Stone walls do not a prison make…

Here’s the final stanza from To Althea, from Prison by Richard Lovelace.

I’m not even giving a source because I know this bit by heart (but not so much the complete poem).

Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
   Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
   That for an Hermitage.
If I have freedom in my Love,
   And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above,
   Enjoy such Liberty.
I just love this, taking it literally, even though I don’t believe in angels…
So, do stone walls a prison make? What do you think?
If you want to read to whole poem and a detailed analysis about it, I found that The Guardian had covered it as their Poem of the Week back in September 2013.

The Cycle of Life in English and Sinhala

Indian Weavers is a beautiful poem by Sarojini Naidu that makes you remember the endless cycle of life.

Watch Pandith Amaradeva singing the Sinhala version, Sannaliyane, in this youtube video.

This is one of the few instances in which I can enjoy both the English and Sinhala versions side by side and not feel cheated out of the original richness that may be lost in translation. The Sinhala version is as lovely as the English one here. I am not sure whether Naidu wrote the original in English.

As for the original poem, here it is:


WEAVERS, weaving at break of day,
Why do you weave a garment so gay? . . .
Blue as the wing of a halcyon wild,
We weave the robes of a new-born child.

Weavers, weaving at fall of night,
Why do you weave a garment so bright? . . .
Like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green,
We weave the marriage-veils of a queen.


Weavers, weaving solemn and still,
What do you weave in the moonlight chill? . . .
White as a feather and white as a cloud,
We weave a dead man’s funeral shroud.

Sarojini Naidu

I got the text from You can read more of Sarojini Naidu poems at There are at least 50 there.



We can decide how we live our lives

In my workshops discussing making life dreams come true, I show a gravestone and refer to the dash that comes between the date of birth and date of death.

Whether it is the grave stone of a child that lived a mere few months or of a person who lived a full life and passed of old age, there is only just a dash there to mark their time on earth.

How we fill that dash while we are alive gives meaning to our life.

Here’s a poem describing the same idea. I am not sure of the source, but I know the writer’s name.

The Dash Poem

by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came her date of her birth 
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all 

Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth. 

And now only those who loved her

Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own; 

The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, 

That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough 
To consider what’s true and real 
And always try to understand 
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger, 

And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives 
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect, 

And more often wear a smile 

Remembering that this special dash 

Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash 

Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Think about it. But, don’t stop with thinking.

What is there that you can do today to fill that dash with more meaning?

Be happy!