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In praise of the number four

April 4, 2020

Charles Mugleston has sent us the following reflection on the manifestations of the number four, including, of course, the quatrain.  Many thanks, Charles, for this delightful  contribution with a spring-like feel.

As a young boy growing up in the country, I loved watching the  rather shy wrens hopping about in the hedges and quickly flying off in all directions… this led me to collecting farthings resplendent as they were in their latter years with the very simple but beautiful design of a wren – I mean, forget sovereigns !  This led me on to eventually collecting older and older farthings and discovering that the name derived from the word fourthing – a fourth part of a silver penny being cut in four.

Roll on the clock, many quarter, half and full moons… and serendipity  – Edward FitzGerald and Quatrains.

In 1850 Alfred Tennyson published anonymously his Masterpiece  In Memoriam “Ring out wild bells…”  can’t you just hear them, and in 1859 his life long friend E.F.G published anonymously his Masterpiece The Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m – what do they have in common ? what  helped them become known and loved the world over ? part of the heart of the matter is…the Quatrain.

Reading quatrains – again and again, they get under your skin, penetrate your pores, resonate with the fourfold chambers of the heart – the four quarters of the world for a quatrain is indeed a universal phenomemon. Just look at the poetic forms from all quarters… quatrains are common to all, there is if of interest a helpful entry on Wikipedia to view – much better than the basic info in Websters Dictionary.

As the old Persian saying completes the circle… “The eloquence of Quatrain is the completion of Sublimity” …  this is pregnant with Mystical as well as practical meaning,  ie the fourfold Platonic Insights of Unity, Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

So, In Memoriam to E.F.G and in Homage to Hakuin – the Japanese Zen Master may  I  offer the following Easter Gift – quatrain to everyone with all good wishes and thanks.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2020 4:16 pm

    Martin Kimeldorf has sent the following comment.

    I was reading with interest Charles Mugleston’s observations and noting how in this moment I see more and more people embracing mystical thinking. That has always been a minor stream in my repertoire, though I rarely share it with others except may through quatrains at times (but pretty hidden I think). Now people are being drawn towards mystical perspectives, as the spokespeople in the rational world are so set on manipulating the facts.

  2. Charles Mugleston permalink
    April 6, 2020 6:24 pm

    Thank you Martin – to humbly adapt a classic phrase of William Shakespeare’s…
    “Truth will art” !

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