Category Archives: memories

Nelson Mandela; Great Beings; The Rights of Woman


Jim Drougas and I exchanged chat messages tonight. He said that “The Onion” had said that never in the history of the world had mourning for a politician affected so many people in so many parts of the world (If I understood him correctly). I said that I thought that John F. Kennedy’s mourning, 50 years ago, had been pretty substantial. I hope that Jim understood that I didn’t mean that I thought that JFK and Mandela were exactly the same sort of person, only that Kennedy was mourned and missed and sorrowed for in a way that spread over the world and affected everyone then living. It was a great shock to all to have an American  president assassinated.

I think JFK would have been a very interesting president, and probably a great one, had he been fortunate enough to live as long as Mr. Mandela. But I was not saying that the 2 men had achieved the same thing or that they were equal in their ability to understand the human condition or to affect those around them.

Nelson Mandela’s was the more remarkable achievement, in that after going into a terrible, hardworking, Alcatatraz-like jail for 27 years, he emerged in a beautiful dignity, and clothed in the wish for nonviolence and a wish for peace and reconciliation for S. Africa. Who has done anything like him in terms of saying “Throw your knives and guns into the ocean”  when he saw that young Blacks were rising up in fury and violence that he himself would perhaps have espoused if he had been the man he was when going into prison so many years before? I heard one person on National Pub. Radio saying that Mandela had made a sensible and thoughtful decision, on coming out of jail, to embrace nonviolence, in a world that had changed immensely since he had gone in. I think that he himself had also seen enough suffering, enough pain and enough death and had come to decide that, as in Southern North America in the Civil Rights years, nonviolence was the only way to finally end the struggle, win over the minority of whites who still held so much power. But then, when he had won, when he was in place, when he became President of S. Africa, he very sanely and sensibly gave all the South Africans, Black and White, a way out. He asked them to confess and to forgive one another. When in the history of the world has this been done before? No one has done it. If MLK (Dr.King) had lived, if it had been possible in those racist days here in the US, for him to become President (he could not have), possibly he would have thought of such an act– a further development of Gandhi’s Satyagraha. But it was for Mandela and his government to create a way to make peace in their nation. It is difficult to imagine America being able to do such a thing– to confess crimes in exchange for being forgiven. Here, no doubt, someone would blow the head off of anyone who confessed to having raped a daughter, killed a father, tortured a brother.

But in any case, it worked in South Africa. It is not perfect there and they still have many problems, I am sure — but who doesn’t?
I will very profoundly miss the greatness of having a Bodhisattva like Mandela in the world. We have been lucky in my (The Baby Boomer) generation. We have had many wonderful scientific advances and we have lived among true Buddhas, many of whom, as my father, Irving, used to say, did not even realize they were Buddhas.

Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his many helpers; Rosa Parks, Robert Kennedy (if he had lived, I hope he would have kept his promise to get out of Vietnam); John Kennedy if he had lived and developed to be all he could be; Gandhi died only a few years before I was born; The Dalai Lama… and many women who are just now beginning to be known in their own struggle for women’s rights and safety all over the world; their work for women and girls to be able to go to school, and their right to dress as they wish, drive a car,and NOT have their genitals ripped out without anesthesia (or at all). I am against all circumcision unless an adult chooses it for themselves, but “female circumcision” as practiced in many Muslim societies, even here and in CAnada, is one of the most horrific and brutal tortures ever invented. And the only crime those who receive this terrible punishment have committed is to be born female, and to have sexual desire…

I have defended (on Twitter, notably) Muslims and their right to live peaceably without being harassed for what extremists in their society have done. Female genital mutilation has nothing to do with Muslim belief or with the teachings of the Koran, I understand. And so it is not that I am changing my mind about the right of those who believe in Allah to live as they believe, but all people, women, have the right to live with their bodies whole and unharmed and their psyches unravaged by having their own mothers, aunts or grandmothers arrange to have them cut in horrific ways meant to make them “pure.” I beg women in these societies to use their influence, if any, with the men who command the situation to forego having their daughters mutilated, and please, send them to school (if they wish to go), so they can become a part of the world on their own terms one day.

This has nothing to do with poetry and fiction, and other kinds of artistic expression, but perhaps one may consider it a kind of essay. Here it is at QH’s “arts” page, anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Ladybelle Fiske



By Dillard K. Henderson, QH’s Poet Laureate

Sonnet Number Fifty
All in one flowing moment free from time,
I sat upon a mighty mountainside
Beneath great metal booming wind-blown chimes
Above Zen terraced gardens with my guide.
I saw below, beyond the knoll and stream, 
Another mountain breath and undulate.
Awaking slowly from delusion’s dream,
I entered then a much more mindful state.
Then beauty’s beings, radiant as suns,
Each sang her sacred spirit song to me.
The spirit world and this one too were one.
The moon arose, and I began to see.
I heard all music, then, in but one chime
And knew forever, then, in Earthly time.

Elegy for Prospero


Written in about May, 1990, after my father died on April 25, 1990.

I speak here as Miranda, returning to “the magic isle” to see the place once more, and to seek for the magic her father renounced, hoping to find in it a sign of him.

Elegy for Prospero 
The landscape is without its central figure:
No gleam of silver hair
Nor laughter in the grove.  Gone is the wizard.
Singing birds move among the trees,
The sun is hot and rich, but he is gone.
I land my yellow boat upon the shore
And pull it in. Fish splash in reed and lily cluster
Round my bare feet in clear, still water.
Climbing the sandy path, I brush
An ancient, silvered stump which long ago
Served me for castle. Acorn kings dwelt there:
They, too, have gone.
This lush and tropic afternoon
A thousand-memoried scent
Emits from tiny budding figs
That he’ll no longer taste.
The ivy vine he raised around his window
Curls: abundant, and untroubled by his death.
Prospero, you are gone. Your absence
Permeates all. This red clay road, the stars,
The water– filled with your presence,
Filled with your absence.
Forlorn now the owl’s cry:
´There was lived here so vast, so powerful a life
That they who journeyed to our strange abode
Lingered, enchanted and amazed.
Yea, in this magic place,
A thousand spells were cast, a thousand dramas played,
Here miracles were wrought,
Here human and spirit did cavort,
But our revels now are ended.’
Unto this mysterious island I now return in wonder:
Into the silence, into the singing of birds
I inquire. The sky is deepening, empty.
Prospero, whence does that magic go
When the conjurer has renounced it?
Has it gone hence with he
Who stirred the storms?
Pine forest and memory answer:
“It yet awaits. It is in you.”
The whippoorwill begins its evening incantation.
–Isabella Fiske McFarlin


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More Poems by Dillard K. Henderson, QH’s Poet Laureate


Poems about Quarry Hill by our amazing Poet Laureate (since the 60s)

Q H Poems


Sonnet # 40


Quarry Hill


For twenty years, I never understood

What made this place survive, expand and grow?

And made it be so peaceful and so good,

But now, at last, I think, perhaps, I know.

It contradicts itself in every way;

Its anarchy is quite well organized;

Its rules, which don’t exist, they all obey;

Beliefs, which some deny, some have surmised.

Its unity is its diversity,

For in each stage each one’s evolving through,

Each individual is free to be

Herself until he learns and grows anew,

But most importantly, I’ve learned to see

Its spirit I can spread and keep in me.


Dillard K. Henderson

Quarry Hill, VT

July 12, 1987


Ladybelle, the Belle of the Ball


No gild nor gold improves a maple leaf;

No paint nor pigment matches nature’s hues.


Just there she lies upon the mountain side,

  Reclining on a couch of softest leaves.

Her inner beauty is her ballroom gown.

A scarlet maple leaf will be her fan.


Her orchestra is whispered winds and birds and bubbling brooks.

Her ball room is the forest and the meadows all around.

She dances there with nature in the waltz of rhythmic life,

Enjoying and well knowing all the freedom of the void.


She was a seed grown free to bloom and blossom as she chose;

She is a wildwood flower now of nature’s own free ways. 


Dillard K. Henderson

Quarry Hill, VT

September 17, 1976


From the Lower Woods


At dawn, the fog enshrouded mountain tops,

But now, they are a rainbow in the fall,

All garlanded by gold and growing green

And burning orange, flaming leaves,

Surrounded by soft misty purple haze,

A simple symphony of sight that’s set  

To murmured music of a lazy wend,

Which whispers through the trees, and splashing streams,

All tumbling down majestic mountain sides.


Dillard K. Henderson

Quarry Hill, VT




After the Rain


The rain has stopped for now

But still the clouds are gray,

And still the water drips

Straight down from each birch leaf

To patter on the roof.

The maple trunks are dark;

The grass is shiny green.

Some ferns are beaten down,

But from this summer rain

Far many more will spring.

Now through the upper leaves,

Among the fleeting clouds

I see the sun return

To warm and dry this world. 


Dillard K. Henderson

Quarry Hill, VT

September 17, 2976



Sunset from the Knoll


The path slopes slowly down into the dark green trees,

All rising jagged, high in silhouette.

Behind them, darkening mountains arise.

Behind them, higher, lighter mountains rise.

Beyond, above, around them all, the sky,

Is blue until the sun shines red and sinks

Behind the highest and most distant peaks.


Dillard K. Henderson

Quarry hill, VT

September 17, 1976



While Hanging Out at Quarry Hill


I sat upon a rock and watched the wind,

Then ate some luscious leaves and roots and fruits.

I talked to three raccoons outside their home –

A swinging woodland threesome, I suppose –

Beneath somebody else’s home above.

I watched knights fight with flashing silver swords

And took a trip to ancient China too.


Dillard K. Henderson

Quarry Hill, VT

September 17, 1976



High on Quarry Hill


All free to travel anywhere I wish

While on a journey, as I’ve often done,

I sat upon the bench upon the knoll

And wore the four white pine trees as my hat.

My sister Moon was full and shed her light

On silhouetted mountain tops and sides.

It shimmered on the meadows, houses, paths

And silver boulders half around the knoll.

With legs stretched out and feet upon the ground,

I watched bright squares of golden light ignite

In all creative houses which I saw.

Alone, I gazed on beauty undisturbed

   And felt my spirit fill with perfect peace,

For all that is is perfect as it is.


Dillard K. Henderson

Morganton, NC

November 28, 1991



Silently Smilingly Sitting


(To Irving)


Well Bodhidhar wasn’t Buddha yet

In any of his older lives, but then

Upon his last rebirth, he quickly met

The ultimate reality of Zen

And nothingness and all. He therefore knew

All sermons preached could be but one small clew –

One atom of one grain of truth to you

And all – and opposites would be as true.

He ceased to speak and sat in silent peace

And never spoke again, so hear the boom

Of Buddha’s voice, now free to never cease  

 To penetrate imaginary gloom.

He looked upon illusionary life

Of mindless struggles fought by day and night

For nothing real and only death and strife.

They are so blinded that they see no light.

He knew that there was nothing left to do,

So that is what he did in pure release,

And that’s nirvana for all of us too –

Smilingly, silently sitting in peace.


Dillard K. Henderson

Morganton, NC

May 16, 1987



Monuments to Irving


Yes Irving left his poetry and his plays,

All great and lasting monuments indeed,

But Irving left us greater gifts than these

Which will long serve as monuments to him.

One greater gift he gave was Quarry Hill.

It’s not Shambhala yet, not paradise,

Here in the mountain meadows of Vermont,

But Quarry Hill’s still close enough for me.

Though strange and weird to some, I’m free to be

Just what I need to be in Quarry Hill.

He never tried to make men fit one mold.

The children grew in natural beauty here,

All free to be themselves all free from fear.

This is a place of open skies and minds.

 I could then say, as it was said of Wren,

“If you seek his monuments, look about you.”,

But Irving earned a greater tribute still.

He played away his life in love and joy

And taught each one who heard to play the same.

He really was a guru real and true

Who never taught his truths to anyone;

He taught us all to find the truth within.

So on this celebration day, I say,

“If you seek his monuments, look inside

“Yourself and deep within your children too.”.


Dillard K. Henderson

Morganton, NC