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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 The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley:

than a reasonable skull of a reasonable or unreasonable beast; and so forth, and so forth; and though the beast (which I assure you I have seen and shot) is first cousin to the little hairy coney of Scripture, second cousin to a pig, and (I suspect) thirteenth or fourteenth cousin to a rabbit, yet he is the wisest of all beasts, and can do everything save read, write, and cast accounts." People would surely have said, "Nonsense; your elephant is contrary to nature;" and have thought you were telling stories - as the French thought of Le Vaillant when he came back to Paris and said that he had shot a giraffe; and as the king of the Cannibal Islands thought of the English sailor, when he said that in his country water

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Niblung's Ring by George Bernard Shaw:

until he disappears. The curtain falls; but we can still hear the trolling of his horn, and the merry clatter of his horse's shoes trotting gaily down the valley. The sound is lost in the grander rhythm of the Rhine as he reaches its banks. We hear again an echo of the lament of the Rhine maidens for the ravished gold; and then, finally, a new strain, which does not surge like the mighty flood of the river, but has an unmistakable tramp of hardy men and a strong land flavor about it. And on this the opera curtain at last goes up--for please remember that all that has gone before is only the overture.

The First Act

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Man against the Sky by Edwin Arlington Robinson:

And how much was alive and out of place,

And out of reach. He knew as well as I That all the words of wise men who are skilled In using them are not much to defy What comes when memory meets the unfulfilled.

What evil and infirm perversity Had been at work with him to bring him back? Never among the ghosts, assuredly, Would he originate a new attack;

Never among the ghosts, or anywhere, Till what was dead of him was put away,

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 All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare:

DIANA. No: My mother did but duty; such, my lord, As you owe to your wife.

BERTRAM. No more of that! I pr'ythee, do not strive against my vows: I was compell'd to her; but I love thee By love's own sweet constraint, and will for ever Do thee all rights of service.