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The word "God" is used in most cases as by no means a term of science or exact knowledge, but a term of poetry and eloquence, a term thrown out, so to speak, as a not fully grasped object of the speaker's consciousness -- a literary term, in short; and mankind mean different things by it as their consciousness differs.
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It does not try to reach down to the level of inferior classes; it does not try to win them for this or that sect of its own, with ready-made judgments and watchwords of its own. It seeks to away with classes, to make the best that has been taught and known in the world current everywhere, to make all men live in an atmosphere of sweetness and light, where they may use ideas, as it uses them itself, freely--nourished, and not bound by them.
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Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! and we, Light half-believers of our casual creeds, Who never deeply felt, nor clearly will'd, Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds, Whose vague resolves never have been fulfill'd; For whom each year we see Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new; Who hesitate and falter life away, And lose to-morrow the ground won to-day Ah! do not we, wanderer! await it too?
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Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.
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But often, in the world's most crowded streets, But often, in the din of strife, There rises an unspeakable desire After the knowledge of our buried life; A thirst to spend our fire and restless force In tracking out our true, original course; A longing to inquire Into the mystery of this heart which beats So wild, so deep in us-to know Whence our lives come and where they go.
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Only-but this is rare- When a beloved hand is laid in ours, When, jaded with the rush and glare Of the interminable hours, Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear, When our world-deafen'd ear Is by the tones of a loved voice caress'd- A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast, And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again. The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain, And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know. A man becomes aware of his life's flow, And hears its winding murmur; and he sees The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.
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Up the still, glistening beaches, Up the creeks we will hie, Over banks of bright seaweed The ebb-tide leaves dry. We will gaze, from the sand-hills, At the white, sleeping town; At the church on the hill-side- And then come back down. Singing: "There dwells a loved one, But cruel is she! She left lonely for ever The kings of the sea. (from poem 'The Forsaken Merman')
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Poetry interprets in two ways: it interprets by expressing, with magical felicity, the physiognomy and movements of the outward world; and it interprets by expressing, with inspired conviction, the ideas and laws of the inward world of man's moral and spiritual nature. In other words, poetry is interpretative both by having natural magic in it, and by having moral profundity.
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Protestantism has the method of Jesus with His secret too much left out of mind; Catholicism has His secret with His method too much left out of mind; neither has His unerring balance, His intuition, His sweet reasonableness. But both have hold of a great truth, and get from it a great power.
And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know, Self-school'd, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure, Didst tread on earth unguess'd at. Better so! All pains the immortal spirit must endure, All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow, Find their sole speech in that victorious brow.
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The interpretations of science do not give us this intimate sense of objects as the interpretations of poetry give it; they appeal to a limited faculty, and not to the whole man. It is not Linnaeus or Cavendish or Cuvier who gives us the true sense of animals, or water, or plants, who seizes their secret for us, who makes us participate in their life; it is Shakspeare [sic] ... Wordsworth ... Keats ... Chateaubriand ... Senancour.
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Only--but this is rare--When a beloved hand is laid in ours,When, jaded with the rush and glareOf the interminable hours, Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear,When our world-deafen'd earIs by the tones of a loved voice caress'd--A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.A man becomes aware of his life's flow,And hears its winding murmur; and he seesThe meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.
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It is not in the outward and visible world of material life that the Celtic genius of Wales or Ireland can at this day hope to count for much; it is in the inward world of thought and science.What it has been, what is has done, what it will be or will do, as a matter of modern politics.
Alas! is even love too weak To unlock the heart, and let it speak? Are even lovers powerless to reveal To one another what indeed they feel? I knew the mass of men conceal'd Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd They would by other men be met With blank indifference, or with blame reproved; I knew they lived and moved Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest Of men, and alien to themselves - and yet The same heart beats in every human breast!
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The study of letters is the study of the operation of human force, of human freedom and activity; the study of nature is the study of the operation of non-human forces, of human limitation and passivity. The contemplation of human force and activity tends naturally to heighten our own force and activity; the contemplation of human limits and passivity tends rather to check it. Therefore the men who have had the humanistic training have played, and yet play, so prominent a part in human affairs, in spite of their prodigious ignorance of the universe.
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