‘The Pot Upon the Wheel’ was written in 1919 and published in 1927 by the Patience Worth Publishing Company. It was “written for and lovingly dedicated to Mrs. Alexander B. Smith by Patience Worth.” Mrs. Smith, called “Dotsie” by Pearl Curran, was her very good friend and with whom she lived when she moved to California and to whom Pearl Curran announced in the middle of November 1937 “Oh, Dotsie, Patience has just shown me the end of the road and you will have to carry on as best you can.” Shortly after this pronouncement, Pearl Curran died of pneumonia on December 3, 1937 in a Los Angeles, California hospital. She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale California; Sunrise Slope, Lot 5778, Space 3.
The writing is not difficult to read, being somewhat close to modern English. Understanding the meaning requires some effort. Casper Yost believed that Patience Worth was presenting an allegory of life, “filled with the poetic beauty that is characteristic of her work.” Patience Worth commented that the story ‘Tis the measurin’ o’ Youth against Age.’
According to Casper Yost, Mrs. Curran “saw images of an old man [Khadjas] seated at a rude potter’s wheel the axle of which turned within a socket of clay, the wheel being moved by hand. Above it a curious water receptacle fashioned of skin was suspended from a stick which from time to time the potter touched, spilling a few drops upon the clay pot which he was molding upon the wheel. His beard was thin and pointed, and his countenance gave the impression of wisdom and kindness. Upon his head was a coarse turban and he wore nothing else but a clout. A naked child stood beside him with wondering eye, seeming to be questioning him.”
CHAPTER III (Starting on Page 14 of 107 pages)
CHILD: O Khadjas! O Khadjas! O Khadjas! Woe is me, for the men of Earth have beset me, and I in my confusion have but tried to return the stones they cast. But behold, the night found me with no wisdom and no water of the well, for my bowl is filled with stones! My throat cries out with thirst and the wisdom that was mine hath forsaken me. There is no path marked upon the streetways where wisdom hath trod for I have sought her footprints and have found but sand. The winds of the four ways have descended upon me and blinded mine eyes with the desert wastes. I see nothing but the blackness of the night, and I am weary of the searching for the water. O Khadjas, take my bowl and lend me but one sup!
KHADJAS: O child, sit beside the wheel. Clasp thy legs about the rod. Lay thy hands upon the cool clay and press thy lips against the sweating curves. The moon shall draw up from the well of night new wisdom that is cool.
CHILD: O Khadjas, my hands have ceased to throb. Mine eyes have lifted unto the skies. I see the moon rising, but my bowl is empty of the sky’s blue and the stars, and the moon’s circlet is not upon its lips . . . . Behold! Yon is a young star!
KHADJAS: Nay, child, it is the taper of thy lamp, burning.
CHILD: Seven caravans have come within the walls, O Khadjas, each man among them a noble, each camel hung in glittering array, and the packs are scented of spices, and the wisdom they bring is overpowering. They tell of far lands, of the interchanging of moneys, of the lands of other gods and kings. They have spoken that thy wisdom is but the musing of the aged. What is thy answer?
[Silence, broken but by the whirring of the wheel.]
CHILD: Is silence a rebuke, O Khadjas, or is it an acknowledgment? Seven caravans are many and the men of seven caravans are many, many. Their wisdom is not to be despised since it hath bought goods. And thine, O Khadjas, leaveth thy feet naked and thy hand scarred. What is thy answer?
KHADJAS: Seven caravans, and the wisdom of the men of seven caravans. Their packs are scented of spices and each man is a noble! Look thou, child; is not the cheek of the pot round?
CHILD: This is no answer, O Khadjas! I have come upon wisdom which I bring forth unto thee who declare thyself wise. What is thy answer?
KHADJAS: Seven drops and seven whirrs.
CHILD: Thou are jesting, O Khadjas! Made me an answer!
KHADJAS: Seven turns upon the wheel and seven tears dropped upon it. Child, behold the pot upon the wheel. O child, thy heart is the pot upon the wheel. The clay is cool. The water droppeth cunningly over it.
CHILD: O Khadjas, let me lay my hand upon it. It itcheth for contact.
KHADJAS: But the caravans are passing, child!
CHILD: Yea O Khadjas, but the clay is cool and the water drops!