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Today's Stichomancy for Italo Calvino

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Heart of the West by O. Henry:

chilled the noonday.

As for Tonia, though she sends description to the poorhouse, let her make a millionaire of your fancy. Her blue-black hair, smoothly divided in the middle and bound close to her head, and her large eyes full of the Latin melancholy, gave her the Madonna touch. Her motions and air spoke of the concealed fire and the desire to charm that she had inherited from the /gitanas/ of the Basque province. As for the humming-bird part of her, that dwelt in her heart; you could not perceive it unless her bright red skirt and dark blue blouse gave you a symbolic hint of the vagarious bird.

The newly lighted sun-god asked for a drink of water. Tonia brought it

Heart of the West
The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Tom Grogan by F. Hopkinson Smith:

in and out, except with his eyes.

When Cully handed him the scarf, Carl had already dressed himself in his best clothes, producing so marked a change in the outward appearance of the young Swede that Cully in his admiration pronounced him "out o' sight."

Cully's metamorphosis was even more complete than Carl's. Now that the warm spring days were approaching, Mr. Finnegan had decided that his superabundant locks were unseasonable, and had therefore had his hair cropped close to his scalp, showing here and there a white scar, the record of some former scrimmage. Reaching to the edge of each ear was a collar as stiff as

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum:

was evident that their wheels would not roll upon the rough and jagged rocks, and therefore they were helpless to follow Dorothy and the hen to where they had taken refuge. But they circled all around the little hill, so the child and Billina were fast prisoners and could not come down without being captured.

Then the creatures shook their front wheels at Dorothy in a threatening manner, and it seemed they were able to speak as well as to make their dreadful outcries, for several of them shouted:

"We'll get you in time, never fear! And when we do get you, we'll tear you into little bits!"

"Why are you so cruel to me?" asked Dorothy. "I'm a stranger in your

Ozma of Oz
The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from Rivers to the Sea by Sara Teasdale:

That the wild hunter in the hills must leave With thirst unslaked in the brief southward sun."


Ah Dica, it is not for thee I go; And not for Phaon, tho' his ship lifts sail Here in the windless harbor for the south. Oh, darkling deities that guard the Nile, Watch over one whose gods are far away. Egypt, be kind to him, his eyes are deep-- Yet they are wrong who say it was for him. How should they know that Sappho lived and died