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Showing posts from May, 2012

Paul Éluard: Uninterrupted Poetry

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From the sea to the sourceFrom mountain to plain Runs the phantom of life The foul shadow of death But between us A dawn of ardent flesh is born And exact good that sets the earth in order We advance with calm step And nature salutes us The day embodies our colours Fire our eyes the sea our union And all living resemble us All the living we love Imaginary the others Wrong and defined by their birth But we must struggle against them They live by dagger blows They speak like a broken chair Their lips tremble with joy At the echo of leaden bells At the muteness of dark gold A lone heart not a heart A lone heart all the hearts And the bodies every star In a sky filled with stars In a career in movement Of light and of glances Our weight shines on the earth Glaze of desire To sing of human shores For you the living I love And for all those that we love That have no desire but to love I’ll end truly by barring the road Afloat with enforced dreams I’ll end truly by finding myself We’ll take possession of earth 
Translated by A.…

G.K. Chesterton on Bleak House

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Bleak House is not certainly Dickens's best book; but perhaps it is his best novel. Such a distinction is not a mere verbal trick; it has to be remembered rather constantly in connection with his work. This particular story represents the highest point of his intellectual maturity. Maturity does not necessarily mean perfection. It is idle to say that a mature potato is perfect; some people like new potatoes. A mature potato is not perfect, but it is a mature potato; the mind of an intelligent epicure may find it less adapted to his particular purpose; but the mind of an intelligent potato would at once admit it as being, beyond all doubt, a genuine, fully developed specimen of his own particular species. The same is in some degree true even of literature. We can say more or less when a human being has come to his full mental growth, even if we go so far as to wish that he had never come to it. Children are very much nicer than grown-up people; but there is such a thing as growing …

Stéphane Mallarmé: The Flowers

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From golden showers of the ancient skies, On the first day, and the eternal snow of stars, You once unfastened giant calyxes For the young earth still innocent of scars: Young gladioli with the necks of swans, Laurels divine, of exiled souls the dream, Vermilion as the modesty of dawns Trod by the footsteps of the seraphim; The hyacinth, the myrtle gleaming bright, And, like the flesh of woman, the cruel rose, Hérodiade blooming in the garden light, She that from wild and radiant blood arose! And made the sobbing whiteness of the lily That skims a sea of sighs, and as it wends Through the blue incense of horizons, palely Toward the weeping moon in dreams ascends! Hosanna on the lute and in the censers, Lady, and of our purgatorial groves! Through heavenly evenings let the echoes answer, Sparkling haloes, glances of rapturous love! Mother, who in your strong and righteous bosom, Formed calyxes balancing the future flask, Capacious flowers with the deadly balsam For the weary poet with…

Robert Browning: A Grammarian's Funeral

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Shortly after the Revival of Learning in Europe Let us begin and carry up this corpse,          Singing together. Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes          Each in its tether Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain,          Cared-for till cock-crow: Look out if yonder be not day again          Rimming the rock-row! That's the appropriate country; there, man's thought,          Rarer, intenser, Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought,          Chafes in the censer. Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop;          Seek we sepulture On a tall mountain, citied to the top,          Crowded with culture! All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels;          Clouds overcome it; No! yonder sparkle is the citadel's          Circling its summit. Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights:          Wait ye the warning? Our low life was the level's and the night's;          He's for the morning. Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head, …

Eva Gore-Booth: There Is No Age

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There is no age, this darkness and decay Is by a radiant spirit cast aside, Young with the ageless youth that yesterday Bent to the yoke of flesh immortal pride.
What though in time of thunder and black cloud The Spirit of the Innermost recedes Into the depths of Being, stormy browed, Obscured by a long life of dreams and deeds—
There is no age—the swiftly passing hour That measures out our days of pilgrimage And breaks the heart of every summer flower, Shall find again the child’s soul in the sage.
There is no age, for youth is the divine; And the white radiance of the timeless soul Burns like a silver lamp in that dark shrine That is the tired pilgrim’s ultimate goal. Eva Gore-Booth, “There Is No Age” 

Flannery O’Connor and the Habit of Art

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“For the writer of fiction,” Flannery O’Connor once said, “everything has its testing point in the eye, and the eye is an organ that eventually involves the whole personality, and as much of the world as can be got into it.” This way of seeing she described as part of the “habit of art,” a concept borrowed from the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain. She used the expression to explain the way of seeing that the artist must cultivate, one that does not separate meaning from experience. The visual arts became one of her favorite touchstones for explaining this process. Many disciplines could help your writing, she said, but especially drawing: “Anything that helps you to see. Anything that makes you look.” Why was this emphasis on seeing and vision so important to her in explaining how fiction works? Because she came to writing from a background in the visual arts, where everything the artist communicates is apprehended, first, by the eye. She had developed the habits of the …