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The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency --the belief that the here and now is all there is.

A conventional good read is usually a bad read, a relaxing bath in what we know already. A true good read is surely an act of innovative creation in which we, the readers, become conspirators.
You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
A book may be compared to your neighbor: if it be good, it cannot last too long; if bad, you cannot get rid of it too early.
It is well to read everything of something, and something of everything.
Books, books, books had found the secret of a garret-room piled high with cases in my father's name; Piled high, packed large, --where, creeping in and out among the giant fossils of my past, like some small nimble mouse between the ribs of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there at this or that box, pulling through the gap, in heats of terror, haste, victorious joy, the first book first. And how I felt it beat under my pillow, in the morning's dark. An hour before the sun would let me read! My books!
When a book raises your spirit, and inspires you with noble and manly thoughts, seek for no other test of its excellence. It is good, and made by a good workman.
Books succeed, and lives fail.
Reading without purpose is sauntering not exercise.
In science read the newest works, in literature read the oldest.
The worst sorrows in life are not in its losses and misfortune, but its fears.
Research is usually a policeman stopping a novel from progressing.
Americans will listen, but they do not care to read. War and Peace must wait for the leisure of retirement, which never really comes: meanwhile it helps to furnish the living room. Blockbusting fiction is bought as furniture. Unread, it maintains its value. Read, it looks like money wasted. Cunningly, Americans know that books contain a person, and they want the person, not the book.
Books are masters who instruct us without rods or ferules, without words or anger, without bread or money. If you approach them, they are not asleep; if you seek them, they do not hide; if you blunder, they do not scold; if you are ignorant, they do not laugh at you.
A novel is never anything, but a philosophy put into images.
A novel points out that the world consists entirely of exceptions.
What we become depends on what we read after all the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is the collection of books.
If a book comes from the heart it will contrive to reach other hearts. All art and author craft are of small account to that.
A bibliophile of little means is likely to suffer often. Books don't slip from his hands but fly past him through the air, high as birds, high as prices.
I do not love you

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

that this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
Saddest Poem

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms. I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.

What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
My soul is lost without her.

As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once
belonged to my kisses.
Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.
Love is so short and oblivion so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is lost without her.

Although this may be the last pain she causes me,
and this may be the last poem I write for her.
Clenched Soul

We have lost even this twilight.
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.

I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.
Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.

I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.

Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Saying what?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?

The book fell that always closed at twilight
and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.

Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.
It takes a wise man to handle a lie, a fool had better remain honest.
Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.
Love Sonnet XI

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.
The Eighth of September

This day, Today, was a brimming glass.
This day, Today, was an immense wave.
This day was all the Earth.

This day, the storm-driven ocean
lifted us up in a kiss
so exalted we trembled
at the lightning flash
and bound as one, fell,
and drowned, without being unbound.

This day our bodies grew
stretched out to Earth's limits,
orbited there, melded there
to one globe of wax, or a meteor's flame.

A strange door opened, between us,
and someone, with no face as yet,
waited for us there.
Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.
A good book, in the language of the book-sellers, is a salable one; in that of the curious, a scarce one; in that of men of sense, a useful and instructive one.
Books are standing counselors and preachers, always at hand, and always disinterested; having this advantage over oral instructors, that they are ready to repeat their lesson as often as we please.
It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds, and these invaluable means of communication are in the reach of all. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.
God be thanked for books; they are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages.
Every man is a volume if you know how to read him.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason: they made no such demand upon those who wrote them. Those works, therefore, are the most valuable, that set our thinking faculties in the fullest operation. understand them.
Next to acquiring good friends, the best acquisition is that of good books.
Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen. Like friends, too, we should return to them again and again for, like true friends, they will never fail us -- never cease to instruct -- never cloy.
I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book.
The heart that truly loves never forgets.
Love makes the wildest spirit tame, and the tamest spirit wild.
Love and you shall be loved. All love is mathematically just, as much as the two sides of an algebraic equation.
Loving can cost a lot but not loving always costs more, and those who fear to love often find that want of love is an emptiness that robs the joy from life.
A fly may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.
Life is an operation which is done in a forward direction. One lives toward the future, because to live consists inexorably in doing, in each individual life making itself.
Just as a fire is covered by smoke and a mirror is obscured by dust, just as the embryo rests deep within the womb, wisdom is hidden by selfish desire.
There was never an angry man that thought his anger unjust.
When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.
Man, proud man, drest in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he's most assur d, glassy essence, like an angry ape, plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven, as make the angels weep.
Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.
Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
An angry father is most cruel toward himself.
Never forget what a person says to you when they are angry.
If a man meets with injustice, it is not required that he shall not be roused to meet it; but if he is angry after he has had time to think upon it, that is sinful. The flame is not wring, but the coals are.
Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
Man is head, chest and stomach. Each of these animals operates, more often than not, individually. I eat, I feel, I even, although rarely, think. This jungle crawls and teems, is hungry, roars, gets angry, devours itself, and its cacophonic concert does not even stop when you are asleep.
Sticks and stones are hard on bones aimed with angry art. Words can sting like anything but silence breaks the heart.
Be not angry that you cannot make another what you wish them to be; since you cannot make yourself what you wish to be.
We are sick with fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas. Meditation is therefore the art of suspending verbal and symbolic thinking for a time, somewhat as a courteous audience will stop talking when a concert is about to begin.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.
The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather in spite of ourselves.
To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage.
That terrible mood of depression of whether it's any good or not is what is known as The Artist's Reward.
If the book is good, is about something that you know, and is truly written, and reading it over you see that this is so, you can let the boys yip and the noise will have that pleasant sound coyotes make on a very cold night when they are out in the snow and you are in your own cabin that you have built or paid for with your work.
Love is not love until love's vulnerable.
Freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something- and it is only such love that can know freedom.
One does not fall in love; one grows into love, and love grows in him.
To love one child and to love all children, whether living or dead --somewhere these two loves come together. To love a no-good but humble punk and to love an honest man who believes himself to be an honest man --somewhere these, too, come together.
In her first passion, a woman loves her lover, in all the others all she loves is love.
Man's love is of man's life a part; it is a woman's whole existence. In her first passion, a woman loves her lover, in all the others all she loves is love.
The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather loved in spite of ourselves.
Happiness comes more from loving than being loved; and often when our affection seems wounded it is only our vanity bleeding. To love, and to be hurt often, and to love again -- this is the brave and happy life.
The priesthood is a marriage. People often start by falling in love, and they go on for years without realizing that love must change into some other love which is so unlike it that it can hardly be recognized as love at all.
One does not kill oneself for love of a woman, but because love -- any love -- reveals us in our nakedness, our misery, our vulnerability, our nothingness.
We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never so forlornly unhappy as when we have lost our love object or its love.
It is certain that if you would have the whole secret of a people, you must enter into the intimacy of their religion.
The perfection of art is to conceal art.
A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon.
Religion is love; in no case is it logic.
Culture's essential service to a religion is to destroy intellectual idolatry, the recurrent tendency in religion to replace the object of its worship with its present understanding and forms of approach to that object.
To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance.
Youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless. The end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.
When you have really exhausted an experience you always reverence and love it. The two things that nearly all of us have thoroughly and really been through are childhood and youth. And though we would not have them back again on any account, we feel that they are both beautiful, because we have drunk them dry.
The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself.
You cannot love a thing without wanting to fight for it.
Psychoanalysis is confession without absolution.
Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.
There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.
To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.
Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.
We ought to see far enough into a hypocrite to see even his sincerity.
Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.
A stiff apology is a second insult. The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.
The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.
Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.
The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.
Men always talk about the most important things to perfect strangers. In the perfect stranger we perceive man himself; the image of a God is not disguised by resemblances to an uncle or doubts of wisdom of a mustache.
Nothing is poetical if plain daylight is not poetical; and no monster should amaze us if the normal man does not amaze.
The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. He is the man who has lost everything except his reason.
A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished.
Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes -- our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking around.
The only way of catching a train I have ever discovered is to miss the train before.
The chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a color. Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell.
Variability is one of the virtues of a woman. It avoids the crude requirement of polygamy. So long as you have one good wife you are sure to have a spiritual harem.
When we really worship anything, we love not only its clearness but its obscurity. We exult in its very invisibility.
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.
The doctrine of human equality reposes on this: that there is no man really clever who has not found that he is stupid.
The perplexity of life arises from there being too many interesting things in it for us to be interested properly in any of them.
I believe in getting into hot water. I think it keeps you clean.
It is clear that all verbal structures with meaning are verbal imitations of that elusive psychological and physiological process known as thought, a process stumbling through emotional entanglements, sudden irrational convictions, involuntary gleams of insight, rationalized prejudices, and blocks of panic and inertia, finally to reach a completely incommunicable intuition.
Man staggers through life yapped at by his reason, pulled and shoved by his appetites, whispered to by fears, beckoned by hopes. Small wonder that what he craves most is self-forgetting.
Sensual pleasures are like soap bubbles, sparkling, effervescent. The pleasures of intellect are calm, beautiful, sublime, ever enduring and climbing upward to the borders of the unseen world.
Sticks and stones may break your bones when there's anger to impart. Spiteful words can hurt your feelings but silence breaks your heart. Anger is as a stone cast into a wasp's nest.
The imaginations which people have of one another are the solid facts of society.
The way we imagine ourselves to appear to another person is an essential element in our conception of ourselves. In other words, I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.
To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art -- that is, intimacy, spirituality, color, aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by every means available to the arts.
The essence of romantic love is that wonderful beginning, after which sadness and impossibility may become the rule.
When a load of bricks, dumped on a corner lot, can arrange themselves into a house; when a handful of springs and screws and wheels, emptied on a desk, can gather themselves into a watch, then and not until then will it seem sensible, to some of us at least, to believe that all these thousands or millions of worlds could have been created, balanced and set to revolving in their separate orbits -- all without any directing intelligence at all.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living, they can tell you, being dead: the communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Our emotions are only incidents in the effort to keep day and night together.
All cases are unique and very similar to others.
What we know of other people's only our memory of the moments during which we knew them.
Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.
There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.
The Creator has not given you a longing to do that which you have no ability to do.
Hope is the most sensitive part of a poor wretch's soul; whoever raises it only to torment him is behaving like the executioners in Hell who, they say, incessantly renew old wounds and concentrate their attention on that area of it that is already lacerated.
Lust is to the other passions what the nervous fluid is to life; it supports them all, lends strength to them all ambition, cruelty, avarice, revenge, are all founded on lust.
Lust's passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes.
Any punishment that does not correct, that can merely rouse rebellion in whoever has to endure it, is a piece of gratuitous infamy which makes those who impose it more guilty in the eyes of humanity, good sense and reason, nay a hundred times more guilty than the victim on whom the punishment is inflicted.
I've already told you: the only way to a woman's heart is along the path of torment. I know none other as sure.
There is in every woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.
Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish it's source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of withering, of tarnishing.
What helps luck is a habit of watching for opportunities, of having a patient but restless mind, of sacrificing one's ease or vanity, or uniting a love of detail to foresight, and of passing through hard times bravely and cheerfully.
Men... are bettered and improved by trial, and refined out of broken hopes and blighted expectations.
It isn't enough for your heart to break because everybody's heart is broken now.
The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.
A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.
Had we never lov'd sae kindly, Had we never lov'd sae blindly, Never met -- or never parted -- we had never been broken-hearted.
The years like great black oxen tread the world, and God the herdsman treads them on behind, and I am broken by their passing feet.
It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace.
I am to be broken. I am to be derided all my life. I am to be cast up and down among these men and women, with their twitching faces, with their lying tongues, like a cork on a rough sea. Like a ribbon of weed I am flung far every time the door opens.
Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves -- that's the truth. We have two or three great moving experiences in our lives -- experiences so great and moving that it doesn't seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before.
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals.
Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of bar-room vernacular, that is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive.
What I have crossed out I didn't like. What I haven't crossed out I'm dissatisfied with.
Remember the waterfront shack with the sign FRESH FISH SOLD HERE. Of course it's fresh, we're on the ocean. Of course it's for sale, we're not giving it away. Of course it's here, otherwise the sign would be someplace else. The final sign: FISH.
The waste basket is a writer's best friend.
There is but one art, to omit.

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