Ship of Death


Here is a verse composed by Henry Van Dyke Jr “For Katrina’s Sundial”

Time is
Too slow for those who Wait,
Too swift for those who Fear,
Too long for those who Grieve,
Too short for those who Rejoice,
But for those who Love,
Time is not

There is a huge bank of sundial poetry and mottoes.  Many of the epigrams are in latin.  Most are about time, how we use it, how short it is, how our lives are fleeting things.  I also like this poem from Van Dyke where he uses the ship as a metaphor for the life of a person.   Ships as symbols for death are not uncommon.  Perhaps the clearest examples we have are from Pharaonic and Viking burials.  I attach a couple of good examples at the bottom.

Van Dyke was born on November 10th, so I am belatedly wishing him a happy birthday.



Gone from my sight: by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, ‘There, she is gone’

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me – not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, ‘There, she is gone,’
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, ‘Here she comes!’

And that is dying…

Death comes in its own time, in its own way.
Death is as unique as the individual experiencing it.



Model of the Khufu Solar Barge found in his tomb.


Viking ship, Oseberg, a 9th century burial ship, Vikingskiphuset (Viking Ship Museum), Bygdoy peninsula, Oslo, Norway, Scandinavia, Europe

The Oseberg Burial Longboat

Time flies


Sonnet 7: by John Milton

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
stol’n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
but my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
that I to manhood am arriv’d so near;
and inward ripeness doth much less appear,
that some more timely-happy spirits endu’th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
it shall be still in strictest measure ev’n
to that same lot, however mean or high,
toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n:
All is, if I have grace to use it so
as ever in my great Task-Master’s eye.

Time and Tide wait for no man

Donal Time

The most important thing I learned about running my own business is this.  Time is what you sell.

Your time may be worth more or less than another person’s time.  You may introduce effort multipliers, sub-contract work to others & take on employees.  But time is an absolute.  Time is fixed.  Once lost it can never be recovered.

I am not the only person on the planet to come to this realisation.  All of the great people below arrived at the same conclusion from different starting points and in different contexts.  Whether you are Henry Ford driving an assembly line, or Golda Meir establishing national independence, time is an unforgiving juggernaut and you must master time or it will master you.

I am a stickler for punctuality, because punctuality is respect and lateness is rudeness.  My time is my commodity.  If you waste my time you devalue my commodity and by association you devalue me.

Arrogant people rudely waste the time of those they see as being beneath them.  Doctors and Dentists have “waiting rooms”, which are institutionalised time wasting spaces.  The message is clear, the doctor, or dentist, is more important than his or her patient.  The patient wastes time, the consultant does not.

Senior managers in business are often under time pressure.  They make junior managers and staff wait for them.  They arrive late to meetings and for appointments.  This may satisfy their craving for self-importance, but it is highly wasteful.  The time lost by a late senior manager cascades and snowballs from minutes of his time to hours of business time when you take into account all the time wasted by junior staff waiting for him/her.

If you want to increase productivity in your business begin with time.  Make time a religious mission.  Do not accept lateness.  Start meetings on time, wait for no person.  End meetings on time.  If an issue is unresolved it needs another time slot.  Treat everybody’s time with respect, regardless of how junior they are.  If you treat their time with respect, they will begin to value it more.  They will use it more wisely.

If you have a client who consistently wastes time, then build time into your costings.  Make them pay for their waste.  Don’t allow them to waste your time for free.

Finally, when you have freed up time, what do you spend it on?  My brother Rory once told me (tongue in cheek) “I can’t be bothered spending quality time with my kids.  I pawn them off with quantity!”  That’s a valuable way to waste time.  🙂 


It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste;  Henry Ford

Lost time is never found again;  Benjamin Franklin

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?  John Wooden

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you; Carl Sandburg

Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life;  Michael LeBoeuf

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst;  William Penn

Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it; M. Scott Peck

I must govern the clock, not be governed by it; Golda Meir


Sonnet VII: How soon hath Time, the Subtle Thief of Youth; by John Milton

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,

Stol’n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!

My hasting days fly on with full career,

But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.

Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth

That I to manhood am arriv’d so near;

And inward ripeness doth much less appear,

That some more timely-happy spirits endu’th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still in strictest measure ev’n

To that same lot, however mean or high,

Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n:

All is, if I have grace to use it so

As ever in my great Task-Master’s eye.

Tempus Fugit

When I am old and grey, and great grandchildren come and say, what do you miss, what do you hold dear, what did you waste, and what do you fear? I will answer time.

Time is the ultimate commodity.  Once spent it can never be bought back.  So spend it wisely!

And what the flippin’ heck is “vegetable love”?  It sounds turgid, engorged, gourdlike, tumescent, pompous, even perhaps bombastic!

To His Coy Mistress:  by Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
       But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
       Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Is this worth the effort?

Not often, but sometimes, I question the value of keeping this blog.  Is it worth the effort?  What does it contribute to the sum of human endeavour?

Then I read the musings of someone higher on the hog than myself and I realise that I do have a purpose.  I may never stand upon the roof of the world, but I can show you the mountain, and maybe you can climb it.

So here is a quote from a master essayist;

Have no mean hours, but be grateful for every hour, and accept what it brings. The reality will make any sincere record respectable. No day will have been wholly misspent, if one sincere, thoughtful page has been written. Let the daily tide leave some deposit on these pages, as it leaves sand and shells on the shore. So much increase of terra firma. this may be a calendar of the ebbs and flows of the soul; and on these sheets as a beach, the waves may cast up pearls and seaweed…David Henry Thoreau

Father time

Today was the 12th day of the 12th month of the year 2012.  12/12/12.  The next time such a conjunction will occur will be 01/01/01 in the year 2101.  I doubt I will be alive.  I feel the march of time and I begin to feel old.

Roll on the next significant day – The Lord of Misrule.  December 17th is the first day of the Roman festival of Saturnalia.  It was a period of great  feasting and festivity, with a lot of drinking and eating.  Slaves would become masters for the festival, and everything was turned upside down. This tradition of turning everything on its head survives to this day.  We call it the Christmas Pantomime.

Properly played out the lead man in panto is played by a woman and the grand dame is played by a man (or men in the case of Ugly Sisters).  Pantomime usually involves the triumph of the small over the great.  Aladdin and Ali-Baba become fabulously rich and win the girl, Peter Pan defeats Hook, Cinderella marries the prince etc.  The low born servant exchanges places with the highborn lord.

Then you leave the theatre and realise it is all illusion.  A mad, chaotic dream of what might be, but never will.  Order reasserts itself and the world is set to rights.  Time marches on to the winter solstice and the turning of the year.

Time; by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Unfathomable Sea! whose waves are years,

Ocean of Time, whose waters of deep woe

Are brackish with the salt of human tears!

Thou shoreless flood, which in thy ebb and flow

Claspest the limits of mortality!

And sick of prey, yet howling on for more,

Vomitest thy wrecks on its inhospitable shore;

Treacherous in calm, and terrible in storm,

Who shall put forth on thee,

Unfathomable Sea?