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John Palcewski's Journal

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Appointed Rounds
forioscribe




The other morning I set out in a light drizzle on a hike up Mt. Epomeo, the island's dormant volcano. Three quarters of the way up I encountered this white plastic chair, near the entrance of Corbaro Park, a garden full of exotic plants and trees, with an adjoining outdoor cafe, for the tourists. It was closed, so I couldn't ask for an explanation of what all the magic marks were about.

Usually on a day like this I'd stay in my villa, and read, or write. But I went out into the rain because for some reason I remembered the inscription above the Corinthian columns of the entrance of the main Post Office in Manhattan:

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”


It's not the Post Office's motto, since that institution has none. The words instead are those of the Greek historian, Herodotus, who in 500 BC admired the mounted postal couriers of the Persians in the Persian Greek war.

Now, forty years ago in New York I had a best friend who was a colleague of mine at Doubleday Publishers. One time we walked by the post office. “I’m famous,” he said, and pointed up at the end of the inscription:

“…their appointed rounds.”

My friend’s name? David Rounds. He’s the author of The Four and the One: In Praise of String Quartets.






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