Words are like seashells on the shore: they show where the mind ends, and not how far it has been

handfull of sand and seashell

The seeming size of thoughts

Words are the notes of thought, and nothing more.
Words are like seashells on the shore: they show
Where the mind ends, and not how far it has been
.
Let every thought, too, soldier-like, be stripped,
And roughly look’d over…
                                  A mist of words,
Like halos round the moon, though they enlarge
The seeming size of thoughts – make the light less
     doubly.
It is the Thought writ down we want,
Not its Effect: not likenesses of likenesses;
And such descriptions are not – more than gloves,
Instead of hands to shake – enough for us.

by Philip James Bailey (22 April 1816 – 6 September 1902)
from Festus
image – WhoCaresNo1NoesMe

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3 Responses to “Words are like seashells on the shore: they show where the mind ends, and not how far it has been”

  1. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    I love the way he says it is not “likenesses of likenesses” that count, then crowns it all by likening them to “more than gloves,
    Instead of hands to shake”. I loved the pictorial imagery and, I must say, that the image, fits hand in glove with the words. That clump of sand or rock looks much like a brain, and I do like the idea of a thought as a shell, esp considering that one can put a shell to ones ear and hear the sea. We have such an ocean of thoughts in the duration of our short lives; ofcourse some get washed away in the tide of emotions or the course of time. Running through our fingers constantly, time, until our time runs out.

  2. E. A. Able Says:

    I like that this particular seashell has a hitchhiker living inside – a bonus, taking the shell on for another incarnation. The hermit crab in the shell on the sand in the hand in a photo in my post are like layers of a Russian nesting doll.

  3. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    Quite a thought that, Babushka!