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>Words with which to Greet the Morning


Loosely adapted from Mabel Collins’ theosophist Light on the Path and painted onto the rafters by Eugene O’Neill in 1918, the sentiments, one to a rafter, read:

Before the eyes can see, they must be incapable of tears!
Before the ear can hear, it must have lost its sensitiveness!
Before the voice can speak, it must have lost its power to wound!
Before the soul can fly, its wings must be washed in the blood of the heart!

I’m afraid that Miss Collins’s occult imperatives were the deepest reading of my Provincetown New Year’s sojourn, but I did ponder them every day. Although the house O’Neill lived in at 577 Commercial Street is gone, the beams were apparently saved and moved to one of the condominiums at the same address. Mabel herself led an at least as colorful life as Eugene; see here for an account of her days with Jack the Ripper.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. shewhousuallydoesn'tdothistypeofthing says:

    >Jesus wept.

  2. Anonymous says:

    >hummmmmmmm the wings of death

  3. Anonymous says:

    >I like the ears losing their sensitivity before they can hear part but I’m not sure about the tears. I’m not sure I’d want to meet in a dark alley someone who was incapable of tears. In fact, you sometimes run into them in the new age/Buddist/mishmash of whatever eastern is going down set, those believing strongly in the no tears/no sensitivities/equal love for all. All that love and so little kindness.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >Personally, I think you can make anything sound profound if you say it with enough authority and engrave it on a rafter, for God’s sake.

    Before the snows can melt, spring must soften the ground
    Before the nose can bleed, the veins must fill with blood
    Before the mind can silence, the earth must be filled with song
    Before the critic can speak, the author must write the book

    You see. Chew on any of those for a while and they begin to seem profound. What a depressing thought.

  5. >What comes to mind when reading the previous post by anonymous:

    “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you”

    Please read Yogi Ramacharaka , Raja Yoga first few chapters. or light on the path for an explanation to these golden words.

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