Poetry is a sort of inspired mathematics, which gives us equations, not for abstract figures, triangles, squares, and the like, but for the human emotions. If one has a mind which inclines to magic rather than science, one will prefer to speak of these equations as spells or incantations; it sounds more arcane, mysterious, recondite.
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My pawing over the ancients and semi-ancients has been one struggle to find out what has been done, once and for all, better than it can ever be done again, and to find out what remains for us to do, and plenty does remain, for if we still feel the same emotions as those who launched a thousand ships, it is quite certain that we came on these feelings differently, through different nuances, by different intellectual gradations. Each age has its own abounding gifts yet only some ages transmute them into matters of duration.
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The Garden En robe de parade. - Samain Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens, And she is dying piece-meal of a sort of emotional anaemia. And round about there is a rabble Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor. They shall inherit the earth. In her is the end of breeding. Her boredom is exquisite and excessive. She would like some one to speak to her, And is almost afraid that I will commit that indiscretion.
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I wonder why the wind, even the wind doth seem To mock me now, all night, all night, and Have I strayed among the cliffs here They say, some day I'll fall Down through the sea-bit fissures, and no more Know the warm cloak of sun, or bathe The dew across my tired eyes to comfort them. They try to keep me hid within four walls. I will not stay!
Two mystic states can be dissociated: the ecstatic-beneficent-and-benevolent, contemplation of the divine love, the divine splendour with goodwill toward others. And the bestial, namely the fanatical, the man on fire with God and anxious to stick his snotty nose into other men's business or reprove his neighbour for having a set of tropisms different from that of the fanatic's, or for having the courage to live more greatly and openly. The second set of mystic states is manifest in scarcity economists, in repressors etc. The first state is a dynamism. It has, time and again, driven men to great living, it has given them courage to go on for decades in the face of public stupidity. It is paradisical and a reward in itself seeking naught further... perhaps because a feeling of certitude inheres in the state of feeling itself. The glory of life exists without further proof for this mystic.
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We claim no glory. If the tempest rolls About us we have fear, and then Having so small a stake grow bold again. We know not definitely even this But 'cause some vague half knowing half doth miss Our consciousness and leaves us feeling That somehow all is well, that sober, reeling From the last carouse, or in what measure Of so called right or so damned wrong our leisure Runs out uncounted sand beneath the sun, That, spite your carping, still the thing is done With some deep sanction, that, we know not how, Sans thought gives us this feeling; you allow That this not need we know our every thought Or see the work shop where each mask is wrought Wherefrom we view the world of box and pit, Careless of wear, just so the mask shall fit And serve our jape's turn for a night or two.
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When you start searching for 'pure elements' in literature you will find that literature has been created by the following classes of persons: Inventors. Men who found a new process, or whose extant work gives us the first known example of a process. The masters. Men who combined a number of such processes, and who used them as well as or better than the inventors. The diluters. Men who came after the first two kinds of writer, and couldn't do the job quite as well. Good writers without salient qualities. Men who are fortunate enough to be born when the literature of a given country is in good working order, or when some particular branch of writing is 'healthy'. For example, men who wrote sonnets in Dante's time, men who wrote short lyrics in Shakespeare's time or for several decades thereafter, or who wrote French novels and stories after Flaubert had shown them how. Writers of belles-lettres. That is, men who didn't really invent anything, but who specialized in some particular part of writing, who couldn't be considered as 'great men' or as authors who were trying to give a complete presentation of life, or of their epoch. The starters of crazes. Until the reader knows the first two categories he will never be able 'to see the wood for the trees'. He may know what he 'likes'. He may be a 'compleat book-lover', with a large library of beautifully printed books, bound in the most luxurious bindings, but he will never be able to sort out what he knows to estimate the value of one book in relation to others, and he will be more confused and even less able to make up his mind about a book where a new author is 'breaking with convention' than to form an opinion about a book eighty or a hundred years old. He will never understand why a specialist is annoyed with him for trotting out a second- or third-hand opinion about the merits of his favourite bad writer.
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And the good writer chooses his words for their 'meaning', but that meaning is not a a set, cut-off thing like the move of knight or pawn on a chess-board. It comes up with roots, with associations, with how and where the word is familiarly used, or where it has been used brilliantly or memorably.
The individual cannot think and communicate his thought, the governor and legislator cannot act effectively or frame his laws without words, and the solidity and validity of these words is in the care of the damned and despised litterati... when their very medium, the very essence of their work, the application of word to thing goes rotten, i.e. becomes slushy and inexact, or excessive or bloated, the whole machinery of social and of individual thought and order goes to pot.
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The flavors of the peach and the apricot are not lost from generation to generation, neither are they transmitted by book learning. The mystic tradition, any mystic tradition, is of a similar nature, that is, it is dependent on direct perception, a 'knowledge' as permanent as the faculty for receiving it.
The author's conviction on this day of New Year is that music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance; that poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music; but this must not be taken as implying that all good music is dance music or all poetry lyric. Bach and Mozart are never too far from physical movement.
Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something. Don't use such an expression as 'dim land of peace.' It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer's not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol. Go in fear of abstraction.
Sovereignty inheres in the right to issue money. And the American sovereignty belongs by right to the people, and their representatives in Congress have the right to issue money and to determine the value thereof. And 120 million, 120 million suckers have lamentably failed to insist on the observation of this quite decided law. ... Now the point at which embezzlement of the nation's funds on the part of her officers becomes treason can probably be decided only by jurists, and not by hand-picked judges who support illegality.
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We live in an age of science and of abundance. The care and reverence for books as such, proper to an age when no book was duplicated until someone took the pains to copy it out by hand, is obviously no longer suited to 'the needs of society', or to the conservation of learning. The weeder is supremely needed if the Garden of the Muses is to persist as a garden.
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The individual cannot think and communicate his thought, the governor and legislator cannot act effectively or frame his laws without words, and the solidity and validity of these words is in the care of the damned and despised litterati...when their very medium, the very essence of their work, the application of word to thing goes rotten, i.e. becomes slushy and inexact, or excessive or bloated, the whole machinery of social and of individual thought and order goes to pot.
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