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Posts Tagged ‘Peter the Great

“A great chessplayer is not a great man, for he leaves the world as he found it”*…


A young, fatherless Barack Obama boarded a plane to Jakarta when he was just 6, but the boy who would become General Hannibal alighted from a slave ship in Constantinople in chains at the same age, having been abducted by pirates and separated (permanently) from his family and his homeland (likely modern-day Chad). A Russian spy took an interest in the exotic-looking boy belonging to the Sultan of Turkey, rescued him from a life of slavery and brought him back to Moscow as a present for Czar Peter the Great, who adopted the precocious boy as his godson…

The extraordinary story of Abram Petrovich Gannibal (or Hannibal), Afro-Russian nobleman, military engineer, and general who was raised in the Emperor’s household, and eventually rose to become a prominent member of the imperial court in the reign of Peter’s daughter Elizabeth, and was the great-grandfather of the author and poet Alexander Pushkin: “The dark star of the Enlightenment.”

* William Hazlitt, Table-Talk, Essays on Men and Manners


As we give credit where credit is due, we might recall that it was on this date in 1920 that historian, author, and journalist Carter G. Woodson founded Associated Publishers, the oldest African-American publishing company in the United States.  Six years later, Woodson– who founded both the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and The Journal of Negro History— inaugurated Black History Week (the second week in February, chosen as it contains the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass), which later grew to become Black History Month.



“His most prized possession is his library card…”

Scottish artist Frank McNab has completed a cycle of paintings– Oracles in the Community— that celebrates the libraries of Glasgow… and while they’re quite beautiful, there’s a bonus– a puzzle painted into the works, turning on William Blake’s “The Song of the Libraries.”

Travellers repose and dream among my leaves.
Magical libraries give you the whole world and take you even further. The only limits are yours.
The same number as the Pleiades can be found in these imaginings And together they form a word.
This is the tail which must be added to the comet far below before it is sent through the firmament and is put to the oracle.

There is a meaning in the books which are read in the dance with wisdom.
“With it or on it” the women used to say. On it.
At the pillars the ancient symbol of knowledge is his own start.
Far distant on the gates of fire he is small and his case is low.
Above the torch it lies in Arcadia.
Left of aspiration the weeds provide it.
And the sun paints its own initial on the tree of paradise lost.

Now you must attach this to what is under the veil and go to where your imagination camps next…

As we search for hidden vowels, we might recall that it was on this date in 1698 that, in an effort to move his people away from Asiatic customs, Tsar Peter I of Russia (Peter the Great) imposed a tax on beards. All men were required to pay a tax of one hundred rubles a year except for peasants, who had to pay one kopek each, and priests, who were exempt from the levy.

Peter on his deathbed, still beardless

Peter on his deathbed, still beardless

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And lest one forget, today is International Bacon Day!
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