Health Update

Ursula K. Le Guin, photo by Marian Wood KolischDear Readers:

I’m sorry about not keeping up my blog posts, but everything got interrupted for me this summer when my congenital heart murmur (leaky valve) finally began to exact its toll. I spent a few days in hospital, have been home now for three weeks. Doing fine but not doing very much — and that looks to be the way it will be for a while.

Pard is a great help in not getting anything done except lying around more or less ornamentally. I am learning this art from a true master.

So I won’t try to keep blogging, though I miss it, and hope maybe I can post something now and then. Even if it’s just silly poems. Like these.


I tried to write a distich
but it turned antagonistic
and tried to rhyme with biscuit
and I don’t know how to fix it.

So I try to write a tercet
such a pretty little verset
but no matter how I nurse it
it’s another quatrain, curse it!

Simile’s Story

As I was walking by the sea
I met a Phor that said to me,
“O will you be my Simile?”

I said: “Although it pains me sore,
And probably will pain you more,
I’m not, and do not, like you, Phor.”

So I went on by the sea-side
And met a Morphosis, who cried,
“O Simile, come be my bride!”

I sighed: “Whatever change you bring,
I’ll wear your transubstantial ring,
For I love you like anything!”

So, in alternate woe and bliss,
Sometimes like that, sometimes like this,
I live as Mrs. Morphosis.

Pard’s Apparel

He wears a striking suit of black:
Long sleeves in front – short pants in back.
White is his tie, and white his shirt,
Immaculate of stain or dirt.
On his white stockings, from the rear,
Two ornamental spots appear,
Serving to lessen the albedo
Of his unusual tuxedo.

My Spots

On his white stockings, from the rear,
Two ornamental spots appear,



Health Update — 72 Comments

  1. I hope you have whatever you love– tea or strawberry cake? A favorite quilt or chair? Or end of the season tomatoes,with fresh bread and some lascivious cheese. Yes indeed. I wish you all of that and more. I hope Pard is good company– he sounds like a skilled and excellent teacher of Rest. I imagine that he will bring a kind of patience to these teachings that he doesn’t have when you are on the machine. Maybe in your time of Resting together he will narrate another chapter of the Annals of Pard. Maybe you will learn what he Dreams, one of great untold secrets of cats. Can you rest outside? With the fall migrations in progress you may have lots of interesting visitors. And I hope you have plenty to read, books that set your heart aglow. I send you my best good wishes.

  2. I’m sorry to hear you’re not well, and I hope you will rest up and get better soon. All my best wishes. And thank you for the poems!

  3. Those poems brought smiles to my face. Thank you!

    I got your list of books to read, from that Kickstarter. Some of them I’ve read already, and others are going on my to-read list. Thank you for those as well.

    I wish you all the best, and hope that you’ll get better, and that your are comfortable!

  4. Beautiful Ursula,
    Hope your resting is full of happy and contented and interesting thoughts. And, if you want them there, beloved people to talk with.
    You have given so much — books! whole worlds! — it’s funny to pay $5 or $10 for a book and get a universe in return — and I understand you can’t receive presents from a bunch of fans but still, thank you.

  5. Rest is truly the hardest form of productivity to learn! Yet, quite pleasurable in surrender. I’m glad you have the best of company. =^_^= My writing has accelerated thanks to your advice to follow the new shiny idea, the old one will still be there later!

  6. Confession:

    I’m new to reading Ms LeGuin,
    (To some long followers, a real sin)
    Regardless, I am now a fan,
    “Get rest. Feel better, thou Queen of Pen”!

    …so glad to finally have gotten on board…there is so much to learn from her words

    In gratitude,
    Heidi Patullo

  7. No need to apologize for taking a rest! We’re all very glad you’re home and doing fine.

    P.S. I had the good fortune to be around when a friend of mine discovered your writing – (via Left Hand of Darkness) for the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this excited about a book – he rarely says much about what he reads, but this time he grinned and gushed about the rich anthropology. I recommended The Telling to him. I think you’ve made yet another lifelong fan!

  8. we are reading /the dispossessed/ for mythgard academy’s next free seminar. it’s engrossing and grand. thank you for writing it. the tolkien professor, corey olsen, will be discussing it with us over the course of the course. 🙂 looking forward to it!

  9. thank you for the fun poems, and I do hope the enforced rest is a peaceful and gentle one and not a fretting because of wanting to do more one.

  10. Wishing you rest and healing with the Healer Cat (warm at the ankles, warm behind the knees, warm at the shoulder and hand), health and the strength for joy.

  11. Your writing about Pard reminds me of this:

    “The otter sat up on its haunches and looked at him. Its eyes were dark, shot with gold, intelligent, curious, innocent. ‘Ammar,’ Shevek whispered, caught by that gaze across the gulf of being – ‘brother.’”

    Be well.

  12. These are utterly delightful silly poems, however!

    I’m deeply sorry to hear about your health problems, though I’m glad you’re doing better. Take all the rest you need, and I hope it’s restorative! Cats are indeed marvelous examples in this.

  13. I hope you feel better soon. I’ve loved your books since I read the Dispossessed in university. I still love reading your blog. I think you are a national treasure. So all the best.

  14. My favorite translation of the Tao (which I discovered, through this translation, in my early 20s – a whole decade after you had become my favorite writer as a child) is the Lombardo/Aldiss one. Here is one of my favorite chapters from that translation (ch. 8):

    Best to be like water, Which benefits the ten thousand things And does not contend. It pools where humans disdain to dwell, Close to the Tao.
    Live in a good place. Keep your mind deep. Treat others well. Stand by your word.
    Make fair rules. Do the right thing. Work when it’s time.
    Only do not contend, And you will not go wrong.


    Thus, it seems that lying around ornamentally is in accord with the Way (to the extent that the Way can be followed, anyway).

    Best wishes for a good rest and improved health, Mrs. Le Guin.

  15. Sending all best wishes for a swift and comfortable recovery with your cat companion. My world is a better place for knowing that you are in it. Thank you for the witty poems

  16. I sit here at 4 AM in the morning in my bed in Vientiane, Laos, and have just finished “Rocannon’s World” for the second time (after a long time).

    I read a large part of it today on the plane from Phnom Penh coming here again and all the time I put down the book I was overflowing with ideas and images and words and phrases and desperately wanted take up my pen and write, write, write. I have never published anything professionally, nor have I written anything in a long time. Plan to, sure, done so, no.
    But reading your work is so inspiring, not just in sparking the ambition to also pursue writing, but in thinking about things. And by things I mean thinking about people, about relationships, about who and what we are in the time and place we are.

    I love your work. I think you are a gift to humankind and make the lives of everyone reading any of your writing better.

    I am tired, I am sad for Rocannon who never learned that a world was named after him, for Mogien and Raho, but I had to get all of this out of my system. How blessed to live at the time when you do? How mad would I be at myself if I didn’t tell you how much your writing means to me when I had the chance?
    It means the world to me – and gives me hope.

    I send you the best of wishes and envy you for mastering the art of lying around decoratively.
    Lots of love <3

  17. Your stories rank among the fondest memories of my youth. I hope you get will soon. Take rest <3

  18. Dear Ursula,

    thank you for the update! Your stories have been with me my whole life – hope that a little of your fans comments is with you this way! Feel better!

  19. I wanted you to know that one of our small borrowers (writing from a junior school library in Johannesburg, South Africa) has just fallen in love with the ‘Catwings’ series. I replaced ours with lovely new copies and she says, “That’s why I gave up Lego Star Wars. She’s such a great storyteller. I just love them.” Great stories go on and on. Her picture is on my Instagram page @greatbooksgreatkids. Hamba kahle, which is Go well in Zulu. Julia Heaney

  20. Ursula, wishing you well! Pard knows how laziness is good for the heart and soul.

    love you, take care.

  21. Mrs LeGuin, I hope you get well soon. I sent you a letter from Istanbul, Turkey, and it’s a personal thank from me to you for curing me of my fear of death, holding my hand and deepening my mind and soul. As another commentor stated above, how lucky we are all to live on the same time with you!

    Lots of love!

    I??k karanl???n sol elidir
    Karanl?k da ?????n sa? eli.
    ?kisi birdir, ya?am ve ölüm, yan yana
    Yatarlar kemmerdeki sevgililer gibi,
    Tutu?mu? eller gibi,
    Sonuçla yol gibi

  22. Dear Mrs. Le Guin,
    Thank you for your incredible writing! It lives inside and gives me hope.
    Please be well soon!

  23. I hope you get better, take it easy (as much as one would like to keep up with the heart’s desires, now your heart also requires you to slow it down a notch).

    Greetings from a Mexican reader.

  24. Dear Mrs Le Guin, it’s terrifying to learn such news, I do hope you feel better now! I wish you strength and good health from the bottom of my heart!
    I am reading your essays from the Language of the Night and try translating them into Russian, it’s the most fascinating book I’ve had in a long while! They are just brilliant! Thank you for sharing all those thoughts with us. They’re inspiring!
    I agree that you are a national treasure – only I think it’s better to say a global one.
    All the best wishes from a fan from Belarus!

  25. The kindness of these messages is wonderful. I wish I could thank you each. I can only thank you all — with all my heart.
    Health update: My daily bouquet of medicines with weird names is definitely doing its job. Am quite recovered from the bad time, and get along fine if I don’t push it. My model of behavior is the Sloth. Can’t hang from branches yet, but am real good at moving slo o o w w l y . . .
    Best wishes to all my well-wishers,

    • Thrilled that your recovery continues apace (slothily). Happy belated birthday! Love all your books but think that the underrated Voices is the best.

      • my feelings exactly! I have all the books, some in tattered old paperbacks and I love them deeply – but I also think ‘Voices’ might be my favourite!

    • Dear Ms. LeGuin,

      Please stay well. Your voice of sanity and humanity is desperately needed in a time when both seem to be in short supply.

      Richard York
      (fellow rain city resident)

    • I’m a good ol’ boy from South Carolina. As a benighted teen, I read The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness; they put me on an unanticipated path, one that has enriched not only my life but also those that are most close to me.

      Down the road, I became a stay-at-home dad that raised two strong, intelligent daughters. Together, during family story-time, we read Catwings and (most of) the Earthsea series. Now, on their own, they read the rest of your canon. You have informed our family. Thank you.

    • It’s great to read that you are better, really great news 🙂 These days, any good thing is very welcome and even necessary.
      (English is not my first language, so I’m a little insecure about my grammar, apologies.)
      I just turn 42 and some friends gave me The Other Wind, finally! I got it! It makes me so happy.
      Anyway, all the best to you, with all my heart,

  26. I’d like to give you something in return of all the worlds and characters you have given me. Once I read one, they stay forever inside. I can only say thank you. Best wishes!!

  27. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 10/23/16 Earth Scrolls Are Easy | File 770

  28. Dear Ursula,

    I wish you a prompt recovery from Argentina. I have read much of your work, which has inspired me to develop a scientific career. You may wonder why science not writing fiction is my profesional activity. Me too. The freedom and poetry in your work has connected me with an unquenchable curiosity about all ordinary life. Your work connected me with scientists like Ervin Shcrödinger, in What Is Life more than do novelists.
    These days I’m working on a lecture to talk with general public about scientific findings to explain regenerative phenomena in the body and I find it inevitable to think of your characters.
    I wonder if you knew the mechanisms that salamanders and crabs use to regenerate their limbs, or how some animals transmute their sex.
    Your poem Simile’s Story is a wonderful reminder that one can pursue one’s passion all one’s life.

    Worm regards

  29. This might be somewhat later than I would have liked, but better late than never:

    I sincerely wish you a swift recovery, Mrs. Le Guin. Get well soon. All the best !

    In the meantime, have fun writing these little poems and give my regards to your kitty. Pard seems to be looking after you very dilligently. 🙂 Great cat.

  30. It is such a joyous thing to hear you are recovered – you have been much in my thoughts (and your words in one [Youtube] ear when work was routine).
    All best wishes and contining strength from gwlad draig (land of dragons) Wales

  31. Dear Mrs. Le Guin,

    How happy I am to have found you, and how sorry I am to learn that your health hasn’t been the best. It’s hard to relax under such circumstances, for sure, but it’s good to hear that you are recovering and mastering the art of slowing down.

    So, I have a little story to share about a heart, only in a much different context. You, my dear, stole the heart of my 4.5-year-old son. You are the first author to have done so. He has always been a verbal boy–advanced very early on in language, so I started looking around for his first chapter books this past summer, and came across Catwings. Marvelous, wonderful Catwings. And my Billy, he fell in love right away. He has incorporated your Catwings into his stories, and I hear tales of Mrs. Jane Tabby every day, but mostly, adventures involving little Jane riding around in her camouflaged golf cart–driving here and there, and often going to the home improvement store to check out generators, or the grocery store to score some tuna to share with the other Catwings. He has a tiny stuffed kitten that is Jane. (He is also Jane.) Jane cruises around in a fishing boat in our bath tub, rides around a little four-wheeler, travels to the library . . . she goes everywhere with him and does it all. When it was time for his first show-and-tell at nursery school last month, he was so excited, because it was his big chance to tell all of the other little kids about his beloved Jane; he took “Catwings Return” and told the story of Jane.

    I wish I could attach a picture, because we recently went to Zoo Boo, and I have many precious pictures of my little boy–happily dressed up as a black kitten complete with wings! Oh, how he enjoyed himself running around chanting, “Me, Me, Me!” and proudly telling anyone who would give him his/her gaze that he was Jane, a Catwing!

    Thank you so much for your wonderful work! And all of the best in your continuing recovery,


  32. Dear Mrs Le Guin:
    I am so happy to hear that you are up and more or less about. Pard looks like my Jake’s twin and just as helpful.

    I have loved your books since I read “A Wizard of Earthsea” when it first appeared and have read most of your books and now am rereading “The Left Hand of Darkness”. I’d like to send it to our Governor and his House and Senate bigots who are so hung up over Transgenders attacking people in public bathrooms. Yes it’s N.C. and their infamous HB2 law. But they’d probably see the book as porn! I used to teach American Lit and often assigned “Those Who Walk Away From Omelas” which usually stimulated worthwhile discussions. And I used to push “The Lathe of Heaven” on my friends. BTW, I’d always thought the Earthsea series was a trilogy and “The Farthest Shore” was the last. I was stunned to read in New Yorker that it was 6 part series. More books on my unread table!

    I so hope you return to full bore. I’ve had the same condition as you since I was a child and, so far (83 yrs.) it’s never been a problem.

    All good wishes (I too hate the word legendary since it’s applied to things like tea or catfood. For you I think “far seeing” is more applicable.)