melting & burning


March 1, 2014, 4:13 am
Filed under: quote | Tags: ,

So why is reading books any better than reading tweets or wall posts? Well, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, you need to put down your book, if only to think about what you’re reading, what you think about what you’re reading. But a book has two advantages over a tweet. First, the person who wrote it thought about it a lot more carefully. The book is the result of his solitude, his attempt to think for himself. Second, most books are old. This is not a disadvantage: this is precisely what makes them valuable. They stand against the conventional wisdom of today simply because they’re not from today. Even if they merely reflect the conventional wisdom of their own day, they say something different from what you hear all the time. But the great books, the ones you find on a syllabus, the ones people have continued to read, don’t reflect the conventional wisdom of their day. They say things that have the permanent power to disrupt our habits of thought. They were revolutionary in their own time, and they are still revolutionary today.

— William Deresiewicz “Solitude and Leadership”

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I’ve Been Waiting These Thirty Years – Anna Świrszczyńska
January 20, 2014, 7:28 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: ,

That young beanpole was maybe six feet tall,
that light-hearted worker from Powiśle
who fought
in the hell of Zielna Street, in the telephone building.
When I changed the bandage on
his leg that was torn open
he winced, he laughed.

‘When the war’s over
we’ll go dancing, miss.
It’s on me’.

I’ve been waiting for him
these thirty years.

Translated from the Polish by Magnus Jan Keynski and Robert A. Maguire



The Sonnets to Orpheus XIII – Rilke
April 14, 2012, 9:57 pm
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Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it all will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice-more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be-and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.
Translated by Stephen Mitchell



Prose poems – Baudelaire
December 4, 2011, 6:40 am
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You must always be intoxicated.
That sums it all up: it’s the only question.
In order not to feel the horrible burden of Time which breaks your back and bends you down to earth, you must be unremittingly intoxicated.
But on what? Wine, poetry, virtue, as you please.

But never be sober.
And if it should chance that sometimes, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the bleak solitude of your room, you wake up and your intoxication has already diminished or disappeared, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, ask everything that flees, everything that groans, everything that rolls, everything that sings, everything that speaks, ask them what time it is and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, will reply: It’s time to be intoxicated!

If you do not wish to be one of the tortured slaves of Time, never be sober; never ever be sober! Use wine, poetry, or virtue, as you please.



Time – Edna St. Vincent Malay
January 31, 2011, 12:10 am
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Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide!

There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim!
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him!