Mud Pies

To engrave. To translate. To make mud pies.

As engraving to the great art of painting, so is translation to the great art of poetry; and, like the great arts, it is itself an act of creation. And here lies its chief utility in the process of educating a scholar. Learning is in the main a passive and receptive function; but the human mind, from infancy upward, feels the impulse to create; and to indulge that impulse, however slight the value of the creation, promotes the happiness of the creator, and so enhances his powers and enlarges his capacities. The schoolboy who is put to his books, whether those books are accidence and syntax or Vergil and Homer, is further off from heaven in one regard than the child of a few years past who sat on the ground and made mud pies. To make mud pies is to follow at a distance and share in modest measure the activities of the demiurge: let the boy, as well as the child, evoke a small world of his hands and pronounce it, if he can, to be pretty good. A desire to create and a pleasure in creating are often alive and ardent in minds whose true business later is to be not creation but criticism; and even if the things created have small intrinsic merit, the intellectual stir and transport which produced them is not therefore vain, and has other results than these.
On creative impulses in the scholarly enterprise from towards the beginning of A.E. Housman's Cambridge Inaugural Lecture 1911 printed under the title "The Confines of Criticism".

And so for day 1684