by George Santayana

There may be chaos still around the world,
This little world that in my thinking lies;
For mine own bosom is the paradise
Where all my life’s fair visions are unfurled.
Within my nature’s shell I slumber curled,
Unmindful of the changing outer skies,
Where now, perchance, some new-born Eros flies,
Or some old Cronos from his throne is hurled.
I heed them not; or if the subtle night
Haunt me with deities I never saw,
I soon mine eyelid’s drowsy curtain draw
To hide their myriad faces from my sight.
They threat in vain; the whirlwind cannot awe
A happy snow-flake dancing in the flaw.

PHOTO: “Summer Snowflake” by David Forester. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: George Santayana (1863-1952) was a Spanish-born American philosopher who is regarded as one of the most important thinkers of the first half of the twentieth century. He was also a critic, dramatist, educator, essayist, novelist, and poet. Critics rank his philosophical work with that of John Dewey, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William James.   After graduating from Harvard University in 1886, he continued his education in England and Germany, spending two years at a fellowship at the University of Berlin. He returned to Harvard in 1889 to complete his Ph.D. He began teaching philosophy at Harvard in 1889, and influenced students who would go on to very successful careers, including Van Wyck Brooks, T. S. Eliot, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Frost, Walter Lippman, and Gertrude Stein. He wrote most of his published works during his twenty-three year tenure on the Harvard faculty.