|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy:
the two styles seeming to nod to each other across three centuries
upon the shaking floor.
"Soo!" he said (this being the way in which he pronounced her name).
She was not in the bed, though she had apparently been there--
the clothes on her side being flung back. Thinking she
might have forgotten some kitchen detail and gone downstairs
for a moment to see to it, he pulled off his coat and idled
quietly enough for a few minutes, when, finding she did not come,
he went out upon the landing, candle in hand, and said
"Yes!" came back to him in her voice, from the distant kitchen quarter.
Jude the Obscure
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Louis Lambert by Honore de Balzac:
formula of Heaven. Above all is God; He is the Unit.
After going in to see Louis once more, I took leave of his wife and
went home, lost in ideas so adverse to social life that, in spite of a
promise to return to Villenoix, I did not go.
The sight of Louis had had some mysteriously sinister influence over
me. I was afraid to place myself again in that heavy atmosphere, where
ecstasy was contagious. Any man would have felt, as I did, a longing
to throw himself into the infinite, just as one soldier after another
killed himself in a certain sentry box where one had committed suicide
in the camp at Boulogne. It is a known fact that Napoleon was obliged
to have the hut burned which had harbored an idea that had become a
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from A Personal Record by Joseph Conrad:
"Look out, then! Lower away!"
Almayer gathered in the rope intelligently enough, but when the
pony's hoofs touched the wharf he gave way all at once to a most
foolish optimism. Without pausing, without thinking, almost
without looking, he disengaged the hook suddenly from the sling,
and the cargo-chain, after hitting the pony's quarters, swung
back against the ship's side with a noisy, rattling slap. I
suppose I must have blinked. I know I missed something, because
the next thing I saw was Almayer lying flat on his back on the
jetty. He was alone.
Astonishment deprived me of speech long enough to give Almayer
A Personal Record
|The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from Twice Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne:
between lofty edifices, which threw almost a twilight shadow over
it. Suddenly, there was seen the figure of an ancient man, who
seemed to have emerged from among the people, and was walking by
himself along the centre of the street, to confront the armed
band. He wore the old Puritan dress, a dark cloak and a
steeplecrowned hat, in the fashion of at least fifty years
before, with a heavy sword upon his thigh, but a staff in his
hand to assist the tremulous gait of age.
When at some distance from the multitude, the old man turned
slowly round, displaying a face of antique majesty, rendered
doubly venerable by the hoary beard that descended on his breast.
Twice Told Tales