Thursday, July 17, 2008


TORTOISE, n. A creature thoughtfully created to supply occasion for the following lines by the illustrious Ambat Delaso:


My friend, you are not graceful — not at all;
Your gait's between a stagger and a sprawl.

Nor are you beautiful: your head's a snake's
To look at, and I do not doubt it aches.

As to your feet, they'd make an angel weep.
'Tis true you take them in whene'er you sleep.

No, you're not pretty, but you have, I own,
A certain firmness — mostly your backbone.

Firmness and strength (you have a giant's thews)
Are virtues that the great know how to use —

I wish that they did not; yet, on the whole,
You lack — excuse my mentioning it — Soul.

So, to be candid, unreserved and true,
I'd rather you were I than I were you.

Perhaps, however, in a time to be,
When Man's extinct, a better world may see

Your progeny in power and control,
Due to the genesis and growth of Soul.

So I salute you as a reptile grand
Predestined to regenerate the land.

Father of Possibilities, O deign
To accept the homage of a dying reign!

In the far region of the unforeknown
I dream a tortoise upon every throne.

I see an Emperor his head withdraw
Into his carapace for fear of Law;

A King who carries something else than fat,
Howe'er acceptably he carries that;

A President not strenuously bent
On punishment of audible dissent —

Who never shot (it were a vain attack)
An armed or unarmed tortoise in the back;

Subject and citizens that feel no need
To make the March of Mind a wild stampede;

All progress slow, contemplative, sedate,
And "Take your time" the word, in Church and State.

O Tortoise, 'tis a happy, happy dream,
My glorious testudinous regime!

I wish in Eden you'd brought this about
By slouching in and chasing Adam out.

2008 Update:  A thievish stone.

Happy birthday to Minka.  Verloren aber nie vergessen.  


Ariel the Thief said...

"Thievish stone" is just too funny!

Very Happy Birthday, Monika!

TLP said...

Happy birthday Monika. Have a ball.

Tortoise soup. I always think of food first.

Jamie Dawn said...

Minka: Have a SUPERB birthday!!!!!!!

Tortoises are neat in their own way, but "a tortoise on every throne", now that's just crazy!!
They live a long time, so maybe if we all donned a hard shell, we'd extend our lives.
My grandpa told me that we should never paint the shells of tortoises or turtles. He had one that he kept in a box. That's why I had such an attraction to The Republic of Palau, may he rest in peace in turtle heaven... Amen.

Nessa said...

Happy Birthday, Minka.

In keeping with today's theme, it took me 27 minutes to read today's entry.

I bet Delaso would love the TMNTs.

Is a turtle a tortoise?

I saw a turtle on the bank by the river last week on my morning walk. Haven't seen him since. I hope I wasn't looking at a rock.

mireille said...

Minka, happy birthday! "Thievish stone" hmm. xoxo

Jim said...

Tortoise: After reading the poem you 'found,' I am really glad those hopes in the tortoise aren't coming true.

Tortoise: Supposedly a slow fellow, but you should them run into the water when Adi and I want to get near them.

Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!
Happy Birthday Minka!

Minka, that's about all the better I can sing. So one more time, Happy Birthday Minka!

Anonymous said...

TORTOISE, n. [French tortue]. A slow-hand waterboarder. Typically stone-faced, Doug.

Happy birthday, Minka!

Anonymous said...

Slow, but still faster than a sleeping rabbit.

Anonymous said...

Oh! Dang it! That rabbit raced off with my thoughts!

Happy Birthday, Minka -- and many Happy more!

Anonymous said...

In this day and age people are still having birthdays? Wellll... why isn't Doug hosting the party?

Reminds me... need to get my hair cut. I have been slow as a tortoise in that regard.

Al said...

Tortoise: The Bizarro cheetah.

Nice work today, Doug. Very.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Monika.

I've always been more hare-ish, but I like that poem.

Anonymous said...

First thought--my cb handle was banana slug(hauled usmail)Second--Happy Birthday MONIKA,,,To see the soul of a tortoise(yes ,they have one)one must have patience ,as its essence seeps outward,slower then a city bus ....For a good time, Green Tortoise Bus Trips..................Peace---unlock the future,biofuel(recycle veg oil) conference, Golden,Co.

tsduff said...

I'll lend the tortoise some moisturizing lotion for those desert dry feet.

Minka - I'm hoping you were feeling much better today on your birthday and able to enjoy the celebrations around the world in your honor :)

Doug The Una said...

Thanks, Ice.

TLP, I've been accused of always thinking of food first, too. In fact, I have to admit that every day before I hit publish, I edit out the words "A condiment that..." from the start of each new definition.

Yes, Jamie Dawn, may Republic of Palau have peace and plenty on the great fence post in the sky.

Nessa, I think turtles and tortoises are different but obviously closely related.

Mireille, I'm sure it implies betrayal and loneliness. I just don't see how.

Jim, you silver-throated gentleman, you.

Amoeba, I'd be a heck of a poker player if I had any patience, I bet.

Nicely put, Aesop.

Sauerkraut, birthdays will be obsolete when we are all humble.

You too, Al. Great to hear from you, friend.

Weirsdo, somewhere must be a painting of a hare playing a viol. I will think of you immediately when I find it.

Happy birthday to you, too, brother Bear.

Terry, that's very thoughtful of you.

Anonymous said...

A thievish stone, who would have thought.

Happy birthday Minka.

tortoise: I shall not forget ""What the Tortoise said to Achilles".

Minka said...

Thank you guys so much, pardon the late arrival to my own party over here. Doug, you are wonderful for remembering!

Doug The Una said...

Those are the kinds of thoughts I have, Cooper.

Minka, it was a big star over the East that reminded me.