Write to the mind and heart, and let the ear Glean after what it can.

What did Philip James Bailey mean by:

Write to the mind and heart, and let the ear Glean after what it can.


“Write to the mind and heart, and let the ear Glean after what it can,” is a profound quote that encourages writers to focus on communicating deep, meaningful messages that engage the intellect and emotions of the reader, rather than simply creating content that sounds good. The idea is to prioritize substance over style, depth over surface appeal.

The “mind” and “heart” represent the intellectual and emotional aspects of a person. Writing to the mind implies conveying ideas, arguments, or information that stimulate thought and understanding. Writing to the heart implies evoking emotions, connecting with the reader on a personal level, and making the content relatable.

“Glean after what it can” suggests that the auditory or aesthetic appeal of the writing (how it ‘sounds’ when read aloud or in the reader’s mind) should be a secondary concern. It’s not that the ‘sound’ of the writing is unimportant, but it should not be the primary focus. The true value of the writing lies in its ability to engage the mind and heart, and any auditory appeal is a bonus that the reader can “glean” or gather afterwards.

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, this quote is especially relevant. With the constant bombardment of information and content, it’s easy to prioritize style over substance. Click-bait headlines, sensationalism, and flashy visuals often overshadow thoughtful, meaningful content. This quote reminds us to focus on creating content that truly engages the reader intellectually and emotionally, rather than simply catching their eye or ear.

In terms of personal development, this quote can be interpreted as a call to prioritize depth and substance in our own learning and communication. Rather than seeking out information that simply sounds good or is easy to digest, we should strive to engage with content that challenges our intellect and resonates with our emotions. Similarly, when communicating with others, we should aim to convey our thoughts and feelings in a way that is genuine and meaningful, rather than focusing solely on how our words might be perceived.

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