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Spring 2010 :: Current Issue

Coltin, Stephen Wallace

FragNotes: Why Aphorisms?

Stephen Coltin

Wisdom is bound by insight,
and insight is bound by idea;
the idea is bound by the sentence;
the sentence by the paragraph;
the paragraph by the page;
and the page by the book.

Most books are so many cages
within cages, within cages.
If they contain insights,
you will be long in freeing them.

But aphorisms are relatively close
to the liberty of boundless Wisdom.

A solid book of aphorisms
is an exhibition of many truths,
each with just a latch or two to lift.

While there are many who receive assurances
from a great preponderance of locks and bars,
we aphorists are not of their stamp.

In matters of the highest importance,
only fools are edified by exposition.
Philosophers (if I might be permitted
to amend Samuel Johnson’s aphorism),
“need to be reminded, more often
than they need to be instructed.”

Only give me the name of the sovereign; and
I myself will fondly remember, in my own manner,
the castle, the court, and the way to the kingdom.

Here’s the pride, courage, and rashness
so befitting of an aphorist, and lover of truth.


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