Where would I be if not for your wild heart?
I ask this not from love, but selfishly—
how could I live? How could I make my art?
Gregory Orr, opening tercet to “Wild Heart,” from The Caged Owl: New & Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 20020)
in this being unable to move away
from my gaze
things dispossess me
make of me a ship on a river of stones
if your voice is not
rain alone in my feverish silence
you unbind my eyes
may you never stop
Alejandra Pizarnik, “Presence,” from Alejandra Pizarnik: Selected Poems, trans. Cecilia Rossi (Waterloo Press, 2010)
I have eyes only for what I do not see and what, I know, will soon dazzle me.
Edmond Jabès, from Answer to a Letter (Nothing Doing, 1973)
It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
Tomas Tranströmer, from “After a Death”, trans. Robert Bly (via litverve)
At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman, and these hills, the softness of the sky, the outline of these trees at this very minute lose the illusory meaning with which we had clothed them, henceforth more remote than a lost paradise. The primitive hostility of the world rises up to face us across millennia.
For a second we cease to understand it because for centuries we have understood in it solely the images and designs that we had attributed to it beforehand, because henceforth we lack the power to make use of that artifice. The world evades us because it becomes itself again. That stage scenery masked by habit becomes again what it is.
Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”
A kind of light spread out from her. And everything changed color. And the world opened out. And a day was good to awaken to. And there were no limits to anything. And the people of the world were good and handsome. And I was not afraid any more.
John Steinbeck, “East of Eden”
Finally he spoke the three simple words that no amount of bad art or bad faith can ever quite cheapen. She repeated them, with exactly the same slight emphasis on the second word, as though she were the one to say them first. He had no religious belief, but it was impossible not to think of an invisible presence or witness in the room, and that these words spoken aloud were like signatures on an unseen contract.
Ian McEwan, “Atonement”
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