To the scientist the aim of alchemy seems only to be the transmutation of base metals into gold. Though some alchemists were concerned solely with this, many were serious and dedicated thinkers who used alchemical symbols and ideas to probe religious, philosophical and psychological issues.

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Haiku is a form of poetry which is written in seventeen syllables. Each poem contains a word that refers to the season described in the haiku. The following haiku are by the three greatest haiku poets of Japan. (All translations are by R. H. Blyth)

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Marc, The Dirty Rat

Part One


“You can’t talk to anarchists, they tend to be so right they’re bothersome”

La Protesta, Buenos Aires, 1987




-What’s your name?
-Are you a cop or something like that?
-Something like that.
-And tell me, ‘something like that’, do you think that telling you my name would give me a reason to live?
-I make the questions here.
-Wow! Just like in the TV series officer.
-I’m not an officer. Tell me your name.
-Marc. For my friends: The Dirty Rat.
-Why did you attempt throwing yourself under that moving train?
-If I’d tried throwing myself under a train standing still, my case would be a lot more serious officer.
-Don’t call me officer and answer what I’m asking you. Why did you want to throw yourself under a train?
-Because… I wanted to live a new experience.
-A suicidal experience.
-Your sagacity impresses me.
-Look here, Marc, you’ve caused great havoc to the State’s train system.
-I was hopeful it’d be the last one… officer.


Translation by SM