The Old Sluice Box — a poem from 1880

via the California Digital Newspaper Collection — “A Freely Accessible Repository of Digitized California Newspapers from 1846 to the Present” — try it out!

Daily Alta California, vol. 32, No. 10883 – San Francisco, Saturday, Jan. 31, 1880.

At the Pioneer banquet, given at Bodie [California] New Year’s evening, the following pretty poem, written by Maurice Gregory, was recited. Its sentiment will appeal to all the “Old Boys:”


Where rocks are gray and the mountains steep,
And the gulch below was dark and deep ;
Where the gnarled pines in their rugged pride
Loom gloomily up on either side ;
Where the manzanita is crooked and thick,
Where once was heard the shovel and pick ;
Where the shadows lie heavy upon the rocks,
There lies, half-buried, the old sluice box.

The idle stream through it lazily glides,
Gently washing its mouldering sides —
Sides that once were muddy and dim
From the yellow dirt that was cast within ;
While across the stream, on the gravel heaps,
The agile squirrel silently leaps ;
And the crested quail, fluttering drops
For its evening drink from the old sluice box.

Oh, many a day, with a weary hand,
Have I tossed in its bed the glittering sand ;
And dreamed, as I leaned on its rotting side,
Raking the depths of its turbid tide,
Of father’s gray hairs and dear mother’s smile,
And loved ones at home who were waiting the while
The wanderer’s return. But time sneeringly mocks
At the days that I toiled at the old sluice box.

From the moss-green rock on which I lean,
I gaze down into the sluggish stream ;
The face that I see has graver grown,
And my voice it seems has a soberer tone ;
And the wanton winds with my hair at play
Shows that my locks have all turned gray.
Still I love to think of the days gone by,
When my spirits were light, and my hopes were
I could welcome again the rough, hard knocks
To be mining once more with the old sluice box.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Survival: Gold and the Imperishable Rock

“A man never knows what tiny thing will startle him to such ancestral and impersonal tears. Piles of superb masonry will often pass like a common panorama; an on this grey and silver morning the ruined towers of the cathedral stood about me somewhat vaguely like grey clouds. But down in a hollow where the local antiquaries are making a fruitful excavation, a magnificent old ruffian with a pickaxe (whom I believe to have been St. Joseph of Arimathea) showed me a fragment of the old vaulted roof which he had found in the earth; and on the whitish grey stone there was just a faint brush of gold. There seemed a piercing and swordlike pathos, an unexpected fragrance of all forgotten or desecrated things, in the bare survival of that poor little pigment upon the imperishable rock.”

— G.K. Chesterton, Alarms and Discursions, chap. 15, “The Gold of Glastonbury,” pp. 116-117. Reprinted in: The Quotable Chesterton, the Wit and Wisdom of G.K. Chesterton, ed. Kevin Belmonte (Nashville: Thomas Nelson c2011)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Past the Screens of Words and Signs . . . are Stones

“Une des caractéristiques de la littérature contemporaine est d’être animée par le désir de dépasser les écrans de mots et de signes pour renouer avec une expérience immédiate du monde, avec l’élémentaire, dont la minéralité offre l’image la plus radicale.”

Livres de Pierre : Segalen, Caillois, Le Clézio, Gracq / by Bruno Tritsmans. Tübingen : G. Narr, c1992. p. 126.

“One of the characteristics of contemporary literature is to be animated by the desire to get beyond the screens of words and signs to reconnect with an immediate experience of the world, with the elementary, of which minerality offers the most radical picture.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gone But Not Forgotten…

Gone But Not Forgotten...

’tis a pity to lose a cherished stone…

[parallel mineral needles in chalcedony – beach stone, central california coast]

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Underground Mythology — Who, or What Were the Knockers?

A valuable article on “knockers” — better known in the United States as “tommyknockers” — the diminutive beings whom underground miners have encountered for centuries, by British researcher Sylvia P. Beamon:


Sylvia P. Beamon, M.A.

For presentation at the Symposium on Bohemian Subterranea, Praha (Prague) 22 – 28 August, 1993. Includes: Introduction; Mining Folklore; Cornish Tin Miners; Who were the ‘Knockers’ or the ‘Knackers’?; Scotland and Wales; the Continent and elsewhere; the Czech Republic (with thanks to Vašek Cílek); bibliography & references.

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

America’s First Gold Rush — a democratizing, divine subsidy

“History has overlooked America’s first gold rush perhaps because the gold produced in the Carolinas and Georgia [in the early 1800s] was not all recorded in the books at the U.S. Mint. Much of the gold was shipped to Europe and perhaps as high as twenty-five percent went into the decorative arts of the period such as jewelry making, gun smithery, picture frames, and other articles.

“A good deal of the gold was taken to the nearest bar instead of the nearest mint. Many a gold nugget stuck in a miner’s pocket and somehow was accidentally discovered by the miner after he left work. In those days when someone stepped up to the bar proclaiming the drinks were on the house, the chances were the drinks were on the mine owner!

“The value of the gold that did reach the mint is recorded at the rate of eighteen to twenty dollars an ounce, about half the current thirty-five dollars an ounce. In a land where a man was lucky to make ten dollars a week, an ounce of gold was two weeks’ pay.

“For a nation with no Fort Knox gold behind its currency, the Carolina gold rush saved the eagle and the dollar from being dependent upon foreign sources of gold. It also put into circulation gold coins, both privately and officially minted, in a land where cash of any kind was scarce. At country stores and taverns throughout the Carolinas gold dust was the poor man’s currency and many a farmer and miner picked out his supplies in country stores from Marion to Greenville while the store owner got out his scales and measured pennyweights of gold dust in payment.

“The Carolina gold rush is best described perhaps as a subsidy program instituted by divine providence to help a particularly deserving and needy section of a young nation. It was one of the most successful monetary programs ever undertaken in the United States.”

Source: The Carolina Gold Rush, by Bruce Roberts. Charlotte, N.C.: McNally & Loftin, [1971]. pp. 62-63.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“She Herself, the old Mother, gave birth to the gems from her heart”

“The world of stone is not dead: its seeds are the crystals, its flowers, the gems. They are the buds of a mysterious light life in the corridors of darkness, the colored dreams of abysses. The spirit of the flame is embodied in stone by them. They are like the tears of the stars, spilled into the dark underworld. They are the treasures and jewels of the earth and rock mother. With their prisms and grains, she has garlanded her brown neck. Transparent bolts of lightning flash around the sleeping face, in her cupped hand lie diamonds and rubies of the purest water, and the rock crystal of her signet ring shimmers rounded and pure like the ice cold drop of her mountain spring.

“She herself, the old mother, gave birth to the gems from her heart.”

— Das Kleine Buch der Edelsteine [The Little Book of Gems]. Colored pictures by Hans Lang; text by Frederick Schnack. (Insel-Bücherei Nr. 54) Leipzig: Insel Verlag, [1938? 1950?]. p. 26


“Der Steinwelt is nicht tot: ihre Keime sind die Kristalle, ihre Blumen die Edelsteine. Sie sind die Knospen eines geheimnisvollen Lichtlebens in den Fluren der Finsternis, die Farbigen Träume der Abgründe. Der Geist der Flamme ist in ihnen steinern verkörpert. Sie gleichen er Sterne, vergossen in die düstere Unterwelt. Die Schätze und Kleinodien der Erd- und Felsenmutter sind sie. Mit ihren Prismen und Körnern hat sie sich den braunen Nacken bekränzt. Gläserne Blitzen umzucken das schlafende Gesicht, in ihren Handmuscheln liegen Diamanten und Rubine reinsten Wassers, und der Bergkristall ihres Siegelrings schimmert geründet und rein wie der eiskühle Tropfen ihrer Bergquelle.

Sie selbst, die alte Mutter, hat die Edelsteine aus ihrem Herzen geboren.”

Das Kleine Buch der Edelsteine. Farbige Bilder von Hans Lang; Geleitwort von Friedrich Schnack. (Insel-Bucherei Nr. 54) Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, [1938?]. S. 26. 

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged | Leave a comment