There are such people, unfortunates who have to be angry before they can feel alive. I had sometimes wondered if it were some old relic of pagan superstition, the fear of risking the jealousy and anger of the gods, that made such people afraid of even small happinesses. Or perhaps it was only that tragedy is more self-important than laughter.
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Yes, but the artist?" said Nigel almost fiercely. "He's different, you know he is. He's driven by some compulsion: if he can't do what he knows he has to do with his life he might as well be dead. He's got to break through the world's indifference, or else break himself against it. He can't help it.
It was nearing 9 O'clock, and the fist duck was drawing down. Behind the trees, the first star pricked out, low and brilliant. The light breeze of the day had dropped, and the evening was very still. The stream sounded loud. I walked down to the gate and stood leaning on the top bar, enjoying the scent of the roses, and straining to listen for any sound from the lane or the road beyond.
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To remember love after long sleep; to turn again to poetry after a year in the market place, or to youth after resignation to drowsy and stiffening age; to remember what once you thought life could hold, after telling over with muddied and calculating fingers what it has offered; this is music, made after long silence. The soul flexes its wings, and, clumsy as any fledgling, tries the air again
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I assure you, I've come to one of those natural breaks in the book, where one can walk away and let things go on working in the subconscious. It's true, don't look so unbelieving. It means I can afford to tear myself away from my view of the pigsties and go out on parole, as much as I like and you'll put up with.
Rest you here, enchanter, while the light fades, Vision narrows, and the far Sky-edge is gone with the sun. Be content with the small spark Of the coal, the smell Of food, and the breath Of frost beyond the shut door. Home is here, and familiar things; A cup, a wooden bowl, a blanket, Prayer, a gift for the god, and sleep. (And music, says the harp, And music.) Rest here, enchanter, while the fire dies. In a breath, in an eyelid's fall, You will see them, the dreams; The sword and the young king, The white horse and the running water, The lit lamp and the boy smiling. Dreams, dreams, enchanter! Gone with the harp's echo when the strings Fall mute; with the flame's shadow when the fire Dies. Be still, and listen. Far on the black air Blows the great wind, rises The running tide, flows the clear river. Listen, enchanter, hear Through the black air and the singing air The music...
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I saw the first light, fore-running the sun, gather in a cup of the eastern cloud, gather and grow and brim, till at last it spilled like milk over the golden lip, to smear the dark face of heaven from end to end. From east to north, and back to south again, the clouds slackened, the stars, trembling on the verge of extinction, guttered in the dawn wind, and the gates of day were ready to open at the trumpet...
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Sometimes, when you're deep in the countryside, you meet three girls, walking along the hill tracks in the dusk, spinning. They each have a spindle, and on to these they are spinning their wool, milk-white, like the moonlight. In fact, it is the moonlight, the moon itself, which is why they don't carry a distaff. They're not Fates, or anything terrible; they don't affect the lives of men; all they have to do is to see that the world gets its hours of darkness, and they do this by spinning the moon down out of the sky. Night after night, you can see the moon getting less and less, the ball of light waning, while it grown on the spindles of the maidens. Then, at length, the moon is gone, and the world has darkness, and rest... on the darkest night, the maidens take their spindles down to the sea, to wash their wool. And the wool slips from the spindles into the water, and unravels in long ripples of light from the shore to the horizon, and there is the moon again, rising above the sea... Only when all the wool is washed, and wound again into a white ball in the sky, can the moon-spinners start their work once more...
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It seems to me you can be awfully happy in this life if you stand aside and watch and mind your own business, and let other people do as they like about damaging themselves and one another. You go on kidding yourself that you're impartial and tolerant and all that, then all of a sudden you realize you're dead, and you've never been alive at all.