There is little else to do but write this clear explanation of everything that has happened to me since the misfortune of birth. He that has fared better, and without deceiving himself, let him utter his jackass cry.
For art is like a living organism — better dead than dying.
Never could the eye have beheld the sun, had not its own essence been soliform, neither can a soul not beautiful attain to an intuition of beauty.
When the artichoke flowers, and the chirping grass-hopper sits in a tree and pours down his shrill song continually from under his wings in the season of wearisome heat, then goats are plumpest and wine sweetest; women are most wanton, but men are feeblest.
At that time let me have a shady rock and wine of Biblis, a clot of curds and milk of drained goats with the flesh of an heifer fed in the woods, that has never calved, and of firstling kids; then also let me drink bright wine, sitting in the shade, when my heart is satisfied with food, and so, turning my head to face the fresh Zephyr, from the everflowing spring which pours down unfouled thrice pour an offering of water, but make a fourth libation of wine.
Fools! They know not how much more the half is than the whole, nor what great advantage there is in mallow and asphodel.
Full many a stoic eye and aspect stern
Mask hearts where grief hath little left to learn;
And many a withering thought lies hid, not lost,
In smiles that least befit who wear them most.
The sea had leeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad.
In man or fish, wriggling is a sign of inferiority.
Failure is less frequently attributable to either insufficiency of means or impatience of labour, than to a confused understanding of the thing actually to be done.
Love has many masks; masks of submission and of oppression; and even more terrible masks that make Nature a stranger to herself and ‘turn the truth of God into a lie,’ as St. Paul wrote.
I could cite you more than one hundred incidents corroborating the truth, that people have a very confused idea when their senses are tied up by fear and anxiety. As soon as cool reflection gives way to the horrors of a disordered fancy, we are but too apt to create phantoms and spectres all around us, we do not see what really exists, but what we fear to behold.
Horrid to behold did now a second phantom appear before our gazing looks, staggering slowly towards us, and leaving a numerous retinue on the staircase; the garment of the spectre was stained with blood, the skull fractured, the eyes like two portentous comets!
There is one thing to be said for Mondays. They take the mind off everything else.
There is no such thing as a stationary point in human endeavors; he who is not worse today than he was yesterday is better; and he who is not better is worse.
There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.
Sweet close rings of the serpent’s twining,
As heart in heart lay sighing and pining.
“What bright babes had Lilith and Adam!
(Sing Eden Bower!)
Shapes that coiled in the woods and waters,
Glittering sons and radiant daughters.
It sometimes happens that, even against principles, even against liberty, equality, and fraternity, even against universal suffrage, even against the government of all by all, from the depths of its anguish, of its discouragements, of its privations, of its fevers, of its distresses, of its miasmas, of its ignorance, of its darkness, that great madman, the rabble, protests, and the populace gives battle to the people.
There are some people, my dear, who hate advice, and, on the whole, do you know, I rather think they are right.
If it were not that every child of earth must learn wisdom for himself in the school of pain and labour, and if experience were orally communicable, as old people are prone to fancy, and if youth were less conceited and selfish, comparatively few foolish things would be done, and this life would lose, in a large measure, its efficacy as a place of discipline.
Thus, in the rough, the coarse old comedy is true; a great gulf separates age and youth. The youngsters will, to the end of time, prefer new lamps to old: they will trust their own senses, not yours. Buzz in the ears of your brood that flame burns and cobwebs catch. Their senses tell them that candlelight and warmth are pleasant, and liberty to fly high or low as one pleases; and, therefore, your love may as well be silent on those subjects. Otherwise you become, in their eyes, but a venerable muff and a bore. Nature has ordained that their nerves shall quiver, as yours have done, and their hearts thumb with fear; and when their turn comes they will scorch their wings, as you have, and make acquaintance with the spider.
Flocks of birds fell like paper
Into the wells
And when I lifted the blue wings
I saw a growing grave.