Excerpt from The Disrobing

Kenneth Royal Murdoch
from top left clockwise: 1933, 1948,
1960, 1976


Happy the man who suffers in early life; only he knows how to enjoy old age.

Music, poetry, friendship--these three have consoled me, insofar as consolation is humanly possible.

Live like an egg--always ready to hatch.

Remember with humility and contrition that if you are human, you live by killing. A life?--only if fish, bulls, kernels of wheat and strawberries give up theirs.

Amigo casado, amigo perdido.

The person who is most deeply moved and influenced by a poem is never known to the poet. Cast your bread upon the waters.

Don't try to know famous people. They are not worth the trouble. Some of them are brilliant, of course, and creative. But those moments of their lives pass in the intimacy of their minds. You can't share them. And often they have such an overweening opinion of themselves that to meet them is to be insulted.
transp.gif You will do better to go out into the streets and hunt for friends. Among ordinary people you will find those who are congenial to your temperament, those who have wit and knowledge, sympathy, joviality, camradeliness, all the qualities that make some human beings so lovable and stimulating. Keep away from the famous. Leave them to herd together and bite each other.

Flattery--a kinder and probably juster name would be praise--is the lubricant of all human relations. Some people like it to be applied with subtlety, others in gross gobs. Take the measure of your victim before the action.

If you want to die young, overeat, overdrink, oversex, overwork. Go ahead: the world is too crowded already, nobody will miss you.

If you want to live, learn how. The advice sounds trivial, but it isn't; it involves long study of your own body and personality, your reactions to stress and stimulus, the conditions under which you fail or flourish, and the practice of restraint and a wise opportunism.

Maintain a few long-standing friendships--over a lifetime if possible. Let them be varied in character: fellow countrymen and foreigners, workmen and professionals, artists and men of affairs--rustic and urban, clever and dull. They will steady your life, give it continuity, pin it down to such permanence as the fleeting nature of human destiny allows.




Once I slept in Chapultepec Park
Under the ahuehuetes and watched a hawk
Circle above; a youth stopped by to talk
And coaxingly begged, "come with me into the dark
Side lane." He led sauntering by stones that mark
The grave of the Boy Heroes to a lonely walk
Near where the statues of Mexican poets stalk
The silence. He asked for love and his face was stark.
I quoted Cicero: "No one ever loved
An old man." He answered, "But I do."
Eyes said, "The way of the unloved is hard."
Your wife?" 1 asked. "I didn't love her, she moved
To another," and I saw that all he told was true:
He was a soldier of the presidential guard.

He was a Texan born of a Mexican mother
And a Spanish father: he had served both
North and South of the border, professional soldier
With vague citizenship, devoting his youth
To hunting a love the discipline couldn't smother:
"I have no luck" he said. “I want real cloth,
A friend, cariño.” He was a military tailor,
Proudly useful, prowled streets his ultimate worth:
I gave him five pesos to go to a movie
And pay his fare back to barracks. "I ought
Not to take it; it isn't right.” The shine
In his eyes was honest, half rose to follow me,
Then took goodbye, defeat, the always naught:
I left him with his hunger and went with mine.

ca. 1960