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August 10, 2010|By Ernesto Lechner, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Ana Tijoux is not your average rapper.

On "1977," the lush title track off her new album, she raps about her life so far, from childhood in exile and rebellious adolescence to maturity as a young woman. But her rhymes don't rhyme. The words don't bounce off each other with the expected repetition of most commercial fare.

Instead, Tijoux's lyrics boast an internal logic of their own. Breathlessly, she raps, manipulating syllables, exploring the beauty of the Spanish language — a staccato rhythm here, an unusual metaphor there. The result is a new sound in the burgeoning genre of Latin rap. Even Radiohead's Thom Yorke has paid notice. Recently, he listed "1977" among his current faves on his band’s Web site.

2010 is shaping up to be a transformative year for the Latina rapper. As Latin music continues to mutate and evolve in new directions, three noteworthy recent albums have a female MC at the core of their sonic DNA. There's Tijoux, who was born in France to parents from Chile and currently resides in Santiago, and two groups from Colombia: Bomba Estéreo and Chocquibtown. All three albums are on Nacional Records, a Los Angeles-based label that specializes in the Latin Alternative market.

Rapping came naturally to Tijoux. In the late '90s, she was the female MC with pioneering Chilean hip-hop group Makiza. She went solo in 2006, and continued to develop a unique flow.

"There isn't a logic or theory to what I do," Tijoux explains from her home in Santiago, where she spends much of the day taking care of her young son. "I taught myself how to rap — and eventually reached a fortuitous moment when I discovered my own style, or signature."

Tijoux's take on her artistry is as complex and contradictory as her rapping. On "Crisis de un MC," from "1977", she describes in painstaking detail the insecurities of a musician — or any artist, really. The contradiction between her natural shyness, her desire to isolate herself from the world, versus her need to make art with words and expose her soul onstage."I'm faced with an inner contradiction that is nothing short of explosive," Tijoux says. "When you're onstage, there are all these euphoric people at the venue, and for a moment, you wish that you could be at home. Interacting with an audience is a beautiful thing to do, but there's also a violence to it. When I started doing photo shoots, I would panic and sweat profusely.... No one told me that it was part of the job. Slowly, you learn how to deal with your insecurities."

Chocquibtown follows a musical path that was pioneered in the late '90s by Cuba's Orishas: party-friendly hip-hop with a distinct Afro-Caribbean zest. With their feel-good call-and-response choruses, songs like "De Donde Vengo Yo" and "Somos Pacífico," included in Chocquibtown's debut "Oro," are all about celebrating Colombia's cultural heritage without dwelling on the country's painful realities (for example: "todo el mundo quiere irse de aquí, pero nadie lo ha logrado" — everyone wants to leave this place, but no one has managed to do it.)

The trio of Miguel "Slow" Martínez, Carlos "Tostao" Valencia and Gloria "Goyo" Martínez hail from Chocó — one of the country's poorest provinces, marked by its large Afro-Colombian population. Goyo's uncle is Jairo Varela — legendary leader and composer with salsa supergroup Grupo Niche.

The influence of tropical music on Goyo cannot be underestimated; at times, the swing in her voice suggests the invisible presence of famous cumbia divas like Leonor González Mina or Totó la Momposina."I grew up in the town of Condoto, next to a river, surrounded by music," says Goyo, during a break from an extensive European tour. "My father was a record collector. He had a music room, devoid of light or furniture. Its only luxury was a huge LP collection: Michael Jackson, El Gran Combo, Marvin Gaye. No one could have imagined that there was music from all over the world in that little room in Condoto. And yet, his collection gave me a broad panorama of sounds. It made me the performer that I am today."

Colombia's other powerhouse female MC is Liliana Saumet, vocalist with Bogota's Bomba Estéreo. The group began as an instrumental outfit, mixing cumbia with electronica and a strong dash of psychedelia — much like Richard Blair's Sidestepper, founder of the electro-cumbia school of thought.

Alternating between rapping and singing, Saumet injected a reckless sexual intensity that permeates "Blow Up," the band's U.S. debut. Bomba's bouncy radio anthem, "Fuego," is all about fire and adrenaline. On "Cosita Rica," she describes in detail a night of clubbing and ferocious lovemaking.

"People often see my lyrics as daring, or sexual," says Saumet, who is articulate and polite, almost soft-spoken. "I grew up in the Atlantic coast of Colombia, where language is meant to be sensuous. People are warm. There's the beach, of course — the sweating, the ocean breeze touching your skin."

Goyo and Saumet come from different backgrounds within the same vast nation. And yet, both were raised to the sounds of the shimmering tropical hits that define a big part of Colombia's cultural identity.

"My mom's favorite artist was [Afro-Caribbean singer-songwriter] Joe Arroyo," offers Saumet. "I grew up singing his songs. There are a lot of outside influences in his music. The ships that arrived to the Colombian coast in the '60s and '70s brought records of funk and African music. The local sound systems would play them, and people like Joe would assimilate those influences."

Similarly, it is the collision of cultures that makes the music of Tijoux, Bomba Estéreo and Chocquibtown so intriguing. In the end, the voice of a female MC is just one of many elements that separates these bright new hopes from the competition.

"Women have always played a big part in Latin rap," says Juan Data, a San Francisco-based DJ who has been writing about the genre since the '90s. "I can't really explain why that is, but compared to American rap, the Latina MCs occupy a place of honor in this music. I guess that in a scene as macho as rap, a woman who establishes a strong presence of her own will always enjoy an extra bit of respect."






Winner of The New York Times 2011 College essay on Modern Love


CURLED up at the foot of my bed, my face inches from the laptop screen, I stared anxiously at the Google chat box. “Will is typing,” the box told me, helpfully.

I forced myself to read e-mail while I waited for his message. Then I refreshed my Twitter feed, scrolled through my blog posts and began brushing my teeth.

Still the box said, “Will is typing.”

“Don’t you dare get hurt by this,” I muttered around my toothpaste. “This was a stupid idea, and you knew that from the start.”

But recognizing the stupidity of falling for someone on the Internet does not prevent you from doing it. My friend Jeanette, a college radio D.J., chats constantly with some music blogger she met on Tumblr. My friend Tuan, who lives in Los Angeles, stays up until after 3 to talk to his London-based girlfriend.

And I had just driven nearly 1,100 miles round trip to visit Will, a guy I met in October at a Web journalism conference and got to know almost entirely on Skype.  

I noticed him across the table at a noisy hotel bar. Will owns thick black-frame glasses but no hairbrush or comb, traits that lend him the look of a basement-bound hacker. If you have ever attended an Internet conference, you understand how pale skin, thick glasses and scruffy hair can be attractive; otherwise, I can’t explain it to you.

In either case, I liked Will’s weirdly overconfident smirk and his obsession with WordPress. He regaled me with the merits of plug-ins and PHP until I became tired and went to bed.

“I’ll find you on Twitter,” I joked when I left.

I didn’t expect or even want to see Will again after that weekend. Since he lived three states away, further face time seemed unlikely. I followed his Twitter posts with detached curiosity; in January, he G-chatted me to complain about work. Then he got drunk and messaged me again, sometime near midnight, as I uploaded photos and otherwise wasted bandwidth.

With obvious sarcasm, he wrote, “Do you have that Skype thing kids talk about these days?”

I’ve read that 90 percent of human communication is nonverbal. Skype captures that 90 percent on a low-resolution video camera, compresses it, funnels it to a node computer and reproduces it on a screen anywhere in the world. Skype eliminates distance; that’s why it works.

And that’s exactly what it did for us. With my Skype screen open and my webcam on, I viscerally felt that Will was sitting a foot away on my bed. Ignoring the times the picture froze or his voice cut out, I thought he looked and sounded exactly as he had in person. Sometimes, when he leaned into the computer to read an article I had sent him, I could see the pores of his face.

We started video chatting for hours every night — he from an ascetic all-white bedroom, me from the cupcake-print corner of my studio apartment. I learned that he ate take-out for every meal, slept in a series of identical white V-neck T-shirts and smirked with one side of his mouth when I said something clever. I knew his preferred coding languages, his least favorite content management system, and his general hatred of dancing, small talk and girls in bars.

One night, when we talked too late, I fell asleep with my laptop open and woke up seven hours later, tangled in cords. He was still there, asleep in the light from an open window, pale and young and pixelated.

Eventually he stirred, blinked at the camera and said, “Hey, you.”

“Hey,” I said easily. “How did you sleep?”

As the weeks went on, I told Will about my last boyfriend, a guy I had met in psychology class and dated for almost two years. He listened quietly, his glasses reflecting my image from his computer, and gave good, clear-eyed advice about letting go.

I couldn’t remember the last time I met somebody that smart and talented in ways I certainly wasn’t. He told me about his ex-girlfriend, who never appreciated his work. I texted him from classes when I was frustrated or bored.

In the safety of my apartment, I could see Will, but I couldn’t touch him. I could summon him when I wanted to talk, but I never knew him in any light other than the one from his bedside lamp. This phenomenon worked in my favor as well. I could call him after a few drinks, when I felt sufficiently talkative and social; I could avoid him if I had videos to edit or blog posts to write. I could say whatever I wanted and risk awkwardness, because at the end of the conversation, one click of the mouse would shut him out of my room.

THE irony is that we flock to the Internet for this type of safe, sanitized intimacy, but we want something entirely different. “In real life,” or IRL, is a popular term in online parlance. At Internet conferences like the one where I met Will, Twitter explodes with people celebrating IRL meetings: “So nice to finally see @so-and-so IRL.” “Hey @so-and-so, I can’t believe we hadn’t met IRL yet!”

The Internet brings these people together with hash tags and message boards, but it never satisfies them. No matter how much you love someone’s blog or Twitter feed, it isn’t their posts you actually want.

And so — slowly, cautiously — Will and I began circling the question of what it all meant.

“I really like you,” he said one night, after getting home from the bar.

“I really like you too,” I said. “I don’t know what that means.”

I wanted to find out. So in early March I rented a car, begged my professors to let me out of class a day early, and drove 540 miles to spend a long weekend in the midsize city where Will lives. When I got close, I called my friend Tuan from a rest stop, where I fixed my makeup and chewed gum and generally tried to calm down.

“What if it’s terrible?” I demanded. “What if he’s nothing like I expect?”

In fact, Will was almost exactly as I expected: thin lips, straight nose, small hazel eyes, glasses. He stood waiting at the side of the street while I parked my car — going forward and back, forward and back, until I nervously got within two feet of the curb. We kissed on the cold, blustery sidewalk as the wind whipped my thoughts around. Mostly, I felt relieved. I thought: “This works in real life. This means something.”

But after we kissed and ate pizza and went back to his house, we struggled for things to talk about. In real life, Will stared off at nothing while I talked. In real life, he had no questions about the drive or my work or the stuff that waited for me when I went back to school.

He took me out for dinner and read his e-mail while we waited for our food. He apologized profusely, but still checked his Web site’s traffic stats while we sat in his living room.

He took me to a party at his friend’s house where they proceeded to argue for hours about Web design while I sat on a futon and stared at the ceiling, drunk and bored and terribly concerned that I looked thinner online. At points, he grabbed my hand and gave me small, apologetic smiles. It seemed like a strategy game: a constant dance of reaching for me and pulling back, of intimacy and distance, of real life and Internet make-believe.

On the last day of my visit, Will overslept. He rushed around the apartment with his hair wet and his tie untied, looking for his laptop. According to the plan we made the night before, he would go to work and I would leave when it suited me, dropping his spare keys in the mailbox.

In the front hallway, where I stood rubbing my eyes, Will hugged me goodbye and told me to drive safely. He struggled for a closing statement.

“It was great to see you,” he said at last.

I didn’t leave right away. After I showered and packed and studied the books near his fireplace, I sat for a long time at his kitchen counter, trying to work out what happened. I didn’t like being surrounded by his things. I felt more comfortable in my room, with my things, and with his presence confined to a laptop screen.

I wrote him a note before I left: “Dear Will: Thank you so much for having me this weekend. It meant a lot to me to spend time with you in person.”

I signed my name and left it on the counter. Then, willing myself not to cry, I dropped his keys in the mailbox and gunned it home. In real life, getting there took nine hours.

Caitlin Dewey is a senior at Syracuse University majoring in magazine journalism.









Jessica Reaves

Applying to college is a lot like standing in the middle of a crowded street wearing a sandwich board inscribed, in highly legible type, with your deepest, darkest fears and loftiest aspirations. And underneath that sandwich board, you're completely naked.

That's how I remember it, anyway. Granted, it's been a while, but it's not hard for me to dredge up memories of the process: the college visits, the narrowing down of lists, the sweaty palms, the endless standardized tests. The feeling, every time you sat down to work on your college essay, that you were doing something profoundly counterintuitive: baring your soul, and all its craggy, musty corners, to strangers, the gatekeepers of a world you were desperate to inhabit.

Lots of kids, like those featured in this magazine, respond to this pressure beautifully, penning earnest, deeply heartfelt and often profound expositions on the big issues: race, gender, love and death. I was not one of those kids. Seized by supreme bravado, abject fear or, most likely, an intoxicating cocktail of both, I sent off an essay bearing the following title: "Why Lying Works: From the Bible to Ronald Reagan; A Study in the Art of Mendacity."

Oddly, no one stopped me from including this essay in my early-decision application. Even more oddly, I got into my first choice of colleges and spent the rest of high school trying to avoid ever having to return to calculus class.

I am not sure exactly why I wrote about lying in an essay that was meant to convey some integral and unique part of my personality. I'm a terrible liar, so it wasn't even a particularly truthful bit of writing about the art of being untruthful-which, in retrospect, may have appealed to the admissions committee's sense of irony. I think part of the reason I wrote what I did stemmed from a tiny, underdeveloped rebellious streak that suddenly insisted upon exerting itself. But there's this undeniable truth: An essay about something that had no connection to me or my experiences was safer and far less scary than taking on the big issues. It was the equivalent, if you will, of wearing a bodysuit under the sandwich board.

Read on for essays from kids who went full Monty, gutsy enough to share their lives with the world. Their stories, and more importantly, their successes and advice, should reassure anxious high school students (and their parents) everywhere. You will get in. You will be happy. And if you're really lucky, you'll find yourself in a place that transforms you into a better version of yourself. And that, I can say with every confidence, is no lie.


Oscar Guzman, Swarthmore College / Jones College Prep

You are no less than them," my tia Nancy would say. My aunt was also my grammar school tutor and the first in the Guzman family to attend college. Not only did she lecture me academically, but she also transformed me into a real Guzman, an individual with dreams. Thanks to my aunt's support, I was the top student in my class, receiving straight A report cards. When I started attending a magnet high school, I began to travel 45 minutes outside of my neighborhood. The transition of environments consisted of numerous changes.

For the past four years of my high school life, I have beaten myself to the ground, making sure that I obtain passing grades and proving myself capable of climbing the highest mountains.

I am more than a number. That's why a test score was not going to prevent me from obtaining my goals. What hurt the most was not the discouragement provided by my college counselor from applying to selective colleges. Instead, it was her proposal to stop speaking Spanish at home. To her, my language was a barrier to success.

To this day, I have never viewed the Spanish language as a fence. Instead, I have seen it as a linguistic beauty that has been passed down in the family for generations. It has been a language that defines who I am, and I was not going to let a counselor remove my identity. Even though I disagreed with her thoughts, they still affected me. Her thoughts forced me to question, "Will having learned Spanish as a first language affect my future goals? How about my children?"

For the past 18 years, I have encountered many obstacles. People have undermined my potential for not portraying the image of the "American" person, for not reacting to issues in the same manner or solely for not speaking the English language. The main point to this issue is that I have always been capable of doing these things; the difference is that since birth, my ideas and interests are different, causing me to look at the world from a different perspective.

On April 28, 2003, my aunt Nancy delivered her first baby boy, Adrian Villafranca. It has been over two years since his birth and his first language is Spanish. As I look at Adrian's face every time I visit him, I think about the struggles that he will encounter as he grows. He will face discouragement, racism and hate. Adrian will experience these injustices simply because of the color of his skin and the culture that he was born into. I know that I will do the same for Adrian as his mother did for me, I will teach him how to appreciate the unique and beautiful culture that surrounds him every day. As a Mexican-American, he will have to carry a great cargo like I've done for the past 18 years, and I wish him a lucky passage.

While Adrian joyously dances around the pastel-colored walls surrounding his room, I quickly realize what an innocent little boy he is, a boy unaware of the mountains that await him. In my heart, I know that he will climb them.

- The process: I think teachers can do a better job of helping with the whole process. For me, it was hard because my parents don't really speak good English, and there aren't really that many people around me who have gone to college. It's different for people who have parents who are pushing them. I have friends like that, but for me it was very different. When you have a passion for learning, you are very self-driven.

- The decision: The most important thing in searching for colleges is finding the perfect fit. If the school is top 20, top 30, you know it's a good school.

- Advice: Just be organized. And start early.

Liz Dengel, Princeton / Oak Park and River Forest H.S.

In October of my freshman year, I had to take a standardized career compatibility test. I remember a feeling of dread in my stomach as I sat at my desk in homeroom and bubbled in my name. I was giving information to the enemy.

I had devoured as much theater as possible during the previous two years. I was working to build my own identity and to forge my own path in the world. That page of Scantron bubbles threatened all of my soul-searching. I did not want to know what the testing agency thought I should do with my life. I did not want my aspirations to be undermined by the conclusions of a computer program. For a brief moment, I considered filling my sheet with inaccuracies. When my teacher started the timer, though, I found myself answering honestly. Old habits die hard.

The envelope with the results arrived in my mailbox six weeks later. On the wheel of career options, I had tied in two categories on opposite poles. My relief was boundless. The inconclusive results were the best for which I could have hoped.

My favorite quotation is a Chinese proverb: "Love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life." I had taken the freshman standardized test too seriously. It was meant only to give me ideas about career possibilities that I might some day love, but I perceived the trap of an arranged marriage. I did not want to decide on a sensible career now and hope that I would learn to love it later.

I have carried this proverb with me through every career counseling session and every college information night I have since attended. When helpful high school counselors make prudent suggestions about my future, I thank them, smile politely, and remind myself that choosing a path is a matter of love.

As long as I love what I am doing, its difficulty is insignificant. Fifteen minutes of biology homework always felt like an eternity, but 15 hours of writing flies by in a breath. Ten seconds of swimming is 10 seconds too much, but 10 weeks of dance is a gift. If I have to wait tables in order to pay the rent before I go to rehearsal, then those 16 hours of work will leave me more fulfilled than a 9-to-5 life ever could. As the poet once said, "Money can't buy me love."

In the same way that my ribs feel a little lighter when I enter a theater, I find myself breathing more easily on the Princeton campus. I know the Princeton curriculum is rigorous, but I also believe I will find more to love passionately at Princeton than at any other university. Hours spent sleeping would feel like wasted time in a place where there is so much to see and to know. Four years of inspiration would feel like no work at all.

- The process: I would have liked to hear more often that applying to college is a very personal process. Sometimes you get the feeling that this is very blanket advice, this is good for everyone, this is how everyone should do it. And everybody says to prewrite and write, and edit and edit and edit, and I am sort of a binge writer. I sit down with my laptop and churn it out in an hour and a half, and then my father would read through it for spelling errors and I was done.

- Advice: Never do anything just because it is going to get you into college. You have to enjoy the process. Otherwise you will be so strung out by the time you write essays that you will sound joyless or sad, and no one is going to want to talk to you.


Alex Wolf, Yale University / Francis W. Parker School

As vital as religion has been to me in the defining moments of my life, it has also been a serious point of internal conflict and meditation. I have contemplated how a reasonable person like me could ever buy into the speculative nature of religious belief. By far the most complicated concept for me to grapple with has been the belief in God. Simply put, how can I believe in something that has no fact-checked foundation for belief? The difficulty for me has been that I do believe in God's existence, but that I have never been able to explain why, a phenomenon that upsets me. And while I find it preposterous to try to understand everything, I find it essential to not only understand, but to be able to substantiate that which we believe in; otherwise, how can we be sure that we do believe?

My curiosity led me in a variety of directions, including conversations with friends and family, readings of various religious scholars, and long hours of meditation; however, none of these avenues provided me with answers. Frustrated, I approached the only person I knew who could provide me with at least some direction in my search. After formalities, I straightforwardly asked my rabbi, "How do I know if God exists?"

"You could start by finding Him," he pointed out.

"And how do I do that?"

"By looking," he strangely replied.

"I know that," I said. "But where should I look? Where will God be?"

He thought for a second, stroked his beard and replied, "I don't know. We all discover God in different places."

"What about you?" I quickly asked. "Where did you meet God?"

He paused again, then responded, "How far are you from the east?"

I looked blankly, but figured he had a point, so I said, "Um, we live about a mile . . ."

"No, I mean how far are you from the east?"

Confused again, I responded, "I guess, one step."

"Go there." I stood up and took one step toward the back part of the room. "Are you east now?"

I pondered, then said, "Well, no, really. I mean, east is still one step away."

"And so is God. He is as far from you as east to west, and as close to you as north to south."

I left his office with a funny feeling. For a while, I took his words to mean that I could never find God. After all, no matter how far I traveled east, or for how long I ventured south, He would be one step away, eternally past my arm's reach. Dejected, I temporarily ended my search in the same, explanationless state as I had entered it.

However, as I thought about the rabbi's statement more, I realized that this may not have been what he was trying to say. It wasn't that I could never find God; it was that I could never be away from Him. The rabbi was simply trying to tell me that while we may never actually meet God, we are always under His direction and that His guidance is one step away so that even if He's not in the form that we would expect to find him in, we see Him, in the face of a distant friend, and hear Him, in the wise words of a grandparent, and touch Him, in the embrace of a loved one. He's there, urging me to go a little farther, pushing me to work a little harder, striving to make me a little better.

- Worst memory: I knew I wanted to go to Yale. I applied early there and got deferred. I had slacked off on some of my other applications. I had wanted to go there so much that I sort of didn't leave the possibility of not getting in, which was, in hindsight, extremely unintelligent. I think I wrote three essays in one day, and I was really nervous at that point.

- Advice: Don't do things just to make your resume look good. Instead, I would say, "What am I interested in?" and then find something awesome that you can do in that. Put your best foot forward, but don't put forward a foot that you don't have. Just be yourself, but be the greatest version of yourself that you can be.



Ria Tobaccowala, Harvard University / University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Tornadoes have the horrific ability to disrupt and rearrange everything. Two years ago, a tornado struck my life and made me reexamine myself, question my country and almost give up my passion.

In the burnt yellow cornfields of the Prairie State, I gazed at the world through a 50 mm lens. An array of electrical towers stood tall in the moribund monotony of cornhusks. Click. This seemed to be the exact abstraction my assignment demanded. Hoping for a little beginner's luck, my index finger made final contact and the shutter winked.

The night after the photography venture, a detective called my home. He identified us by our license plate number and needed to know why, in his words, a girl of Middle Eastern descent was taking pictures of electrical towers. Unaware I had broken any unstated laws about creating art in a cornfield, I explained the photography class and my non-Middle Eastern heritage, hoping to appease any doubts the officer had about me.

The next day, our cleaning lady heard a persistent knocking above the din of the vacuum cleaner. At the door was an armed FBI agent from the counterterrorism network. Worried whether he was going to deport her to Poland, she opened the door and the agent took a walk around the house, gave his business card, and finally asked if only an Indian family of four lived in the household and nobody else. Satisfied with her reply and his unwarranted search, the agent dropped my case and departed to investigate his next "suspect."

Myriad questions and feelings of distrust plagued my mind. Dust had collected on my camera since it was exiled to a closet. I wondered how this device of metal, mirrors and glass prisms could instigate a federal investigation of terrorism. How could anyone suspect that I was a terrorist? So I'm brown with an unusual foreign last name and was taking pictures in the mixture of cornfields and electrical towers, but terrorism was not one of my weekend hobbies. Frustration rose within my body like mercury. How could America, my country, treat me like a forbidden alien?

The moving walkway of life carried me away from the incident and forward to the future. Support from my photography teacher, school officials, friends, and family rekindled my passion for photography.

After a bad first experience with photography in the cornfields, now as I peer through the lens, the world looks different. Initially all the colors had blended together and I couldn't understand this situation, but at this moment, I see all the hues distinctly. I see the three perspectives of the FBI agent, the electrical company employee who made the initial report and my venture in the fields. Through rose-colored spectacles, I saw art in the corn and electrical towers as a sublime union between nature and man. The employee observed a girl standing in the middle of a cornfield taking pictures of electrical machinery, and the dutiful agent followed up on a report in order to protect America.

Today, I believe seeing life from alternate angles and other peoples' points of view is critical in our world. All of us saw the scene with a different perspective, like every photographer views the world through her own unique lens.

- The process: I think kids always complain that applying for college is a horrible process, you know, just cruel and unusual punishment. But I actually learned a lot about myself and a lot about how the world works. You have to evaluate yourself and kind of think about who you are at this point. That is always interesting. Do I have any regrets? Do I have things that I cherish as the best thing I've ever done? It also made me a stronger person, more tough-skinned. Yeah, you are being evaluated, but you are who you are, so accept that.

- What's the best role for parents: For parents, they have to be hands-on. A lot of parents think their kids will do it, this is their thing, but it really helps when your parents are sitting with you, brainstorming ideas with you, reading your essays critically, and, you know, maybe not pushing you and hitting you on the head to write an essay tonight, but they are your best outlet. More than counselors or friends. Your parents know you the best.


Ameerah C. Phillips, Amherst College / The Latin School of Chicago

It's only October and still about 50 degrees outside. The Zaragoza wind is ferocious enough to make me think I'm in the middle of January. Leslie and I walk vigorously in an attempt to keep warm and arrive home quickly. We chit-chat for awhile, simply filling what would otherwise be a long, awkward block of time. It's not that we don't want to talk-we are friends-but our day began at 7:30 in the morning, and all we want to do at this point is collapse onto our beds and not wake up until we hear the excruciating sound of our alarm clocks.

Leslie politely inquires how my day went and after a "pretty good" response I return the question. We continue chatting about the weather, the tremendous amount of homework, our host families in Spain, friends and family back at home, etc. We're passing Dyper, Zaragoza's premiere beauty and cosmetics store, when she asks me if I mind stopping for a moment and going in with her. Despite being tired, hungry and anxious to get home, I do what I think is right and simply murmur, "No me importa" as we proceed to enter the store.

Two minutes later. Wait!!!! What just happened? What did I just say? No really, what just came out of my mouth? I didn't think about it? I didn't plan it out first. It wasn't premeditated. Was it grammatically wrong? Or right? No, it was right, in fact it was absolutely perfect.

Grabbing Leslie's arm I gasp, "Do you know what just happened? Do you know what I just said?"

Confused she responds, "Well I know what you said, but what happened?"

"I just spoke in Spanish without thinking!!!"

Then it clicks; she understands why I'm so overjoyed, and shares in my excitement. I did not stumble and trip over words, butchering them as they came out of my mouth; instead, I simply said what first came to mind. I did not attempt to use the most proper Spanish, taking too long just to tell her, "No tengo una pre-, prefa-preferencia." I didn't spend minutes just thinking of where the verb or noun should be placed. No time spent wondering if I was saying the phrase with the proper Spanish "th" accent. What I'd done was simply open my mouth and say the first thing that came out. Most importantly, Leslie understood me.

I hurried home to share with others what I'd just experienced. Upon entering the house I immediately informed my host mother of the wonderful news. She smiled and told me, "Muy bien." Even so, the truth shone through. My host mother, just like Leslie, didn't comprehend what a huge accomplishment this was, but I didn't let her response hinder my joy. Maybe my host mother hadn't understood me because I didn't explain the situation clearly; after all, my Spanish was still a bit shaky. Most of the time I did have to concentrate on where the verb should be placed, or should it be in the singular or plural tense. I couldn't think of any other reason for her not to be bouncing off of the walls right along with me. So I called a few friends back in the U.S.

I shared the revelation I'd had and how proud I was of myself. Their response was even less enthusiastic than Leslie's or my host mother's. In fact, one friend was critical of me. They felt that I'd been living in Spain for a month and a half and at that point speaking without thinking should have been second nature to me. I took their comments to heart. I became disappointed in myself for not having had my breakthrough sooner.

That evening, in a phone conversation, my mother reminded me that I'm not perfect and that everybody learns and adapts at different rates. Doing what mothers do best-nag-my mother helped me re-recognize the achievement I'd made and helped me regain my sense of pride. She had struck a chord; I realized that I couldn't hold myself up to other people's expectations-I'd have to work for myself. My "No me importa" may not have been a grand speech or anything spectacular, but its significance is enormous.

- Decision: It just has to feel right. The last two weeks in April I narrowed it down to three schools, and I honestly saw myself being really happy at any of them.


Summer Abdoh, University of Wisconsin-Madison / Nicholas Senn H.S.

Everyone has a story to tell, a hidden secret, and sooner or later will have an epiphany on their true existences in society. My story begins at the age of 5, when reality showed me the other side of the green pastures. It was around May of 1993, when my brothers and I were taken from school and put in a foster home. We were completely unaware of what was happening and the whereabouts of my mother and father. Later, we found out my mother was in the hospital fighting to stay alive and my father disappeared.

I spent five years moving from house to house, living with complete strangers, and enduring struggles and pains that no child should. These details of my life are hidden from everyone outside of our nuclear family. I have struggled to keep this a secret, but as time progressed, I have become more mature about the subject. Sometimes, when I reminisce, I can't believe that was my past. I remember going to school in 2nd and 3rd grade, and all the kids would ask me what was my ethnicity, and why I didn't look like my mother. I would come up with these elaborate answers that would appease them momentarily. My true identity was not known until I saw my mother for the first time after she got out of the hospital.

When I first saw her, it was probably the happiest I have ever been. She couldn't stop crying when I asked her questions about our background and my father. When the visit was over, my heart broke when I watched her go back to the hospital. My mother amazes me sometimes; she endured several court appearances, visitations and goodbyes. She is the strength that encouraged me to see the brighter side in the never-ending darkness.

In 1998, my mother victoriously walked away with us by her side. That year opened more than the front door to home; it opened me up to my father. When he came, the truth about my mother's hospitalization and us being in foster homes was revealed. I couldn't bring myself to give him a hug or even call him father. In my eyes, he had caused the worst five years of my life.

My father was a very respectable man in Jordan. However, behind closed doors he was abusive. Now, at the age of 17, I have forgiven my father for what he did to my family. I have spent so many years trying to forget the past. In reflection, my experience in foster homes has proven useful to me. It reminds me that I should never take anything for granted because you never know what you have till you lose it.

My mother has inspired me to fight for what I want. Her near-death experience didn't stop her from fighting the state to get us back. She only got stronger when they told her she will never succeed. I refuse to ruin my future or become another statistic that blames her mistakes on a father or a horrible childhood. The reality is that nothing comes without a struggle, and if you don't experience sacrifice while you're young, you will when you grow up.

Granted, I haven't had my life's great realization. I solemnly believe that college will help me develop character and enlighten my psyche to life outside the comfort zone. My communication and educational skills will have dramatically improved and that will have a profound effect on my fate. Through my years in high school, I noticed that everyone has a story, something to hide, and a vision, but it takes a great and unique person to mold it to their advantage.

- Toughest part of the process: I was captain of the swim team, a newspaper editor, president of the Rec House and I kept my grades up. That was hard.

- Advice: Don't think that a school is too far out of your reach to apply. You never know. And have a lot of enthusiasm for it.

- The future: I know the transition is going to be hard. I've been through a lot of transitions. It just makes you stronger. I just can't wait for whatever is coming next.


The power of pride

Bradford Williams, Yale University / Whitney M. Young Magnet H. S.

My parents always told me that during the eras of slavery, Jim Crow and racial segregation, one of the tools of oppression was to erase the history and culture of blacks in America. When this history was destroyed, blacks only knew a past of degradation and inferiority. They told me that I had the opportunity to understand my history and gain a sense of ethnic pride. I would just nod my head as if I understood, but I couldn't really comprehend the density of what they were saying.

Then, when I was 12, I saw the movie "Remember the Titans," about the integration of a high school and their football team in Alexandria, Va. The kids in the movie just wanted to play football, but the surrounding community was unwilling to accept the black and white students playing together. That's when I understood what my parents were talking about: Ethnic pride means not letting other people determine your success or failure. Pride is the sense of self-worth that helps you beat the odds.

In this movie, the leader of the black players referred to a poster that gave him his inner strength. This picture symbolizes the Black Power movement and represents one of the most influential moments of African-American activism. The picture was taken in 1968 at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City after a track and field event. Two African-Americans, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, placed, one in first and the other in third, raised one arm with a fist after receiving their medals. This gesture represented Black Power, a movement among black Americans emphasizing racial pride and social equality through the creation of Black political and cultural institutions. This same symbol became part of a powerful movement during the civil rights era.

For the years following these Olympic games, the "Fist of Glory," as it became known, started to gain political steam. It became widely recognized as an emblem of ethnic pride and even became a symbol for the Black Panther Party. It represents arguably the largest political and social movement in our country's history.

As an African-American, I find this picture particularly significant because it represents a movement that I still feel the effects of today. Unlike many moments in American history, the civil rights movement is still very much alive today. The struggles that activists during those times endured afforded me the freedom to enjoy life the way I do now. History is our key to intellectual freedom: With an understanding of the past, we are able to comparatively analyze events in the present.

More than anything else, I find this picture important because it captures a revolution in a single moment. This revolution is still in progress, and I want my life to contribute to its progression. I want to study history so that I can gain the knowledge to influence the future, and become, like the two men in the picture, part of the next generation's past.

- Early decision: Applying early is always huge. Apply to as many schools early as you can. A lot of them will only allow you to apply to one, so make sure that is the one that you really want to go to.

- Advice: The essay should come from your heart and what you are trying to be and what you are trying to do. Take the most challenging courses and look good in high school. Make sure you put yourself in a position where you can go to any college you want to.

I found out I'd gotten in December 16th, so no one really knew I got in until we got back. A lot of people at Whitney Young didn't apply early. So when April and March came around a lot of people got rejection letters. It was sort of this difficult trend and a lot of times, people didn't know what to do. I tried my best to empathize with them, but I didn't know what they were feeling.

- What's the best role for parents: In terms of the essay, editing it. Helping you do the thinking process. Helping you choose a topic.

There are a lot of articles that say how colleges rank different parts of the application. In almost all of them, essays are on the list. My parents were sort of stressing: make sure every sentence and paragraph comes back to being about you. Because they don't get to meet you in person. A lot of times, the person who does your interview doesn't read your application so that they can get some objective viewpoint of you. Let it be that they could pick you out of 100 people in a crowd if they read that essay-just by your mannerisms and by who you are.


Ariela Rotenberg, Wesleyan University / Walter Payton College Prep

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Ariela, who lived in a town called Rains-a-lot." Thus began all of the nights of my childhood. For 12 years, my father would tuck me in and lie down next to me. There were times when I was so eager to hear the story that I could scarcely breathe. And then he would say those 18 magic words. My father spun me stories, both original and borrowed from literature. I was first made aware of quests through one that Ariela Too-Many-Cocoas (for that was my character's name) went on with her friends in search of rings that represented the five senses. I later learned that this particular epic story that took my dad over a week to tell was loosely based on "The Lord of the Rings." It seems remarkable to me that even 11 years later I can remember "dust bunnies" (a particular version of villain in the story) and smile.

During my American Girl phase, after I read a "Felicity" book in which she saves a horse and develops a friendship with her, Ariela the character too found a horse who soon became her friend. Even today, although I cannot remember the exact content of my dad's stories, I can remember perfectly the feeling of anticipation they inspired and my regret when he went back to his room after each night's installment. Because I developed such intimate connections with stories so early, I have continued to be fascinated by them, although more recently I have begun exploring beyond fiction.

My father stopped tucking me in when I was around 13 because I thought that I was too old; I wanted to be treated like an adult. With no tuck-in, there were no more stories. My mother used to tell my dad, "Write down the stories. Write a book, or at least put something onto paper that Ariela can tell her children." My father's reply was always the same: "Ari will come up with her own stories."

In a way, my father's prediction has already come true. I do tell stories, although they are different from the kind that he told me growing up. Last year I started writing creative non-fiction essays. My friends sometimes mock me for writing essays for fun, but my dad gets it. I write about my life, and I try to get some sense of who I am as I relate to the world through my essays. They are non-fiction, but I write as if I were telling a story, as if Ariela is a character whose thoughts at a particular moment should be expressed. I add detail to personalize my "character," to make her as memorable as the "dust bunnies" of my childhood.

At my bat mitzvah five years ago, my father started his speech to me with the very words with which I began this essay. By the end of his speech we were both crying. It is the only time I can remember my father crying. But the "Ariela of Rains-a-lot" stories were more than just a connection with my dad. He wanted me to love the written (and spoken) word even before I was old enough to appreciate works like "The Lord of the Rings." In return, I will continue to love and explore them.

- The essay: I try to be a modest person, and I don't like the idea of having to make myself appear wonderful to someone so that they will want me. On the other hand, it was a good opportunity for me to think introspectively-to see how can I portray myself on paper in a way that is honest and true to who I am.

- Stress: I like lists. The process of checking stuff off made me feel more comfortable, in control. Also, having a really strong support system of friends. It was really helpful for my parents and friends to remind me that if I was rejected from somewhere I wanted to go, it in no way reflected my ability or my intellect or anything about me. It is heartbreaking to be rejected from a school you really want to go to, but it isn't about you.


Jose Acevedo, Pomona College / Walter Payton College Prep

Pedro Camuy, my grandfather, is the strongest man that has ever graced my life. His influence has affected my spirituality, my ability to take risks, and most of all my sense of identity. He's touched my life in the most profound of ways; making me feel that at his age of 63, he's experienced more than I ever could even if I lived to be 200 years old.

Over dialysis machines and hospital meals, because of failure of both kidneys, his heart, and complications of infection due to diabetes, Pedro Camuy has taught me to be at peace with God. While lying in a hospital bed for weeks on end he's taught me to not curse the situation you are in, but to pray that you are given one more day to live, regardless of how hard that day is. With the recent birth of a grandchild, my cousin, he's shown me more than anything that if you believe enough, you can survive anything. With a new life to guide, he's been given a new reason to fight through every day. He has been in and out of the hospital since I was 10 years of age, yet he has always emerged stronger. He is a fighter, claiming that it was a love for his family and faith that brought him home.

Over poker tables, amidst the thickest of tensions, he has taught me to play the odds. He told me when to set your cards down on the table and take a loss, but he also taught me something else more important. He taught me when it is worthwhile to lay down every dollar you have for what you think is a winning hand.

It is with this in mind that he came to America, knowing that the well-being of himself and his family was riding on his ability to succeed here. He did this with fear in his heart, but a poker face exposed to the world. This is how he taught me to think about life. He showed me to not be afraid to lose it all, because that could be the one experience that makes you a better person. He told me to never be afraid to bet the deed to your small business on a poker game, because you just might have the other guy beat. He lost that hand; he has lost a lot of hands. But, more then anything, he picked himself back up after every big loss. That's how he played poker; that's how he lived his life; that's how he showed me who I was.

On couches in houses surrounded by the most overt display of heritage, we have talked. We've talked about me, and all the things that came before me. We've talked of family lost, family gained, and told stories that you can only believe when coming out of the mouth of those that lived them. He has told me the stories of my people, of the discovery of America, and the people that all Puerto Ricans originate from. During these talks, the look in his eyes was one of fire. It is a look I could never duplicate, but I can only hope that my DNA has allowed me to give an imitation of this look that would prove I was my grandfather's grandson. These were the talks that made me Puerto Rican; these were the talks I'll have with my grandchildren one day.

Ernest Hemingway once said, "There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are simple things, and because it takes a man's life to know them, the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave." My grandfather has never heard this quote, but has proved Hemingway's words as the truth. All that a man has to leave is what he has learned in his life.

What my grandfather has taught me is where I came from. His teachings have made me want to take a risk, put on a brave face, and go to a college away from home, knowing my heritage and that I am under the protection of God. His teachings have given me the lessons that no classroom ever could. For this, he is the most influential person to ever grace my life.

- Advice: It's never too early to start looking at colleges and to make sure your GPA is where it needs to be. As much as we all like to think that they only look at the person, a lot of it goes into grades and how well you are performing. It is just the fact of it.

- Advice for adults: I would say to parents that they need to let their child leave the nest. If is in Juneau, Alaska, let them leave.

Kelsey Andersen, Mount Holyoke College / North Shore Country Day School

One may gaze at the stars to marvel at the romance of one shooting across the sky, to illustrate a tale through a constellation, or to study the hydrogen and helium composition of the spectacle. Someone else might wonder at the possibility of life on other planets beyond our reach or of the infinite realm of scientific exploration available to us. I, however, prefer to inspect the finiteness of our own existence. Just as the smallest creatures observe the foreboding beings that walk above them, I realize our defined scope in life. The stars can represent our limits as much as they are associated with the limitless.

When looking up at the stars, I am reminded of the precious time one is given and with which he or she has a choice to make a meaningful contribution. Even the slightest act can make a difference, and one must be cautious that it is not destructive. This is what the stars tell me. The vast blackness is dotted with their brilliance, just as our lifeline is marked by our achievements, contributions, and connections to others. I prefer to see the stars symbolically, rather than scientifically. As the shooting star sweeps the sky and disappears into oblivion, a child cries for the first time and the elderly and sick cry for their last. These fleeting moments can have profound significance.

In a stressful moment, I choose to glance up at the sky. In this, I can find peace as I realize the insignificance of my worry. I feel my lonesome smallness, but also that which ties me to the larger world. In wide-open landscapes, among the tall grasses of the Midwest prairie, or the sand dunes of the East, and the cool waters of the shared oceans, the stars shine clear; their message reaches me. I am reminded of the love I have for my family as well as my connection to my fellow man. Staring into the expanse of the sky and in my peripheral vision, I can take in my immediate surroundings where I grasp the meaning of time, its beginnings and ends, and that which is continuous. My concern is then but a blink, and my life a flicker in the greater universe. My thoughts turn to the more important ideas in life, of my loved ones, my good fortune and how I could possibly better that of my fellow neighbor.

I do not feel disconnected looking into the darkness, but more united with my brother and sister here on Earth. I think of the stranger I have not yet had the opportunity to meet, and what might be the circumstance of our encounter. I sense our commonalities more than our differences. One culture is not upside down and the other right side up, one progressive and another backward. We share the guilt and the praise for what has been done during our time, the time before, and the time to come. The interconnectedness of generations and cultures is prevalent in my thoughts as I look up at the stars.

I am not overwhelmed by the immensity of the night sky nor of its ominous associations, but rather overwhelmed by the wondrous life I have been afforded, and of the endless opportunities I shall find to leave my own lasting mark. Whether it be a personal gesture of kindness or a more organized act of humanity, I look to the stars to remind myself of my goals.

I think of my ancestors' spirits sprinkled amongst the stars as the Native Americans do, and of my own descendants who someday may think of me, their great-grandmother. I look to the stars for an understanding and awareness of myself and others. Stars can shine on the path of my quest in life, my purpose, showing me how I fit into the constellation of society and how I shall shape it as I journey.

- Looking back: You spend so much time in the admissions office that you don't really know what the faculty is like. Somebody could have said to stop in, bother a professor, knock on their door and find out about them. It would get you a little further than the tour.

- Advice: Get to know your college counselor but don't take it all so seriously. You still have four years. Just kind of ignore it until you take the PSAT.

- Best role for adults: The whole family went to Brown, but they didn't push me in that direction. I think there are those kids who have trouble with the process because their parents are putting pressure on them. They end up not going to the school that is the best fit. The whole name brand thing that parents and adults put on you is not helpful. And I suppose for other adults, to remove their experience from your own. It is nice to hear about adults and their perspective and what their experience is like, but when they impose it on you, none of us like that.

David Mejia, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign / Northside College Prep

I sat on the bench staring across the turf at the opposing team's dugout. Looking back at me was a familiar face proudly sporting a baseball cap and smile.

I remembered the first time they escorted me to the basement to tutor. It was not a place meant for learning, but for storing broken chairs and books that were in old Corona boxes. It was a place where kids were expected to get help, but mainly where objects were left and forgotten about.

These children were teenagers, young Latinos just like me, certainly not the age group I had experience with from my work as a camp counselor. They were resistant at first, embarrassed to ask for help. When the sun broke through the barred windows I would see their enigmatic expressions. I sat down feeling rejected. Noticing the boy's baseball jersey next to me I inquired about it, hoping to achieve some social interaction. He talked about baseball and we shared our mutual respect and love for the game. He replied with a no when I asked if he played for his high school and he explained that it was for academic reasons.

I persisted in helping him with his homework but he remained confused by the information in his book. Finally I came to the startling realization that he couldn't read. My supervisor asked me to talk to him because he did not know how to go about it. I encouraged him to keep trying and continually worked with him. Gradually his grades soared from D's and F's to C's and B's.

Seeing his smile that day at the game, I smiled back and the feeling of completion overwhelmed my body. I attained victory before the first pitch was ever thrown. My trance was broken when the two most appropriate words were uttered: "Play ball."

- Advice: Get started early. Just take a day or two and write things out for the essay. I have to say that at first I wrote the most terrible, awful things and just got them out. But if you wait until the last day, those terrible, awful things are going to be what you send into the college and that is what they will see.


Samantha Wanling Tsang, Georgetown University / New Trier Township H.S.

My name is Samantha Wanling Tsang. Or at least that's what it says on my birth certificate, but in real life I have many aliases. No, I'm not a secret agent working for the CIA. In fact, as we all grow up, we gain many aliases-what others may call nicknames. Although seemingly meaningless, these nicknames all define a certain era in our lives. I have gone through many nicknames, and each reflects a vital aspect of who I am.

Fai JuJu. This Chinese nickname translates into "fat little pig." Like my two older sisters, I had to endure this nickname for seven years. As part of the Chinese culture, it is considered a form of affection to relate your child to an animal, usually a pig. However, my parents also say that this nickname was a reflection of my love for food. They recalled my first steps, claiming that the only way I was willing to take my first step was if there was a cookie waiting for me. I guess you could say that, in a way, the "little fat pig" is not only still in me, but is hungry for more. Not only do I have a hunger for all types of food-Chinese, Thai, Italian, French-but now I also have a hunger for new experiences-traveling, sports and learning.

Sunny. When I was born, my mother debated between Samantha and Sunny, and although she chose Samantha, Sunny became my alias for four years. These were the years when my creativity developed. Playing off my nickname, my sisters would joke that my boyfriend was the man on the moon. They would write me love letters, claiming that they were sent from my boyfriend. At this gullible age, I readily believed them. I would write my own letters and think of ways that I could visit the moon. Although I eventually realized the fictitiousness of the man on the moon, I never lost my ability to imagine.

Samantha. From 11 to 16, people knew me as Samantha. This name reflected a period of my life when I matured tremendously. In church, I took a more active role that developed my responsibility: teaching 3rd-grade girls in Sunday school. At school, I became immersed in my studies and learned to love so many subjects-biology, English and Chinese-as well as endure other subjects-U.S. history and pre-calculus. Outside of school, I became interested in many eclectic extracurricular activities such as varsity badminton, Chinese Club, Christian Club, piano, and social service. The "Samantha Era," however, was perhaps too much about standards of achievements, titles, rankings and winning. What was lacking was an active social life, and this imbalance has led to Sam.

Sam. This is my current nickname, marking a new era of balance. Nowadays you can find me, if done with my homework and studying, hanging out with friends at the beach or various restaurants. Knowing how to work hard is essential, but so is knowing how to relax and socialize. Instead of imagining a friend from the moon, I now have real friends that I write to and think about. Instead of my hunger for just food, I have grown to hunger for so much more, like experiencing different cultures. And instead of being a reclusive bookworm, I am now-yes, still studious-but social as well. I guess you could say that Sam has become an embodiment of all: Fai JuJu, Sunny and Samantha.

Although three of these eras in my life have come and gone, I have taken something from each one. I know that this is not the end of my many name changes, and I can't wait to see what the future holds. But, for right now, you can just call me Sam.

- Advice: I wish I had researched colleges at the beginning of junior year. I could have seen the ones I wanted and their requirements, and then worked toward them. I would have been more prepared.



OK, you're in. Now how are you going to pay for that diploma? Start here.

- LOOKING FOR A SCHOLARSHIP to help pay your way through college? With tuition and book prices skyrocketing, parents and prospective college freshmen everywhere must consider every means possible to finance higher education. Money awards are based not just on grades or scores, but also for exceptional talents, geographical residence, ethnicity and more. Individual awards range from a few hundred dollars up to $40,000.

Here are a few essential resources for parents and college-bound students on the scholarship hunt. All are available either on the Internet or at your local bookstore or library.

- U.S. Department of Education: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

The mother of all financial-aid resources, this government Web site is the best starting point. (

- The Scholarship Book, 12th Edition (Prentice-Hall)

This well-organized volume allows you to browse through thousands of scholarship providers by field (such as science or architecture) and gives informative entries on each offering.

- The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)

The profesional association of financial-aid administrators has a wonderful Web site that answers frequently-asked questions from parents and students, and provides links to useful resources. Got a senior interested in medicine but short on money? Try the page titled "Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students."

- Scholarships: Billions of Dollars in Free Money for College (2006 edition; Kaplan)

This straight-to-the point book offers lists and lists of scholarship providers.

- Live in Illinois?

The Illinois General Assembly Scholarship provides that each legislator may award two scholarships (actually, a tuition waiver) to students in each district to attend a state-sponsored school. That's a free four-year ride. Contact your state senator or representative.

--Reported by David Thigpen



Caroline Kleeman, Brown University / University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

- The process: I think that a lot of parents, especially, are too involved with the process. What ends up happening is that those kids feel their parents won't be happy with them if they don't get into the school either they or their parents want them to go to. Parents should step back and say that the whole reason of going to college is to be out on your own and that should first happen in the application process.

- Advice: Stay on top of your work. Don't let anything be too much for you. You really can get through it. It will seem like a lot of work at first. It is new and kind of scary, but it will be okay.

- The essay: The essay is a chance to show who you really are, other than numbers and grades.

Keith Jackson, University of Wisconsin-Madison / John Hope College Prep

- Advice for adults: Be there for them. Guide them. Don't just let kids go out on their own. Help them research colleges and schools as early as possible. You may have to assist them way more than just thinking they are doing what they need to be doing.

- The essay: Let them see you as though they are really meeting you: like reading your biography or something.

- The future: I expect the unexpected. I know that college is way different than high school. It is a whole other level. I know I will have to work harder and study harder than I did in high school.


Sonia Roberts, Vassar College / University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

- Advice: Visit colleges. If there are some things you really care about, research schools first, then go visit them. You never know if you like them until you get there. If you visit only the colleges you are going to get into, that is fine but go see them. Parents should make sure their kids know that admissions people deal with a lot of kids every day. And they know what you are going through. They know you are stressed out and that you probably are not doing your best on the application essays. That you are probably are not that bad of a student, even if you get a 26 on your ACT. They can look at your GPA and say, "Calm down and apply to schools that are within your range." Don't stress out over it. It is not worth stressing out over.

- The essay: Don't try to be somebody else. Try to illustrate who you are rather than what the college is looking for. If you just let your personality flow through the paper, then they will pick up whether or not you will fit. If you aren't a good fit, then they will pick that up. Trust them.



Expert advice on finding-and getting into-the best school for you

Eva Ostrum, author of The Thinking Parent's Guide to College Admissions: The Step-by-Step Program to Get Kids into the Schools of Their Dreams and founder of College Broadband

- Before looking at schools, take a good look at your child. "Don't box your son or daughter in when something else would really help him thrive," she recommends to parents who are obsessing about their child attending their alma mater or another dream school. "Start with who your child is, then look at schools, rather than the other way around."

- Understand that you very well might not get into your top college picks. "You have to be just as excited about your safety school as your No. 1 choice."

William Marra, president of the Harvard Crimson and author of 50 Harvard Application Essays: What Worked for Them Can Help You Get into the College of Your Choice

- Advertise your talent. "It's important to be very good at one thing," Marra says. "Having one really strong point, like music, athletics, community service or debate helps to pitch yourself to the college you want to attend. Don't be shy about letting the college know what your strengths are."

- Have a strong standout essay, not just one that is grammatically correct. "Make sure the essay shines a light on your personality and character."

Elizabeth Wissner-Gross, author of What Colleges Don't Tell You (and Other Parents Don't Want You To Know)

- If waitlisted, be a squeaky wheel, because there is no order to the list. "Some colleges just look at who called them the most. The kid who keeps calling really wants that place."

- Cramming is good. "I strongly believe and have seen evidence of kids' improving their SAT scores by 300 points by cramming the day before," Wissner-Gross says. "I recommend kids take the Friday off before the SATs."

--Reported by Kristin Kloberdanz

                             Like a weed I will grow

My feet are planted firmly on the ground as if ready for something.  I am ready for my future, ready to live my dream. A dream made possible because of a little determination, a little pride, and a tremendous amount of perseverance. Weeds are not the apple of many people eyes, but weeds are strong and when you want to get rid of a weed better chop well because if not it will grow back stronger. Like a weed I will flourish in an open prairie.

I have a closet, a closet with lots of shirts. I love these shirts even though some of these shirts don’t fit, but I still hold on to them. This closet represent my life, the shirts represent a parts of my life. I did not want to get rid of my shirts because I remember how they use to fit me, but time past and I kept getting these new shirts and soon my closet/ my life became un-functional.  I realized I had to move on and I had to unpack my closet and get rid of my shirts I had for so long. Now that my closet is cleaned out I can move on and now my closet is functional I can close it! To do this you have to connect the cause and the effect because if you do not you would not know what is your problem to correct.

I have all this knowledge, about math, science but I don’t have the ability to do them. People can know everything from the secrets to Da Vinci painting to knowing everything Albert Einstein understood but they don’t have the ability to do what they have done. Someone can teach you how to swim but you want know how to swim until you are in the water. I want it all I am ready to do; I am ready to have the ability of my knowledge.

I ran for Secretary for National Honors Society, I put everything I had into my speech and it took everything out of me to stand in front of other out standing students and present my speech. I didn’t get elected secretary, at one point I was very forlorn saying why I never get to shine, what make someone else better then me. I might not have their grades, didn’t rank one of class, not president of senior class, but I know I have the dream; I have the perseverance that will keep me going. One quote I really relate to is “being defeated is more valuable then having victory all of the time.” When you are defeated you become stronger you learn your mistake your skin getting tougher. A person who had victory all the time will fall hard when they lose because it will be too late for their first wake up call to reality.

I am in many clubs such as: buildOn, environment club, art club, French club, Big brother/Big sister club (mentoring youth), President of National Art Honor Society, National Honor Society, National Langue Society,  science club, tennis team and I am a college ambasstors. Theses clubs actually change and mold me to the person I am now. buildOn is a origination that help build communities in urban areas and also build school in third world countries such as: Mali, China, India just to name a few. No, I never got to go to those countries and gain the experience like I would love to but I have gain more experience than I have ever had before by just doing community service every Saturday with buildOn in local Chicago areas. Yes, I have gain over two-hundred service hours with buildOn but I have also gain knowledge out of my community, I have gained the confidence to get outside my comfort zone and interact with different culture, different people of life. 

I have done an internship with a park district community green house, I have learned so much about plant life from just local neighbors. The people that volunteer there are so amiable that they know my name and each other’s names, it’s like we are a family every time we meet up there. The internship not only was to  keep up of local members community gardens but also  include of teaching children from ages three to ten all about basic plant life. This internship was my dream because I want to major and both biology and education. This internship over the summer gave me hands on, first look of what my future career will consist of.  Yet my internship is over I still go to the events and go by frequently to the community garden. I enjoyed my internship at Kilbourn Organic Green House and won’t change my experience there for anything least.

Life is about growing and learning and adapting. Face it, life and struggle is a total package; you can’t get the deal without both. I am only 17 years old and life basically is about to begin for me. Life told me to avoid the cliché and break the cycle and destroy this young ego I have so I can learn and live. I only can dream of my future and celebrate the present because that is just simply what life is about.







Donald M. Frame

Montaigne resists simple definitions. He is the first essayist, a skeptic, an acute student of himself and of man, a champion of a man-based morality, a vivid and charming stylist, and many other things besides. No one description tells nearly enough, and indeed it is bard to see which one to place at the center.

Yet this very difficulty points to one answer: that the book is the man. Montaigne's principal conscious aim was to make it so. "I have no more made my book than my book has made me," he wrote; "a book consubstantial with its author, concerned with my own self, an integral part of my life." In his concern to present himself exactly as he was, he addressed the reader in his natural, everyday language. "I correct the faults of inadvertence, not those of habit," he once wrote in answer to a hypothetical critic of his style. "Isn't this the way I speak everywhere? Don't I represent myself to the life? Enough, then. I have done what I wanted. Everyone recognizes me in my book, and my book in me" (III: 5, p. 667). His greatest attraction for most readers is that the book reveals a man and that the man becomes a friend and often another self.

Rousseau resented the fact that the Essays were not frank enough to suit him; but Montaigne was not writing confessions. When he started his book be had lost a dear friend, Etienne de La Boétie, to whom be had been able to express, as he never could to any one person again, his every thought, view, and feeling. Self-sufficient though he was, he had an imperious need to communicate. The Essays are his means of communication; the reader takes the place of the dead friend.

When we talk to a friend we do not constantly confess and plumb the depths of our soul; for to do so is to threaten, by excessive self-concern, the tacit equilibrium that friendship assumes and needs. Rather we talk about our hopes and fears, what has happened to us, what we have seen, heard, or read that has interested us, how we assess our own actions and those of others. And this is what Montaigne does. He has no use for the introvert's anguish over the impenetrability of ultimates, the absurdity of man's place in the universe, or the discrepancy between our ideals and our attainments. The first two of these he accepts without despair as unfathomable data of human life. The third he seeks to resolve by introspective study of human nature and human conduct, over which we have some control. If by this practicality he loses a kind of depth, he gains in friendly communication with the reader; and this is what he wants.

One of the mysteries of the Essays is how the portrait of Michel de Montaigne seems to become that of every man and thus of the reader. No one has explained this. Emerson expressed it when he wrote of his first reading of Montaigne: "It seemed to me as if I had myself written the book, in some former life, so sincerely it spoke to my thought and experience." Pascal's comment is intriguing: "It is not in Montaigne, but in myself, that I find all that I see in him ."

A writer with whom we identify ourselves is naturally seen in as many lights as he has readers. We each have our own Montaigne, as we have our own Hamlet and Don Quixote. But this is not the only reason for the diversity of Montaigne's public image. Writing as he did over a period of twenty years, from just under forty until his death, he changed as he wrote, recognized and accepted his change, and made his portrait vary to fit his own variation. "I do not portray being," he wrote (III: 2, pp. 610-11); "I portray passing.... My history needs to be adapted to the moment.... I may indeed contradict myself now and then; but truth, as Demades said, I do not contradict."

Though the evolution of Montaigne's ideas and attitudes is continuous and gradual, there are moments in his thought that have represented different Montaignes to different generations. His readers have seemed, in a sense, to grow older with him. The stoical humanist of the earliest essays was the Montaigne that his contemporaries saw, the one whom Estienne Pasquier called "another Seneca in our language." In the seventeenth century the skeptical revolt against human presumption was seen as the center of Montaigne, the "Apology for Raymond Sebond" as the one important chapter, "What do I know?" as the essence of his thought. Descartes used his skepticism to show that we need a fresh start and that we cannot doubt without knowing at least that we are thinking when we do. Others earlier and later in the century - Marston, Webster, and probably Shakespeare in England, Pascal in France - found a source of cosmic despair in Montaigne's eloquent catalogue of human limitations. A century after Pascal, Rousseau was struck by the self-portrait that had become Montaigne's principal aim only after the "Apology." Most modern readers, like Gide, are struck by the sturdy individualism, the faith in self, man, and nature, that emerge so triumphantly in the final Essays. All these attitudes are in Montaigne; none contains him.

The style of the Essays is part of the self-portrait. Free, oral, informal, personal, concrete, luxuriant in images, organic and spontaneous in order, ranging from the epigrammatic to the rambling and associative, it communicates the flavor of the man. Abstract notions live and move and breathe under his pen. Here is a sample, on borrowing ideas from others: "The bees plunder the flowers here and there, but afterward they make of them honey, which is all theirs; it is no longer thyme or marjoram" (1: 26, p. 111). Or again, on the theme that small learning makes for presumption, great learning for humility: "To really learned men has happened what happens to ears of wheat: they rise high and lofty, heads erect and proud, as long as they are empty; but when they are full and swollen with grain in their ripeness, they begin to grow humble and lower their horns" (11: 12, p. 370). The whole chapter on education (I: 26) - a subject in which stylistic anemia is endemic - is a stream of images as vivid as they are appropriate. Often Montaigne exemplifies ideas, with the same effect: complacency in the man who, after making a stupid speech, was heard in the lavatory muttering conscientiously that the credit belonged to God, not to himself; dogmatism in the donkey, earnest, contemplative, disdainful, resolute, cocksure; the narcissism of the creative artist in the friend who kept his diary by his daily chamber pots, and in whose nostrils all conversation on other subjects stank. Each reader can fill in his own favorite examples.

His concreteness is everywhere apparent. He himself tells us that the speech he loves is "a speech succulent and sinewy, brief and compressed, not so much daintv and well-combed as vehement and brusque" (1: 26, p. 127). Flaubert described Montaigne's style as a delicious fruit that fills your mouth and throat, "so succulent that the juice goes right to your heart " Emerson found him "wild and savoury as sweet fern," full of a "sincerity and marrow" that reaches to his sentences. "Cut these words," he wrote, "and they would bleed; they are vascular and alive."

Sainte-Beuve summed it up superbly when be wrote: "Montaigne's style is a perpetual figure, renewed at every step; you receive his ideas only in images ... Any one of his pages seems like the most fertile and wild of prairies, a "free and untamed field": long, 'lusty' grasses, perfumes underneath the thorn, a mosaic of flowers, singing insects, streams beneath, the whole thing teeming and rustling ... Thought and image, with him, it is all one.""

Michel de Montaigne was born in 1533 in his father's chateau on one of the vine-covered hills that rise up from the gentle Dordogne about thirty miles east of Bordeaux. The chateau was a "noble house" (conferring minor nobility on its owner) which had been in the family for just over fifty-five years. Great-grandfather Ramon Eyquem had bought it in 1477, and his grandson Pierre Eyquem de Montaigne, Michel's father, had enlarged and greatly improved it. The Eyquems were important and enterprising businessmen with an international trade in fish and wine; the family of Montaigne's mother, Antoinette de Louppes (Lopez) of Toulouse, was of Spanish Jewish origin and equally important and prosperous. The children were brought up in the Catholic faith, and Montaigne himself, three brothers, and one sister remained in it, along with their parents; one brother and two sisters became Protestants. In an age of fierce religious passions the family atmosphere was tolerant.

At the time of Montaigne's birth the moderate humanistic reform of Erasmus, though embattled, seemed triumphant in France. Three years earlier, Francis I, patron of arts and letters, had founded his country's first nontheological school of higher learning, the future College de France. A few months earlier Rabelais had published his first comic story, Pantagruel, mocking the conservative, scholastic Sorbonne, and, in the famous letter from Gargantua to his son, hailing the advent of a new golden age of learning. Four years later, however, a grimmer age began. Erasmus was dead, King Francis had turned sharply against all reformers, Calvin had published his Institutio and was making Geneva a citadel of militant reform. Persecution grew steadily more severe, especially in the 1550's under Henry II, yet French Protestantism grew stronger, particularly in the region around Montaigne and further south. Before Montaigne was thirty, the religious civil wars had broken out. They were to continue intermittently all the rest of his life.

Pierre Eyquem de Montaigne, in his son's words "the best father that ever was," had served in the wars in Italy and there picked up many new ideas which be put into practice in bringing up his eldest son. To make Michel feel close to the common people, he gave him peasant godparents and sent him out to nurse in a nearby village. He obtained the services of a tutor who spoke Latin but no French, so that the boy, hearing and speaking nothing but Latin until he was six, learned this as his native language. At the Collège de Guyenne in Bordeaux, where young Montaigne was sent for the next seven years, his fluency intimidated a faculty that numbered some of the finest Latinists in France, and he took pleasure in performing leading roles in some of their Latin plays. In general, however, this schooling did little but teach him the ugly side of education: monotony, confinement, sadistic punishment.

In 1554 his father purchased a position in the Cour des Aides of Périgueux, newly created by Henry II to deal with certain tax cases and first to bring in money by the customary sale of the new offices. Soon afterward, Pierre de Montaigne was elected mayor of Bordeaux and resigned his counselorship to his son. The new court lasted only three years. Violently opposed by others on whom its powers encroached, it was incorporated in 1557, by order of the king, into the Parlement of Bordeaux, where the newcomers were very grudgingly received. Montaigne spent thirteen years in this body as counselor in the Chambre des Enquêtes, which mainly prepared and reported on cases. His failure to be admitted to the more important Grand' Chambre in 1569 was one of the causes leading to his resignation a year later.

Montaigne was a dutiful counselor, but found the work neither enjoyable nor valuable. The injustice and inadequacy of the laws dismayed him and strengthened his skepticism about the powers of the human mind. Hoping to find more worth-while and congenial employment, he made many trips to Paris and the court, but with few immediate results. Almost the only good thing he derived from his years in the Parlement was his friendship with Etienne de La Boétie.

This bond is eloquently described in Montaigne's chapter "Of Friendship" (1: 28) and in a letter to his father on his friend's death. La Boétie was a little older than Montaigne, married, already a promising young public servant, known as the author of an eloquent treatise against tyranny. The friendship was a blending of souls which Montaigne later never ceased to mourn. While La Boétie lived, Montaigne did not fully share his stoical views; but the death of his friend gave those views a greater hold on him than before. They color the early Essays.

In 1565, after two years of seeking diversion from his grief in various amours, Montaigne followed the urging of his father and married Francoise de La Chassaigne, the daughter of a colleague. She bore him six children, only one of whom lived beyond infancy. Montaigne was a reasonably dutiful husband, but his remarks about marriage are mainly caustic.

In 1568 his father died, leaving him the title and the estate. Before his death Pierre de Montaigne had asked his son to put into French the Latin "Book of Creatures, or Natural Theology" of the fifteenth-century Spaniard Raymond Sebond, an attempt to demonstrate the existence and nature of God by analogies drawn from the levels of his creation - inanimate, vegetable, animal, human. Too presumptuous in its claims for the power of unaided human reason, especially in the Preface, the treatise had been put on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1558-59. When the Index was revised in 1564, the body of the book was removed from the list but the Preface remained. Montaigne's translation is generallv elegant, understanding, and faithful, except in the condemned Preface, where his version sharply reduces Sebond's sweeping claims. Obviously he already felt at this time the same reservations that he showed later in his "Apology for Raymond Sebond."

His new responsibilities as head of the family and lord of Montaigne must have made him more impatient than ever with the futility of his duties in the Parlement. After a vain attempt to find more useful work there, be sold his position and went to Paris, where he published most of La Boétie's remaining works, with his own dedications to various public figures. He returned home and solemnized his official retirement with the following Latin inscription on the wall of a little study next to his library:

"In the year of Christ 1571, at the age of thirty-eight, on the last day of February, his birthday, Michel de Montaigne, long weary of the servitude of the court and of public employments, while still entire, retired to the bosom of the learned virgins, where in calm and freedom from all cares be will spend what little remains of his life, now more than half run out. If the fates permit, he will complete this abode, this sweet ancestral retreat; and he has consecrated it to his freedom, tranquillity, and leisure."

The adjustment to idleness and solitude was not easy, as the chapters on those subjects show (1: 8,39). Montaigne evidently intended to write but was not sure what he had to say or how to say it. It took him five or six years of thinking and writing to develop fully the concept of the Essays as a self-portrait, as the trials or tests of his judgment and his natural faculties. The earliest chapters, written in 1572-74, are mainly short and relatively impersonal compilations of anecdotes with a rather brief commentary. In some, however, Montaigne enlarged on certain problems that then beset him, such as death (1: 20), pain (1: 14), solitude (1: 39), and inconsistency (II: 1). As he continued, the chapters became longer, looser in structure, more personal, more consistently on subjects of direct concern to himself. The longest and most skeptical of these, the book-length "Apology for Raymond Sebond," was composed in the main around 1576. After this the self-portrait emerged clearly and became Montaigne's central theme. In 1580 the first two books of Essays were published in Bordeaux.

Meanwhile Montaigne's life was not all in his books. He received the order of Saint Michael; he was made a gentleman-in-ordinary of the king's chamber by Charles IX (and later by Henry III); and he was similarly honored by Henry of Navarre. Sometime between 1572 and 1576, after the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Day, he made a vain attempt to mediate between Henri de Guise and Henry of Navarre. In 1578 be fell ill with the kidney stone, a disease that had killed his father and that filled him with dread. Finding to his delight that life was still bearable, he now felt he had nothing to fear.

His Essays published, he went to Paris, presented a copy to his king, took part in the siege of Protestant-held La Fère, and then set out on a trip, with his brother and several friends, to Rome via the mineral baths of Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. He kept an account of the trip, partly in Italian, in a Travel journal which was not intended for publication and was first published almost two centuries later. Though not a literary work in the same sense as the Essays, it offers a fine view of Montaigne in action and a check on the self-portrait he prepared for publication. There are many details - the comments of the papal censors on the 1580 Essays, Montaigne's behavior as host at a public dance in Italy, his reflections on pain and death after a night of torture from the kidney stone, to name only a few - that found no place in the Essays but deserved to find one.

From Italy he was summoned back late in 1581 to take up his duties as mayor of Bordeaux. He had neither sought nor known of this election in absentia, which showed the confidence placed in him as an able, loyal moderate, by four of the greatest persons in France, who as a rule did not easily agree - Catherine de' Medici, Henry III, Henry of Navarre, and Margaret of Valois. Montaigne served two terms of two years each, the second of which, as his letters show, was extremely busy.The town was Catholic and loyal to Henry III, but there were extremists of the ultra-Catholic League within and Protestant forces nearby. Working closely with Marshal de Matignon, the king's lieutenant-general in Guienne, Montaigne strove successfully to check trouble before it started, and meanwhile helped keep communications open between Protestant Navarre and Catholic France. His mayoralty ended during a plague in Bordeaux that killed nearly half the inhabitants. Out of town at the time, he returned, with the consent of his colleagues the jurats, not into the city but only to the outskirts for the election of his successor. He was to be severely criticized for this three centuries later.

He apparently went back to his chateau and his Essays for about a year. During the siege of Protestant-held Castillon, a few miles away, by a large League army in 1586, he was harassed as a loyal moderate by extremists on either side. Then the plague broke out in the besieged town and spread to Montaigne's home, forcing him to take his family away and lead the unhappy caravan from place to place for six months. By about the end of 1586 he was able to return to his home and his book.

He must have worked steadily and surely to write a great part of Book III of the Essays, plus six hundred-odd additions to Books I and II, in 1587. In the thirteen new chapters, generally longer and more personal than his earlier ones, he expresses his final message: the fruits of his thought and experience, his heightened faith in himself, in man, and in life.

When the first three-book edition was published in Paris in 1588, he took the occasion to go there. His visit, however, probably had a far larger purpose. His arrival was reported by the Spanish ambassador, Don Bernardino de Mendoza, to his king, Philip II, as an important event. Montaigne, according to Mendoza, was representing Henry of Navarre, on the instructions of Marshal de Matignon, in negotiations with Henry III, and was the political mentor of Navarre's influential mistress, Diane (Corisande) d'Andoins de Gramont. This report lends added significance to other facts: Montaigne's role as adviser to Diane de Gramont in the best interests of Henry of Navarre, as revealed by his letter to Matignon of January 18, 1585; the visit of Navarre, three days after his great victory at Contras, to Montaigne in his chateau (October 23, 1587), following which, to the general amazement and quite probably on the advice of Montaigne among others, he passed up the chance to press his advantage with a counterattack that might have seemed more like rebellion than reprisal; Montaigne's arrest in Paris (July 10, 1588) on the orders of the League and his prompt release at the command of the Queen Mother. Clearly his part as adviser to Navarre and negotiator between Navarre and Henry III was far greater than he ever hinted, in the Essays or elsewhere.

Except for one trip to Picardy to visit the family of his possessive admirer, literary executrix, and "covenant daughter," Marie de Gournay, Montaigne stayed with the court for most of 1588, in Paris, Chartres, Rouen, and finally Blois, where the Estates-General met. He may well have been there when the king in desperation had Henri de Guise assassinated, but he had probably left by the time the Queen Mother died, a little later. He was still active in his native region in the following year, when Henry III was assassinated in turn and Navarre succeeded him as Henry IV. Montaigne, though loyal to Henry III, had always liked and admired Navarre and wished him well; his fondest hope, it would seem, was to serve him as a candid, unofficial adviser (see III: 13, pp. 825-26). Two letters of 1590 from Montaigne to Henry IV show that only accident and ill health kept him from joining his new king at court. He still hoped to join him in Paris, but died before the king could enter his capital.

Montaigne continued to work on his book in the few years of life he had left. He wrote no new chapters but made countless additions - about one-quarter of the whole work in total length - in the marlins of a copy of the 1588 edition now known as the "Bordeaux Copy." For the new edition he chose a new and appropriate epigraph: "He acquires strength as he goes." Marie de Gournay in 1595 incorporated the new material into the first complete edition of the Essays. Meanwhile, in his sixtieth year, Montaigne's health had failed him. A throat inflammation, combined with the stone and other ailments, brought him to a peaceful death, as be listened to Mass in his bed, on September 13, 1592.

The change and development of Montaigne's ideas was an organic process. The terms most often used to describe it - 'stoical" period (1572-74), skeptical crisis (1576), "epicurean" period (1578-92) - are handy, but less useful than they might be. In the earliest essays ( 1572-74) Montaigne reveals himself as an apprehensive humanist, obsessed with the problem of meeting pain and death bravely, looking to reason and will for support, trying to learn by premeditation to play his proper part. Cato the Younger is his hero; death to him is the goal of a life in which there is less to hope for than to fear. However, in a few essays of 1573-74 (especially 11: 2, 3) he begins to criticize the heroics of the sages. He finds their tension incompatible with consistency, their presumption about human will power comical, and suicide, their panacea, unchristian, unnatural, and even cowardly. The "Apology for Raymond Sebond," mainly written around 1576, is among other things a sweeping and final rejection of the humanistic, rather stoical attitude that Montaigne bad earlier admired. Man, he now argues - at least man without divine grace - is a creature distinguished mainly by his presumption, no wiser, happier, or better than the animals. His reason, on which he prides himself, has taught him no certain truth and can teach him none in the future; he does not know and he cannot know. A creature of flux at sea in a world of flux, he cannot rise above humanity unless God chooses, by extraordinary favor, to lend him a band. Meanwhile he will do well to gain such wisdom as he can from an awareness of his ignorance.

Destructive though it is, the "Apology" leads logically as well as chronologically to self-study and self-portrayal. Much of its skeptical reasoning bears on the knowledge of externals. The knowledge of self is not clearly ruled out as impossible; indeed it is strongly recommended. "If man does not know himself," Montaigne asks in effect, "what can he know?" He concludes that man lacks self-knowledge but can acquire a measure of it by candid self-examination, which will lead to a certain skepticism but is likely to lead beyond it.

Certainly Montaigne is led beyond it, and promptly. Already the late essays of the first two books reveal a greatly heightened assurance about many things. "Of the Resemblance of Children to Fathers" (II: 37) shows Montaigne's repudiation of the earlier philosophy of tension confirmed by his success in enduring the long-dreaded ailment of the stone. "Of Presumption" (11: 17) offers the first statement that Montaigne's subject is man, and a long self-portrait stressing the averageness that makes him a typical specimen to be studied and the judicious detachment that fits him to make a study of himself. "Of the Education of Children" (I: 26) shows how much man can do, by the cultivation of his judgment, to fashion himself into an independent moral being. The same chapter reveals how far Montaigne has come from the early view "That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die" (1:20) when he states that "it is philosophy that teaches us to live."

Thus the final essays (1578-80) of the first two books show Montaigne's full confidence in himself and his method. Even though he often speaks with comic deprecation about using himself as the subject of his book, be also makes clear his conviction that there is value in his findings. Still lacking, however, is his later sense of the unity of mankind, without which one man's portrait may have no value for another man. The final words of the first two books, like the first chapter of each, are a reminder of human diversity.

Book III is full of a new sense of human unity and solidarity and of the confidence in man that goes with it. Montaigne owes at least some of this to the success of the first Essays, the friendly welcome he found almost everywhere on his Italian trip, his two successful terms as mayor, and the simple courage he observed in the peasants of his region during the plague. His new feeling is best expressed in the formula, "Each man bears the entire form of man's estate' (III: 2, p. 611). Montaigne is still aware of diversity, to be sure, and indeed finds it more striking than unity; but now he sees a balance between the two: "If our faces were not similar, we could not distinguish man from beast; if they were not dissimilar, we could not distinguish man from man" (III: 13, p. 819). Not only has he reached conclusions for himself, but he is ready to recommend them to others.

These conclusions are summed up in the final pages of his final chapter, "Of Experience." Man's greatest and most dangerous folly, Montaigne argues, is his wish to reject the human condition. Within the limitations of man and of life lie great resources for wisdom, goodness, and happiness. Natural pleasures, whether of body or soul, should be gratefully accepted, not sourly disdained. Pain and grief should be confined, not cultivated, but at the same time recognized as necessary foils to pleasure and happiness. The arbitrariness of the soul, which makes it an imperfect instrument of knowledge, gives it absolute power to make what it will of the things we experience. "Our good and our ill depend on ourselves alone" (1: 50, p. 220).

To accept the human condition is to accept our two parts, body and soul, not as slave and master but as relatively equal parts that should be friends. We are neither a body nor a soul, but both; neither brutes nor angels, but men. Though some people do achieve sanctity, they are rare and privileged souls; others are rash to attempt it, for failure to attain it usually corrupts: supercelestial thoughts, Montaigne notes sardonically, tend to go hand in band with subterranean conduct. We cannot even wholly will to be very different from what we naturally are; that is why true repentance is so rare. Some imp of the perverse drives us to set ourselves standards that we cannot live up to. "They want to get out of themselves and escape from the man. That is madness: instead of changing into angels, they change into beasts."

Wisdom, goodness, and happiness depend on our treating ourselves, not with complacency and laxity, but with a measure of fairness and kindness. The golden rule must work both ways. Only if we accept our limitations without rancor can we recognize the privilege and dignity of being human. To do so is the highest achievement of human wisdom. Montaigne strives repeatedly in his final pages to compress this into a formula: 'There is nothing so beautiful and legitimate as to play the man well and properly. . . . It is an absolute perfection and virtually divine to know bow to enjoy our being rightfully." Perhaps his best statement of his final message is this:
"We are great fools. 'He has spent his life in idleness, 'we say; 'I have done nothing today.' What, have you not lived? That is not only the fundamental but the most illustrious of your occupations. . . . To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquillity in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately."





Tacitus reports, that among certain barbarian kings their manner was, when they would make a firm obligation, to join their right hands close to one another, and intertwist their thumbs; and when, by force of straining, the blood it appeared in the ends, they lightly pricked them with some sharp instrument, and mutually sucked them.

Physicians say, that the thumbs are the master fingers of the hand, and that their Latin etymology is derived from "pollere." The Greeks called them Anticheir, as who should say, another hand. And it seems that the Latins also sometimes take it in this sense for the whole hand;

"Sed nec vocibus excitata blandis, Molli pollice nec rogata, surgit."

It was at Rome a signification of favor to depress and turn in the thumbs:

"Fautor utroque tuum laudabit pollice ludum:"

and of disfavor to elevate and thrust them outward:

"Converso pollice vulgi, Quemlibet occidunt populariter."

The Romans exempted from war all such were maimed in the thumbs, as having no more sufficient strength to hold their weapons. Augustus confiscated the strength of a Roman knight, who had maliciously cut off the thumbs of two young children he had, to excuse them from going into the armies: and before him, the senate, in the time of the Italic war, had condemned Caius Vatienus to perpetual imprisonment, and confiscated all his goods, for having purposely cut off the thumb of his left hand, to exempt himself from that expedition. Some one, I have forgotten who, having won a naval battle, cut off the thumbs of all his vanquished enemies, to render them incapable of fighting and of handling the oar. The Athenians also caused the thumbs of the Aeginatans to be cut off, to deprive them of the superiority in the art of navigation.

In Lacedaemon, pedagogues chastised their scholars by biting their thumb.




I cannot allow of the way in which we settle for ourselves the duration of our life. I see that the sages contract it very much in comparison of the common opinion: "What," said the younger Cato to those who would stay his hand from killing himself, "am I now of an age to be reproached that I go out of the world too soon?" And yet he was but eight-and-forty years old. He thought that to be a mature and advanced age, considering how few arrive unto it. And such as, soothing their thoughts with I know not what course of nature, promise to themselves some years beyond it, could they be privileged from the infinite number of accidents to which we are by a natural subjection exposed, they might have some reason so to do. What an idle conceit is it to expect to die of a decay of strength, which is the effect of extremest age, and to propose to ourselves no shorter lease of life than that, considering it is a kind of death of all others the most rare and very seldom seen? We call that only a natural death; as if it were contrary to nature to see a man break his neck with a fall, be drowned in shipwreck, be snatched away with a pleurisy or the plague, and as if our ordinary condition did not expose us to these inconveniences. Let us no longer flatter ourselves with these fine words; we ought rather, peradventure, to call that natural, which is general, common, and universal.

To die of old age is a death rare, extraordinary, and singular, and therefore, so much less natural than the others 'tis the last and extremest sort of dying: and the more remote, the less to be hoped for. It is indeed, the bourn beyond which we are not to pass, and which the law of nature has set as a limit, not to be exceeded: but it is, withal, a privilege she is rarely seen to give us to last till then. 'Tis a lease she only signs by particular favor, and it may, be to one only in the space of two or three ages, and then with a pass to boot, to carry him through all the traverses and difficulties she has strewed in the way of this long career. And therefore my opinion is, that when once forty years we should consider it as an age to which very few arrive. For seeing that men do not usually proceed so far, it is a sign that we are pretty well advanced; and since we have exceeded the ordinary bounds, which is the just measure of life, we ought not to expect to go much further; having escaped so many precipices of death whereinto we have seen so many other men fall, we should acknowledge that so extraordinary a fortune as that which has hitherto rescued us from those eminent perils, and kept us alive beyond the ordinary term of living, is not likely to continue long.

'Tis a fault in our very laws to maintain this error: these say that a man is not capable of managing his own estate till he be five-and-twenty years old, whereas he will have much ado to manage his life so long. Augustus cut off five years from the ancient Roman standard, and declared, that thirty years old was sufficient for a judge. Servius Tullius superseded the knights of above seven-and-forty years of age from the fatigues of war; Augustus dismissed them at forty-five; though methinks it seems a little unreasonable that men should be sent to the fireside till five-and-fifty or sixty years of age. I should be of opinion that our vocation and employment should be as far as possible extended for the public good: I find the fault on the other side, that they do not employ us early enough. This emperor was arbiter of the whole world at nineteen, and yet would have a man to be thirty before he could be fit to determine a dispute about a gutter.

For my part, I believe our souls are adult at twenty as much as they are ever like to be, and as capable then as ever. A soul that has not by that time given evident earnest of its force and virtue will never after come to proof. The natural qualities and virtues produce what they have of vigorous and fine, within that term or never.

"Si l'espine nou picque quand nai A pene que picque jamai,"

as they say in Dauphine.

Of all the great human actions I ever heard or read of, of what sort soever, I have observed, both in former ages and our own, more were performed before the age of thirty than after; and this ofttimes in the very lives of the same men. May I not confidently instance in those of Hannibal and his great concurrent Scipio? The better half of their lives they lived upon the glory they had acquired in their youth; great men after, 'tis true, in comparison of others; but by no means in comparison of themselves. As to my own particular, I do certainly believe that since that age, both my understanding and my constitution have rather decayed than improved, and retired rather than advanced. 'Tis possible, that with those who make the best use of their time, knowledge and experience may increase with their years; but vivacity, promptitude, steadiness, and other pieces of us, of much greater importance, and much more essentially our own, languish and decay.

"Ubi jam validis quassatum est viribus aevi Corpus, et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus, Claudicat ingenium, delirat linquaque, mensque."

Sometimes the body first submits to age, sometimes the mind; and I have seen enough who have got a weakness in their brains before either in their legs or stomach; and by how much the more it is a disease of no great pain to the sufferer, and of obscure symptoms, so much greater is the danger. For this reason it is that I complain of our laws, not that they keep us too long to our work, but that they set us to work too late. For the frailty of life considered, and to how many ordinary and natural rocks it is exposed, one ought not to give up so large a portion of it to childhood, idleness and apprenticeship.



CONSIDERING the proceeding of a Painters worke I have, a desire hath possessed mee to imitate him: He maketh choice of the most convenient place and middle of everie wall, there to place a picture, laboured with all his skill and sufficiencie; and all void places about it he filleth up with antike Boscage or Crotesko works; which are fantasticall pictures, having no grace, bnt in the variety and strangenesse of them. And what are these my compositions in truth, other than antike works and monstrous bodies, patched and hudled up together of divers members without any certaine or well ordered figure, having neither order, dependencie, or proportion, but casual and framed by chance?

Definit in piscem mulier formosa superne. -- HOR. Art. Poet. 4.

A woman faire for parts superior,
Ends in a fish for parts inferior.

Touching this second point I goe as farre as my Painter, but for the other and better part I am farre behinde: for my sufficiency reacheth not so farre as that I dare undertake a rich, a polished, and, according to true skill, an art-like table. I have advised myselfe to borr ow one of Steven de la Boetic, who with this kinde of worke shall honour all the world. It is a discourse he entitled Voluntary_Servitude, but those who have not knowne him, have since very properly baptized the same, The Against-one. In his first youth he writ, by way of Essaie, in honour of libertie_against_Tyrants. It hath long since beene dispersed amongst men of understanding, not without great and well deserved commendations: for it is full of wit and containeth as much learning as may be: yet doth it differ much from the best he can do. And if in the age I knew him in, he would have undergone my dessigne to set his fantasies downe in writing, we should doubtlesse see many rare things, and which would very meerely approch the honour of antiquity: for especially touching that part of natures gifts, I know none may be compared to him. But it was not long of him, that ever this Treatise came to mans view, and I beleeve he never saw it since it first escaped his hands: with certaine other notes concerning the edict of Januarie, famous by reason of our intestine warre, which haply in other places finde their deserved praise. It is all I could ever recover of his reliques (whom when death seized, he by his last will and testament, left with so kinde remembrance, heire and executor of his librarie and writings) besides the little booke, I since caused to be published: To which his pamphlet I am particularly most bounden, for so much as it was the instrumentall meane of our first acquaintance. For it was shewed me long time before I saw him; and gave me the first knowledge of his name, addressing, and thus nourishing that unspotted friendship which we (so long as it has pleased God) have so sincerely, so entire and inviolably maintained between us, that truly a man shall not commonly heare of the like; and amongst our moderne men no signe of any such is seene. So many parts are re quired to the erecting of such a one, that it may be counted a wonder if fortune once in three ages contract the like. There is nothing to which Nature hath more addressed us than to societie. And Aristotle saith that perfect Law-givers have had more regardful care of friendship than of justice. And the utmost drift of its perfection is this. For generally, all those amities nourished by voluptuousnesse or profit, publike or private need, are thereby so much the lesse faire and and so much the lesse true amities, in that they intermeddle other causes, scope, and fruit with friendship, than it selfe alone: Nor doe those foure ancient kindes of friendships, Naturall, sociall, hospitable, and venerian, either particularly or conjointly beseeme the same. That from children to parents may rather be termed respect: Friendship is nourished by communication, which by reason of the over-great disparitie cannot bee found in them, and would happly offend the duties of nature: for neither all the secret thoughts of parents can be communicated unto children, lest it might engender an unbeseeming familiaritie betweene them, nor the admonitions and corrections (which are the chiefest offices of friendship) could be exercised from children to parents. There have nations beene found, where, by custome, children killed their parents, and others where parents slew their children, thereby to avoid the hindrance of enterbearing one another in after times: for naturally one dependeth from the ruine of another. There have Philosophers beene found disdaining this naturall conjunction: witnesse Aristippus, who being urged with the affection he ought his children, as proceeding from his loyns, began to spit, saying, That also that excrement proceeded from him, and that also we engendred wormes and lice. And that other man, whom Plutarke would have perswaded to agree with his brother, answered, 'I care not a straw the more for him, though he came out of the same wombe I did.' Verily the name of Brother is a glorious name, and full of loving kindnesse, and therefore did he and I terme one another sworne brother: but this commixture, dividence, and sharing of goods, this joyning wealth to wealth, and that the riches of one shall be the povertie of another, doth exceedingly distemper and distract all brotherly alliance, and lovely conjunction: If brothers should conduct the progresse of their advancement and thrift in one same path and course, they must necessarily oftentimes hinder and crosse one another. Moreover, the correspondencie and relation that begetteth these true and mutually perfect amities, why shall it be found in these? The father and the sonne may very well be of a farre differing complexion, and so many brothers. He is my sonne, he is my kinsman; but he may be foole, a bad, or a peevish-minded man. And then according as they are friendships which the law and dutie of nature doth command us, so much the lesse of our owne voluntarie choice and libertie is there required unto it: And our genuine libertie hath no production more properly her owne, than that of affection and amitie. Sure I am, that concerning the same I have assaied all that might be, having had the best and most indulgent father that ever was, even to his extremest age, and who from father to sonne was descended of famous house, and touching this rare-seene vertue of brotherly concord very exemplare:

 ------ et ipse
Notus in fratres ommi paterni. --  Hor ii. Od. ii 6.

To his brothers knowne so kinde,
As to beare a fathers minde.

To compare the affection toward women unto it although it proceed from our owne free choice, a man cannot, nor may it be placed in this ranke: Her fire, I confesse it

(----- neque enim est dea nescia nostri
Quæ dulcem curis miscat amaritiem.)

(Nor is that Goddesse ignorant of me,
Whose bitter-sweets with my cares mixed be.)

to be more active, more fervent, and more sharpe. But it is a rash and wavering fire, waving and divers: the fire of an ague subject to fits and stints, and that hath but slender hold-fast of us. In true friendship, it is a generall and universall heat, and equally tempered, a constant and setled heat, all pleasure and smoothnes, that hath no pricking or stinging in it, which the more it is in lustfull love, the more is it but a raging and mad desire in following that which flies us,

Come seque la lepre il cacciatore
Al fredo, al caldo, alla montagna, al lito,
Ne piu l'estima poi che presa vede,
E sol dietro a chi fugge afretta il piede.--Arios. can. x. st. 7.

Ev'n as the huntsman doth the hare pursue, I
n cold, in heat, on mountaines, on the shore,
But cares no more, when he her ta'en espies,
Speeding his pace only at that which flies.

As soone as it creepeth into the termes of friendship, that is to say, in the agreement of wits, it languisheth and vanisheth away: enjoying doth lose it, as having a corporall end, and subject to satietie. On the other side, friendship is enioyed according as it is desired, it is neither bred, nor nourished, nor increaseth but in jovissance, as being spirituall, and the minde being refined by use custome. Under this chiefe amitie, these fading affections have cometimes found place in me, lest I should speake of him, who in his verses speakes but too much of it. So are these two passions entered into me in knowledge one of another; but in comparison never: the first flying a high, and keeping a proud pitch, disdainfully beholding the other to passe her points farre under it. Concerning marriage besides that it is a covenant which hath nothing free but the entrance, the continuance being forced and constrained depending else-where than from our will, and a match ordinarily concluded to other ends: A thousand strange knots are therein commonly to be unknit, able to break the web, and trouble the whole course of a lively affection; whereas in friendship there is no commerce or busines depending on the same, but it selfe. Seeing (to speake truly) that the ordinary sufficiency of women cannot answer this conference and communication the nurse of this sacred bond: nor seeme their mindes strong enough to endure the pulling of a knot so hard so fast, and durable. And truly, if without that, such a genuine and voluntarie acquaintance might be contracted, where not only mindes had this entire jovissance, but also bodies, a share of the alliance, and where a man might wholly be engaged: It is certaine, that friendship would thereby be more compleat and full: But this sex could never yet by any example attaine unto it, and is by ancient schooles rejected thence. And this other Greeke licence is justly abhorred by our customes, which notwithstandnlg, because according to use it had so necessarie a disparitie of ages, and diference of offices betweene lovers, did no more sufficiently answer the perfect union and agreement, which here we require: Quis est enim iste amor amicitiiæ? cur neque deformem adolescentem quisquam amat, neque formosum senem? (Cic. Tusq. Que. iv.) 'For, what love is this of friendship? why doth no man love either a deformed young man, or a beautifull old man?' For even the picture the Academie makes of it, will not (as I suppose) disavowe mee, to say thus in her behalfe: That the first furie, enspired by the son of Venus in the lovers hart, upon the object of tender youths-flower, to which they allow all insolent and passionate violences, an immoderate heat may produce, was simply grounded upon an externall beauty; a false image of corporall generation: for in the spirit it had no power, the sight whereof was yet concealed, which was but in his infancie, and before the age of budding. For, if this furie did seize upon a base minded courage, the meanes of its pursuit were riches, gifts, favour to the advancement of dignities, and such like vile merchandice, which they reprove. If it fell into a more generous minde, the interpositions were likewise generous: Philosophicall instructions, documents to reverence religion, to obey the lawes, to die for the good of his countrie: examples of valor, wisdome and justice; the lover endevoring and studying to make himselfe acceptable by the good grace and beauty of his minde (that of his body being long since decayed) hoping by this mentatll societie to establish a more firme and permanent bargaine. When this pursuit attained the effect in due season (for by not requiring in a lover, he should bring leasure and discretion in his enterprise, they require it exactly in the beloved; forasmuch as he was to judge of an internall beauty, of a difficile knowledge, and abstruse discovery) then by the interposition of a spiritual beauty was the desire of a spiritual conception engendred in the beloved. The latter was here chiefest; the corporall, accidentall and second, altogether contrarie to the lover. And therefore doe they preferre the beloved, and verifie that the gods likewise preferre the same: and greatly blame the Poet Æschylus, who in the love betweene Achilles and Patroclus ascribeth the lovers part unto Achilles, who was in the first and beardlesse youth of his adolescency and the fairest of the Græcians. After this general communitie, the mistris and worthiest part of it, predominant and exercising her offices (they say the most availefull commodity did thereby redound both to the private and publike). That it was the force of countries received the use of it, and the principall defence of equitie and libertie: witnesse the comfortable loves of Hermodius and Aristogiton. Therefore name they it sacred and divine, and it concerns not them whether the violence of tyrants, or the demisnesse of the people be against them: To conclude, all that can be alleaged in favor of the Academy, is to say, that it was friendship, a thing which hath no bad reference unto the Stoical definition of love: Amorem conatunt esse amicitiæ faciendæ ex pulchritudinis specie. (CIC. Tusc. Qu. ii,. c. 84. 2) 'That love is an endevour of making friendship, by the show of beautie.' I returne to my description in a more equitable and equall manner. Omnino amicitiæ, corroboratis jam confirmatisque, ingeniis et ætatibus, judicandæ sunt (Cic. Amic.): 'Clearely friendships are to be judged by wits, and ages already strengthened and confirmed.' As for the rest, those we ordinarily call friendes and amities, are but æquaintances and familiarities, tied together by some occasion or commodities, by meanes whereof our mindes are entertained. In the amitie I speake of, they entermixe and confound themselves one in the other, with so  universall a commixture, that they weare out and can no more finde the seame that hath conjoined them together. If a man urge me to tell wherfore I loved him, I feele it cannot be expressed, but by answering; Because it was he, because it was myself. There is beyond all my discourse, and besides what I can particularly report of it I know not what inexplicable and fatall power a meane and a mediatrix of this indissoluble union. We sought one another before we had seene one another, and by the reports we heard one of another; which wrought greater violence in us, than the reason of reports may well beare; I thinke by some secret ordinance of the heavens, we embraced one another by our names. And at our first meeting which was by chance at a great feast, and solemne meeting of a whole towneship, we found our selves so surprized, so knowne, so acquainted, and so combinedly bound together, that from thence forward, nothing was so neer unto us as one unto anothers. He writ an excellent Latyne Satyre since published; by which he excuseth and expoundeth the precipitation of our acquaintance, so suddenly come to her perfection; Sithence it must continue so short a time, and begun so late (for we were both growne men, and he some yeares older than my selfe) there was no time to be lost. And it was not to bee modelled or directed by the paterne of regular and remisse friendship, wherein so many precautions of a long and preallable conversation are required. This hath no other Idea than of it selfe, and can have no reference but to itselfe. It is not one especiall consideration, nor two, nor three, nor foure, nor a thousand: It is I wot not what kinde of quintessence, of all this commixture, which having seized all my will, induced the same to plunge and lose it selfe in his, which likewise having seized all his will, brought it to lose and plunge it selfe in mine, with a mutuall greedinesse, and with a semblable concurrance. I may truly say, lose, reserving nothing unto us, that might properly be called our owne, nor that was either his or mine. When Lelius in the presence of the Romane Consuls, who after the condemnation of Tiberius Gracchus, pursued all those that had beene of his acquaintance, came to enquire of Caius Blosius (Who was one of his chiefest friends) what he would have done for him, and that he answered, 'All things.' 'What, all things?' replied he. 'And what if he had willed thee to burne our temples?' Blosius answered, 'He would never have commanded such a thing.' 'But what if he had done it?' replied Lelius. The other answered, 'I would have obeyed him.' If hee were so perfect a friend to Gracchus as histories report, he needed not offend the Consuls with this last and bold confession, and should not have departed from the assurance hee had of Gracchus his minde. But yet those who accuse this answer as seditious, understand not well this mysterie: and doe not presuppose in what termes he stood, and that he held Gracchus his will in his sleeve, both by power and knowledge. They were rather friends than Citizens, rather friends than enemies of their countrey, or friends of ambition and trouble. Having absolutely committed themselves one to another, they perfectly held the reines of one anothers inclination: and let this yoke be guided by vertue and conduct of reason (because without them it is altogether, impossible to combine and proportion the same). The answer of Blosius was such as it should be. If their affections miscarried, according to my meaning, they were neither friends one to other, nor friends to themselves. As for the rest, this answer sounds no more than mine would doe, to him that would in such sort enquire of me; if your will should command you to kill your daughter, would you doe it? and that I should consent unto it: for, that heareth no witnesse of consent to doe it: because I am not in doubt of my will, and as little of such a friends will. It is not in the power of the worlds discourse to remove me from the certaintie I have of his intentions and judgments of mine: no one of its actions might be presented unto me, under what shape soever, but I would presently linde the spring and motion of it. Our mindes have jumped so unitedly together, they have with so fervent an affection consideredof each other, and with like affection so discovered and sounded, even to the very bottome of each others heart and entrails, that I did not only know his, as well as mine owne, but would (verily) rather have trusted him concerning any matter of mine than my selfe. Let no man compare any of the other common friendships to this. I have as much knowledge of them as another, yea of the perfectest of their kind; yet wil I not perswade any man to confound their rules, for so a man might be deceived. In these other strict friendships a man must march with the bridle of wisdome and precaution in his hand: the bond is not so strictly tied but a man may in some sort distrust the same. Love him (said Chilon) as if you should one day hate him againe. Hate him as if you should love him againe. This precept, so abhominable in this soveraigne and mistris Amitie, is necessarie and wholesome in the use of vulgar and customarie friendships: toward which a man must employ the saying Aristotle was wont so often repeat, 'Oh ye friends, there is no perfect friend.'
   In this noble commerce, offices and benefits (nurses of other amities) deserve not so much as to bee accounted of: this confusion so full of our wills is cause of it: for even as the friendship I beare unto my selfe, admits no accrease, by any succour I give my selfe in any time of need, whatsoever the Stoickes allege; and as I acknowledge no thanks unto my selfe for any service I doe unto myselfe so the union of such friends, being truly of perfect, makes them lose the feeling of such duties, and hate, and expell from one another these words of division and difference: benefit, good deed, dutie, obligation, acknowledgement, prayer, thanks, and such their like. All things being by effect common betweene them. Wils, thoughts, judgements, goods, wives, children, honour, and life; and their mutual agreement, being no other than one soule in two bodies, according to the fit definition of Aristotle, they can neither lend or give ought to each other. See here the reason why Lawmakers, to honour marriage with some imaginary resenmblance of this divine bond, inhibite donations between husband and wife; meaning thereby to inferre, that all things should peculiarly bee proper to each of them, and that they have nothing to divide and share together. If in the friendship whereof I speake, one might give unto another, the receiver of the benefit should binde his fellow. Fore each seeking more than any other thing to doe each other good, he who yeelds both matter and occasion, is the man sheweth himselfe liberall, giving his friend that contentment, to effect towards him what he desireth most. When the Philosopher Diogenes wanted money, he wvas wont to say that he redemanded the same of his friends, and not that he demanded it: And to show how that is practised by effect, I will relate an ancient singular example. Eudamidas the Corinthian had two friends: Charixenus a Sycionian, and Aretheus a Corinthian; being upon his death-bed, and very poore, and his two friends very rich, thus made his last will and testament: 'To Aretheus, I bequeath the keeping of my mother, and to maintaine her when she shall be old: To Charixenus the marrying of my daughter, and to give her as great a dowry as he may: and in case one of them shall chance to die before, I appoint the survivor to substitute his charge, and supply his place.' Those that first saw this testament laughed and mocked at the same; but his heires being advertised thereof, were very well pleased, and received it with singular contentment. And Charixenus, one of them, dying five dayes after Eudamidas, the substitution being declared in favour of Aretheus, he carefully and very kindly kept and maintained his mother, and of the five talents that he was worth he gave two and a halfe in marriage to one only daughter he had, and the other two and a halfe to the daughter of Eudamidas, whom he married both in one day. This example is very ample, if one thing were not, which is the multitude of friends: For, this perfect amity I speake of, is indivisible: each man doth so wholly give himself unto his friend, that he hath nothing left him to divide else-where: moreover he is grieved that he is [not] double, triple, or quadruple, and hath not many soules or sundry wils, that he might conferre them all upon this subject. Common friend-ships may bee divided; a man may love beauty in one, facility of behaviour in another and wisdome in another, paternity in this, fraternitie in that man, and so forth: but this amitie that possesseth the soule, and swaies it in all soveraigntie, it is impossible it should be double. If two at one instant should require helpe, to which would you run? Should they crave contrary offices of you, what order would you follow? Should one commit a matter to your silence, which if the other knew would greatly profit him, what course would you take? Or how would you discharge yourselfe? A singular and principall friendship disolveth all other duties, and freeth all othet obligations. The secret I have sworne not to reveale to another, I may without perjurie impart it unto him, who is no other but my selfe. It is a great and strange wonder for a man to double himselfe; and those that talke of tripling know not, nor cannot reach into the height of it. 'Nothing is extreme that hath his like.' And he who shal presuppose that of two I love the one as wel as the other, and that they enter-love one another, and love me as much as I love them: he multiplieth in brother-hood, a thing most singular, and a lonely one, and than which one alone is also the rarest to be found in the world. The remainder of this history agreeth very wel with what I said; for, Eudamidas giveth us a grace and favor to his friends to employ them in his need: he leaveth them as his heires of his liberality, which consisteth in putting the meanes into their hands to doe him good. And doubtlesse the force of friendship is much more nobly shewen in his deed than in Aretheus. To conclude, they are imaginable effects to him that hath not tasted them; and which makes me wonderfully to honor the answer of that young Souldier to Cyrus, who enquiring of him what he would take for a horse with which he had lately gained the prize of a race, and whether he would change him for a Kingdome? 'No surely, my Liege (said he), yet would I willingly forgoe him to gaine a true friend, could I but finde a man worthy of so precious an alliance.' He said not ill, in saying 'could I but finde.' For, a man shall easily finde men fit for a superficial acquaintance; but in this, wherein men negotiate from the very centre of their harts, and make no spare of any thing, it is moste requisite all the wards and springs be sincerely wrought and perfectly true. In confederacies, which hold but by one end, men have nothing to provide for, but for the imperfections, which particularly doe interest and concerne that end and respect. It is no great matter what religion my Physician or Lawyer is of: this consideration hath nothing in common with the offices of that friendship they owe mee. So doe I in the familiar acquaintances that those who serve me contract with me. I am nothing inquisitive whether a Lackey be chaste or no, but whether he be diligent: I feare not a gaming Muletier, so much as if he be weake; nor a hot swearing Cooke, as one that is ignorant and unskilfull; I never meddle with saying what a man should doe in the world; there are over man others that doe it; but what my selfe doe in the world.

Mihi sic usus est: Tibi, ut opus est facto, face. -- Ter. Heau. act. i. sc. 1, 28.

So is it requisite for me;
Doe thou as needfull is for thee.

Concerning familiar table-talke, I rather acquaint my selfe with and follow a merry conceited humour, than a wise man: And in bed I rather prefer beauty than goodnesse; and in society or conversation of familiar discourse, I respect rather sufficiencye though without Preud'hommie, and so of all things else. Even as he that was found riding on an hobby-horse, playing with his children besought him who thus surprized him not to speake of it until he were were a father himselfe, supposing the tender fondnesse and fatherly passion which then would posesse his minde should make him an impartiall judge of such an action; so would I wish to speake to such as had tried what I speake of: but knowing how far such an amitie is from the common use, and how seld seene and rarely found, I looke not to finde a competent judge. For, even the discourses, which sterne antiquitie hath left us concermng this subject, seeme to me but faint and forcelesse in respect of the feeling I have of it: And in that point the effects exceed the very precepts of philosophie.

Nil ego contulerim jucundo sanus antico.-- Hor. i. Sat. v 44.

For me, be I well in my wit.
Nought, as a merry friend, so fit.

Ancient Menander accounted him happy that had but met the shadow of a true friend: verily he had reason to say so, especially if he had tasted of any: for truly, if I compare all the rest of my forepassed life, which although I have, by the meere mercy of God, past at rest and ease, and except the losse of so deare a friend, free from all grievous affliction, with an ever-quietnesse of minde, as one that have taken my naturall and originall commodities in good payment, without searching any others: if, as I say, I compare it all unto the foure yeares I so happily enjoyed the deare society of that worthy man, it is nought but a vapour, nought but a darke and yrksome light. Since the time I lost him,

               quem semper acerbum,
Semper honoratum (sic Dii voluistis) habebo.  Virg. Æn. iii. 49.

Which I shall ever hold a bitter day,
Yet ever honour'd (so my God t'obey).

 I doe but languish, I doe but sorrow: and even those pleasures, all things present me with, in stead of yeelding me comfort, doe but redouble the griefe of his losse. We were copartners in all things. All things were with us at halfe; me thinkes I have stolne his part from him.

---- Nec fas esse ulla me voluptate hic frui
Decrevi, tantisper dum ille abest meus particeps. --  Ter. Heau. act. 1. sc. i, 97.

I have set downe, no joy enjoy I may.
As long as he my partner is away.

  I was so accustomed to be ever two, and so enured to be never single, that me thinks I am but halfe my selfe.

Illam mea si partem animæ tulit,
  Maturior vis, quid moror altera,
  Nec charus æque nec superestes,
  Integer? Ille dies utramque
Duxit ruinam.  -- Hor. ii. Od. xvii. 5.

Since that part of my soule riper fate reft me,
Why stay I heere the other part he left me?
Not so deere, nor entire, while heere I rest:
That day hath in one ruine both opprest.

There is no action can betide me, or imagination possesse me, but I heare him saying, as indeed he would have done to me; for even as he did excell me by an infinite distance in all other sufficiencies and vertues, so did he in all offices and duties of friendship.

Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus,
Tam chari capitis?  -- i. Od. xxiv. 1.

What modesty or measure may I beare,
In want and wish of him that was so deare?

O misero frater adempte mihi!
Omnia tecum una perierunt gaudia nostra.
Quæ tuus in vita dulcis alebat amor.
Tu mea, tu moriens fregisti commoda frater.
Tecum una tota est nostra sepulta anima,
Cujus ego interitu tota demente fugavi
Hæc studia, atque omnes delicias animi.
Alloquar? audiero nunquam tua verba loquentem
Numquam eqo te vita frater amabilior,
Aspiciam posthac? at certe semper amabo. -- Catul. Eleg. iv. 20, 92, 23, 95, 21, 94, 25; El. i. 9.

O brother rest from miserable me,
All our delights are perished with thee,
Which thy sweet love did nourish in my breath.
With thee my soule is all and whole inshrinde,
At whose death I have cast out of my minde
All my mindes sweet-meats, studies of this kinde
Never shall I, heare thee speake, sapeake with thee?
Thee brother, than life dearer, ne ver see?
Yet shalt thou ever be belov'd of mee,

but let us a little heare this yong man speake, being but sixteene yeares of age.

Because I have found this worke to have since beene published (and to an ill end) by such as seeke to trouble and subvert the state of our common-wealth, nor caring whether they shall reforme it or no; which they have fondly inserted among other writings of their invention, I have revoked my intent, which was to place it here. And lest the Authors memory should any way be interassed with those that could not throughly know his opinions and actions, they shall understand that this subject was by him treated of in his infancie, only by way of exercise, as a subject, common, bare-worne, and wyer-drawne in a thousand bookes. I will never doubt but he beleeved what he writ, and writ as be thought: for hee was so conscientious that no lie did ever passe his lips, yea were it but in matters of sport or play: and I know, that had it beene in his choyce , he would rather have beene borne at Venice than at Sarlac; and good reason why: But he had another maxime deepely imprinted in his minde, which was, carefully to obey, and religiously to submit himselfe to the lawes, under which he was borne. There was never a better citizen, nor more affected to the welfare and quietnesse of his countrie, nor a sharper enemie of the changes, innovations, newfangles, and hurly-burlies of his time: He would more willingly have imployed the utmost of his endevours to extinguish and suppresse, than to favour or further them: His minde was modelled to the patterne of other best ages. But yet in exchange of his serious treatise, I will here set you downe another, more pithie, materiall, and of more consequence, by him likewise produced at that tender age.










How to analyze “Blackberry Picking”

  1. prompt: physical intensity of language = find it.
  2. prompt: deeper understanding. Where is it? How can I pick it out?


  1. Two-parts, right? Picking and hording. Are there other shifts? Point of view. You…we…I.  What does the “you” mean. In story telling it’s used to invite the audience into the story, to make them participate. We versus I. What happens during the “we” part? Versus what happened during the “I” part? We have pleasure together and sorrow alone. Is this all Heaney at age 8 or 40? See Bishop.
  2. Form of the poem? The first stanza is in a sonnet with 8 more lines. Sort of a supper sonnet. What do sonnets do? Questions-answer, now-then, before-after. Particular/general. Look up how sonnet logic works.
  3. The rhyme? It’s a couplet. What do couplets do? There is an immediate repetition, one rhyme close to the next. How does that make it a good form for this subject. What is it about this subject that would make the form appropriate? Childhood repetition, security, nursery rhymes. It feels good to the ear. Look at Popes couplets. Shakespeare’s couplet.
  4. Enjambment in the line? The unit of utterance is the unit of meaning. Is there any enjambment? “lust/for picking,” “covered/with” “fair/that all.” What do those three enjambments do to the motion of the poem?
  5. Diction. See prompt. Physical intensity. Mark most physical words in the poem, in sound or connotation: “clot, hard, knot, thickened, blood, stains, lust, inked up, hunger, tins, pots, drills, trekked, picked, blobs, burned, peppered, thorn pricks, sticky, horded, ray-gray, fungus, glutting, stinking, sour, rot” Look at the sounds of these words. What sounds appear. The “k” sound, “t” sound are predominate of all the sounds in the language which sound the most aggressive, the most intense physically. Divide and classify these words. Some are verbs, some are adjectives. To what purpose are they put in here? What do verbs do? What do adjectives do?
  6. Find allusions: Bluebeard. What connotation to you get from this allusion? What words come to mind when you know this story? It’s a legend? A fairytale? Look it up? Plate of eyes? Where are there other child-like instances in the poem: “Horded?” “I felt like crying. It wasn’t fair (very childlike)” As if there is suppose to be justice. Childlike voice in the end. Heaney at 8 and Heaney at 40.
  7. Are there metaphors. Hard as a knot, like thickened wine, burned like a plate of eyes, palms as sticky as Bluebeards.
  8. Most vivid images: thickened wine, plate of eyes, palms sticky with blood, rat-gray fungus: (Rat and barn)
  9. Second like of final couplet with the accent on four straight syllables. “Knew they would not” What does it remind you off? Shield of Achilles: Would not live long. Punching it home with a finality.
  10. Notice it says “deeper understanding of the whole experience.” So it’s not just realizing that things don’t keep in life. There is a lust, an energy of youth, unstoppable, all consuming. It is a sort of murder, as if he senses that that he’s doing wrong, that this is too much, that he’s transgressing. He’s guilty. And that “hording” cost him. There are limits, as in the fairy tales. And you must pay if you go beyond the limits.