To chop a stick, to catch a fly, to pile a heap of sand...

BetterWorld

New Member
Vietnamese
Hello everybody,

I was reading a short passage and encountered this sentence that I have not been able to interpret its meaning.

"To chop a stick, to catch a fly, to pile a heap of sand, is a satisfying action; for the sand stays a while in its novel arrangement, proclaiming to the surrounding level that we have made it our instrument, while the fly will never stir nor the stick grow together again in all eternity."

Source:

- The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress: Reason in Art, Volume VII, Book Four - by George Santayana

Here are my specific questions regarding the sentence:

1. What is the meaning of the word "for" after the semicolon?
2. What is the meaning of the word "level" as it is used in this sentence? I know the definition of level but I suspect it meaning is different here
3. What is the meaning of the phrase "the stick grow together"?

To provide you with more context, here are the next 2 sentences, which conclude a paragraph:

"...If the impulse that has thus left its indelible mark on things is constant in our own bosom, the world will have been permanently improved and humanized by our action. Nature cannot but be more favorable to those ideas which have once found an efficacious champion."

Honestly, I don' quite understand these sentences either.

I hope you will be able to help me answer these questions.

Thank you a lot.

BetterWorld.
 
Last edited:
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    For - since/because
    level - flat ground
    the stick will never grow together again - the stick, once it's been chopped into pieces, stays chopped up for ever.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Where did you see this, Betterworld? It looks like it was written a while ago.
    We ask you to name the source of every quotation.

    for the sand stays a while ... 'For', means 'because'. It introduces a sentence that explains the previous statement.
    the surrounding level ... [= the sand around it that is lower than the sand-pile we made.]
    nor [will] the stick grow together ... [ The stick we chopped into two pieces will not grow together again.]

    Cross-posted. :)


    Added: If you want to discuss the other sentences, please start another thread. Include the source, and tell us what this writing is about.
     

    BetterWorld

    New Member
    Vietnamese
    Where did you see this, Betterworld? It looks like it was written a while ago.
    We ask you to name the source of every quotation.

    for the sand stays a while ... 'For', means 'because'. It introduces a sentence that explains the previous statement.
    the surrounding level ... [= the sand around it that is lower than the sand-pile we made.]
    nor [will] the stick grow together ... [ The stick we chopped into two pieces will not grow together again.]

    Cross-posted. :)


    Added: If you want to discuss the other sentences, please start another thread. Include the source, and tell us what this writing is about.
    Thank you a lot Cagey for the explanation. I edited the original post and added the source.

    Yes I will post some other questions regarding this passage in another thread if I still fail to understand what it is talking about.
     
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