Take it easy, but take it.
I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.
All the lonely ship-lights in the bay showed where the patient hulls were berthed and anchored, where the loomed in enfolding shadows like kneeling nuns of the sea. (The Town and the City)
What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain til you see their speck dispersing?–it’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy adventure beneath the skies. (On The Road)
I bequeath thee this wreath of unsprung tears.
I like too many things and get all confused and hung up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. (On the Road)
Jadis! Jadis! Jadis, on etait ensemble, non? Ensemble! Ce grand môt d?amour?
[A long time, a very long, long time ago, we were together, right? Together! This great name for love?]
in a letter to friend Sebastian Sampas
The stars were the same then as they are tonight. (The Dharma Bums)
My witness is the empty sky.
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars… (On the Road)
Death steals everything except our stories.
Sitting on the hill he felt young and stupid. And then sad that he had not until this afternoon found out that on very rare occasions life will offer up something as full and wonderful as anything the imagination can muster. (Farmer)
[We are smoke.] (Look Homeward, Angel)
David James Duncan
The man o the rock had pitched five outs in the losing game, and had given up two runs on a single. But he’d inherited loaded bases. The story of his life. The story of all our lives. (The Brothers K)
I scarcely recognized myself: the fanatical fisherman in me had died, and what remained was a stranger. I was someone I barely knew lying on my side, watching a star. (The River Why)
The air, though heavy, has a fathomlessness to it, as if the usual atmospheric barriers between city and sky had dissolved; the wastes of space seemed to be reaching, undiluted, all the way down to the asphalt and lawns. (River Teeth)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry.
Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for.
Sir Arthur Eddington
Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.
Fingers more breathless than a tongue laid
upon the lips in the hour of sunlight;
before the mist rolls in from the sea,
and out there everything is turbulent
It is only through the confining act of writing that the immensity of the nonwritten becomes legible. (If on a winter’s night a traveler)
There are days when everything I see seems to me charged with meaning: messages it would be difficult for me to communicate to others, define, translate into words, but which for this very reason appear to me decisive. (If on a winter’s night a traveler)
Love is the longing for the half of ourselves that we have lost.
The truth is that only gold ore can be turned into gold; only poetry into poems. (The White Goddess)
Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.
Jeff Tweedy (Wilco)
When I forget how to talk, I sing. (“She’s a Jar”)
The future has a valley and a shortcut around. (“Spiders (Kidsmoke)”)
What would we be without wishful thinking? (“Wishful Thinking”)
You define yourself by the people you love and that’s enough.
You were right about the stars;
Each one is a setting sun.
Jeff Magnum (Neutral Milk Hotel)
I will spit until I learn how to speak. (“King of Carrot Flowers”)
Cecil Day Lewis
To lift, to fetch, to drive, to shed, to pen,
Are acts I recognize, with all they mean
Of shepherding the unruly, for a kind of
Controlled woolgathering is my work too.
Men like women who write. Even though they don’t say so. A writer is a foreign country.
Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.
Poetry is, above all, a singing art of natural and magical connection because, though it is born out of one’s person’s solitude, it has the ability to reach out and touch in a humane and warmly illuminating way the solitude, even the loneliness, of others. That is why, to me, poetry is one of the most vital treasures that humanity possesses; it is a bridge between separated souls.
Remember how long you’ve been putting this off, how many extensions the gods gave you, and you didn’t use them. At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned to you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return. (Meditations)
It loved to happen. (Meditations (via Franny and Zooey))
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, one finds it attached to the rest of the world.
In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jungle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June. (Mrs. Dalloway)
I wish then after this somnolence to sparkle, many-faceted under the light of my friends’ faces. I have been traversing the sunless territory of non-identity. A strange land. I have heard in my moment of appeasement, in my moment of obliterating satisfaction, the sigh, as it goes in, comes out, of the tide that draws beyond this circle of bright light, this drumming of innate fury. (The Waves)
But words have been used too often; touched and turned, and left exposed to the dust of the street. The words we seek hang close to the tree. We come at dawn and find them sweet beneath the leaf. (Jacob’s Room)
Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day. (Night and Day)
About her seemed to hang the mist of the winter hedges, and the clear red of the bramble leaves. (Night and Day)
‘Not bad,’ he said, peeling the sloshy oysters from their pearly shells with a little silver fork and swallowing them one after another. ‘Not bad,’ he repeated, raising his moist and shining eyes now to Levin, now to the Tartar. (Anna Karenina)
I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up it’s own asshole, so to speak. (The Paris Review Interviews)
Life was good. He could hardly wait to see what would happen next.
So it goes.
What it comes down to is, I don’t want to ride the same horse in the same race tomorrow. I want to ride a different horse, or be in a different race.
Jorge Luis Borges
Tu materia es el tiempo, el incesante
Tiempo. Eres cada solitario instante.
I bequeath nothingness to no one.
Interviewer: In your Antologia Personal…
Borges: Look here, I want to say that that book is full of misprints. My eyesight is very dim and the proofreading had to be done by somebody else.
Interviewer: I see, but those are only minor errors, aren’t they?
Borges: Yes, I know, but they creep in, and they worry the writer, not the reader. The reader accepts everything, no? Even the starkest nonsense.
Maybe the human animal has contributed really nothing to the universe but kissing and comedy–but by God that’s plenty. (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues)
Ranier Maria Rilke
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. (Letters to a Young Poet)
You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and to try and love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. (Letters to a Young Poet)
Jonathan Safran Foer
This is love, isn’t it? When you notice someone’s absence and hate that absence more than anything? More, even, than you love his presence? (Everything Is Illuminated)
From space, astronauts can see people making love as a tiny speck of light. (Everything Is Illuminated)
You were watching my fingers. Don’t watch my fingers. My fingers are liars. I have taught them to tell pretty lies. (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay)
The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life–and hold it fixed so that 100 years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again.
Summer afternoon–summer afternoon–the two most beautiful words in the English language. (Portrait of a Lady)
She looked as pretty as if instead of showing her photographs I had been making love to her. (“Four Meetings”)
Why do you want to be on The Real World?
Because I want everyone to witness my youth.
Isn’t it gorgeous?
The Royal Tenenbaums
Richie: Dad, you were never really dying.
Royal: But I’m gonna live!
So now every blue has a brother
And every singing silver a sister.
(“Lumber Yard Pools at Sunset”)
Men’s curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint?
Between melting and freezing
The soul’s sap quivers.
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
(“Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”)
When the evening is spread out against the sky.
(“Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”)
I guess if I believe in anything, I believe in the inexplicable. (Door Wide Open)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
…dress stay crisp for him, button stay put, bloom narcissus – air stay still and sweet.
“You’re the only girl I’ve seen for a long time that did actually look like something blooming.” (Tender Is the Night)
Far below, the last exccursion boat from the Isles de Lerins floated across the bay like a Fourth-of-July balloon foot-loose in the heavens. (Tender Is the Night)
It was an exquisite day. It was one of those days so clear, so still, so silent you almost feel the earth itself has stopped in astonishment at its own beauty.
“Isn’t life,” she stammered, “isn’t life–” But what life was she couldn’t explain. (“The Garden-Party”)
Who am I, but my own past? (“A Married Man’s Story”)
To stare down the years. (“At the Bay”)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch? to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!
O camerado close! O you and me at last, and us two only.
O a word to clear one’s path ahead endlessly!
O something ecstatic and undemonstrable! O music wild!
O now I triumph – and you shall also;
O hand in hand – O wholesome pleasure -
O one more desirer and lover!
O to haste firm holding – to haste, haste on with me.
(“Starting from Paumanok”)
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
(“A child said, What is the grass?”)
Everything passes, everything changes.
Just do what you think you should do.
It’s just Halloween…I have my Bob Dylan mask on…
In poetry everything which MUST be said is almost impossible to say well.
Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.
The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
My understanding of the meaning of a book is that the book itself disappears from sight, that it is chewed alive, digested, and incorporated into the system as flesh and blood which in turn creates new spirit and reshapes the world.
I want to be able to carry on the leg language without attracting attention. It works beautifully.
It’s a summer night and everything flung wide open.
I saw the constellations wheeling about the huge hole in the ceiling of the universe; I saw the outer planets and the black star which was to deliver me.
To be a poet is to have a soul so quick to discern, that no shade or quality escapes it, and so quick to feel, that discernment is but a hand playing with finely ordered variety on the chords of emotion–a soul in which knowledge passes instantaneously into feeling, and feeling flashed back as a new organ of knowledge. One may have that condition by fits only.
The universe had not yet beckoned.
“He has got no good red blood in his body,” said Sir James.
“No. Somebody put a drop under a magnifying-glass and it was all semicolons and parentheses,” said Mrs Cadwallader.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal youth. (A Defence of Poetry)
After all, what is a fine lie? Simply that which is its own evidence. (“The Decay of Lying”)
The final revelation is that Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. (“The Decay of Lying”)
To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.
Jay Farrar (Son Volt)
What a life this mess can be.
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee
I sit upon this old grey stone
and dream my time away.
(“Expostulation and Reply”)
Enough of science and art
close up these barren leaves
come forth, and bring with you a heart
that watches and receives.
(“The Tables Turned”)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(“Frost at Midnight”)
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility,–
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
(“Delight in Disorder”)
A dream does not take account of size. A puddle can contain a continent, and a clump of trees stretch in sleep to the world’s edge. (Under the Garden)
I used to be with “it.” Then they changed what “it” was. Now what I’m with isn’t “it” and what’s “it” seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you.
Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.
Is there ever really need to close my heart?
in a letter to Jack Kerouac
“There is no use in trying,” said Alice; “One cannot believe impossible things.” “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Alice in Wonderland)
I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have for life and my way of expressing it.
My heart is like the autumn moon.
Every time I turn around another year on earth is over.
–Force, hatred, history, all that. That’s not life for men and women, insult and hatred. And everybody knows that it’s the opposite of hatred that is really life.
–What? Says Alf.
–Love, says Bloom. I mean the opposite of hatred.
Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. (The Catcher in the Rye)