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The Alchemist, a Poem and Book Review.

John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded the "Best Poet 2014 and 2021" Hubby Awards.


What is Alchemy?

From the dawn of time, man has always strived to discover and invent new things. Alchemists were at the forefront of this quest and strived to create, among other things, the Philosopher's Stone. In reality, they were seeking 'the meaning of life."

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Alchemy as follows:

"a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life."

The Urban Dictionary describes it this way:

"alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself."

The Alchemist

The Alchemist, the cauldron stirred,

He mixed it all with care.

Pulling vials from off the shelves,

He rubbed his thinning hair.

Ginseng and geranium,

Selenium and zinc,

What other items should he add?

He had to stop and think.

He went out to his garden,

Collected eggs from quail,

Dug up liquorice root and thyme,

Collected willow leaves and snails.



Returning to his home-made lab

He crushed, boiled, and infused,

He mixed in hog and vulture grease,

And the fat of river eels.

There were even secret additives

That only this man knows,

To make this fine concoction

For a purpose not disclosed.

He let it set for near a week,

So the ingredients could meld.

The time had come to test the brew,

The Alchemist's new salve.


Taking a handful of the stuff

He slapped it on his head,

Then covered it in cheesecloth

Before retiring to his bed.

He repeated this routine for weeks,

Even summoned the occult.

He hoped and prayed his mixture worked,

Then checked out the result.

The Alchemist unwrapped his head,

In a looking glass he gazed.

His weary eyes sprung open,

My God! he was amazed.


A head of bushy golden hair

Sprang up to meet his eyes,

Where only baldness gleamed before,

He beamed in smug surprise.

He hadn't turned lead into gold

Or water into wine,

But hair where no hair grew before

To him, was just as fine.

A text on Persian Islamic philosophy and spiritual alchemy by Al-Ghazālī (1058–1111).

A text on Persian Islamic philosophy and spiritual alchemy by Al-Ghazālī (1058–1111).

Off the Shelf

From off my bookshelf, this time comes one of the most popular and loved books of the 20th Century, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book, and if you haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet - please do it! This book is only 177 pages long so can be easily read in one or two sittings, but despite that, I guarantee it will have an effect on you. It did on me. I have never read a more inspirational and wise tale.

Beneath this novel's compelling story and the shimmering elegance with which it's told lies a bedrock of wisdom about following one's heart.

— Booklist

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels in search of a worldly treasure. He travels from his home in Spain to Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a life-changing encounter with the Alchemist.

Here is a small excerpt from the book:

"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams."

Rarely do I come across a story with the directness and simplicity of Coelho's 'The Alchemist.' It lifts the reader out of time and focuses through a believably unlikely story of a young dreamer looking for himself. A beautiful story with a pointed message for every reader.

— Joseph Girzone, author of 'Joshua.'

The Alchemist by Paula Coelho

The Alchemist by Paula Coelho

© 2018 John Hansen

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