But he would have us most of all remember to be enthusiastic over the night. Not only for the sense of wonder it alone has to offer but also because it needs our love. For with sad eyes its delectable creatures look up and beg us dumbly to ask them to follow. They are exiles who long for a future that lies in our power.
W. H. Auden
How could people like these, without words to put to their emotions and passions, manage? They could, at best, only suffer dumbly. Their pains and humiliations would work themselves out in their characters alone: like evil spirits possessing a body, so that the body itself might appear innocent of what it did.
V. S. Naipaul
She hops expectantly into the sink. I turn on the tap for her; she laps without a glance in my direction, like a duchess so used to being ministered to that she no longer notices the servants and sees only a world where objects dumbly bend to her wishes, doors opening, faucets discharging cool water, delicious things appearing in her dish.
She poured the water, arranged some bread near enough the embers to scorch but not catch fire, and looked up at Little John. She was so accustomed to his step, to his bulk, that it took a moment to notice his face; and when she did . . . It was, she thought, rather like the moment it took to realize one had cut one's finger as one stared dumbly at the first drop of blood on the knife-blade. You know it is going to hurt quite a lot in a minute.
There are times when we can feel destiny close around us like a fist around a doorknob. Sure, we can resist. But a knob that won't turn, a door that sticks and never budges, is a nuisance to the gods. The gods may kick in the jamb. Worse, they may walk away in disgust, leaving us to hang dumbly from our tight hinges, deprived of any other chance in life to swing open into unnecessary risk and thus into enchantment.
The hands of those I meet are dumbly eloquent to me. The touch of some hands is an impertinence. I have met people so empty of joy, that when I clasped their frosty finger-tips, it seemed as if I were shaking hands with a northeast storm. Others there are whose hands have sunbeams in them, so that their grasp warms my heart. It may be only the clinging touch of a child's hand; but there is as much potential sunshine in it for me as there is in a loving glance for others. A hearty handshake or a friendly letter gives me genuine pleasure.
And then, suddenly, an extraordinary question rose in my mind, whether this stupendous globe of green fire might not be the vast Central Sun-the great sun, round which our universe and countless others revolve. I felt confused. I thought of the probable end of the dead sun, and another suggestion came, dumbly-Do the dead stars make the Green Sun their grave? The idea appealed to me with no sense of grotesqueness; but rather as something both possible and probable.
William Hope Hodgson
all the ideals and beliefs you ever had have crashed about your gun-deafened ears - you don't believe in God or them or the infallibility of England or anything but bloody war and wounds and foul smells and smutty stories and smoke and bombs and lice and filth and noise, noise, noise - you live in a world of cold sick fear, a dirty world of darkness and despair - you want to crawl ignominiously home away from these painful writhing things that once were men, these shattered, tortured faces that dumbly demand what it's all about in Christ's name ...
Left weaponless, Roran was forced to retreat before the remaining soldier. He stumbled over a corpse, cutting his calf on a sword as he fell, and rolled to avoid a two-handed blow from the soldier, scrabbling frantically in the ankle-deep mud for something, anything he could use as a weapon. A hilt brushed his fingers, and he ripped it from the muck and slashed at the soldier's sword hand, severing his thumb. The man stared dumbly at the glistening stump, then said, "This is what comes from not shielding myself." "Aye, " agreed Roran, and beheaded him.
Chess, which exists predominantly in two dimensions, is one of the world's most difficult games. Three-dimensional chess is an invitation to insanity. But human relationships, even of the simplest order, are like a kind of four-dimensional chess, a game whose pieces and positions change subtly and inexorably between moves, whose players stare dumbly while their powerful positions deteriorate into hopeless predicaments and while improbable combinations suddenly become inevitable. To make matters worse, some games are open to any number of players, and all sides are expected to win.
So what's the deal with you and my sister?" He laughs shortly and rubs the back of his neck like something is there, tickling, tapping. "Tamra." Clutching the dashboard, I turn and glare at her. "There is no deal." She snorts. "Well, we wouldn't be sitting here if that was the case now, would we?" I open my mouth to demand she end the interrogation when Will's voice stops me. "I like your sister. A lot." I look at him dumbly. He looks at me, lowers his voice to say, "I like you." I know that, I guess, but heat still crawls over my face. I swing forward in my seat, cross my arms over my chest and stare straight ahead. Can't stop shivering. Can't speak. My throat hurts too much. "Jacinda, " he says. "I think you've shocked her, " Tamra offers, then sighs.
Yes, I just... ' Should I be honest and sound like a complete loser? Oh why the hell not? 'I have not had a kiss like that in a while.' I licked my lips. He looked me dead in the eye. 'Good.' A wave of silence crashed over us. I didn't know what to say to that. 'Well, I better get going. See you soon?' I nodded dumbly. 'Mmm-hmm.' He smiled and began to walk away. I couldn't just let him go! 'Declan!' He turned. 'Yes, Cake?' Come on, brain! Think of something! 'What should I wear? I mean, what kind of place is Shellshock?' Yes, yes, that was fine... damage averted. 'California casual.' 'Oh, ok.' I think I knew what that meant. Spend three hours getting ready to make it look like you just threw any-ol'-thing on. 'Have a nice night.' He flicked his head my way. 'You too.' Then he was gone. And then I was sad. It was ridiculous. Preposterous, even. I was going to have to come clean about the ring- eventually. I hoped he didn't bring it up because I would probably tell the poor guy my life story to get to why the ring he bought meant so much to me.
I don't want to be a widow, I don't want Michael Bayning, and I don't want you to joke about such things, you tactless clodpole!' As all three of them stared at her openmouthed, Poppy leapt up and stalked away, her hands drawn into fists. Bewildered by the immediate force of her fury-it was like being stung by a butterfly-Harry stared after her dumbly. After a moment, he asked the first coherent thought that came to him. 'Did she just say she doesn't want Bayning?' 'Yes, ' Win said, a smile hovering on her lips. 'That's what she said. Go after her, Harry.' Every cell in Harry's body longed to comply. Except that he had the feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff, with one ill-chosen word likely to send him over. He gave Poppy's sister a desperate glance. 'What should I say?' 'Be honest with her about your feelings, ' Win suggested. A frown settled on Harry's face as he considered that. 'What's my second option?
There was a single window that tapered into a funnel, with eerie moonlight passing through it, reflecting directly off the globe like a mirror. For a moment, as I rose I saw something glimmering within. Dumbly, with feverish whispers assailing me, I realized it was the center of one of the distant galaxies, flaring after some unknown cataclysm. Its radiance was such that it burst from its prison. It met the moonlight halfway. It created kaleidoscopic colours on the walls. Then, in answer, the reliefs transformed from majestic art into something approaching divine, alive, plays from Egyptian memory, given the spark of life from space. I saw animal-headed gods move. They stepped from the walls to take their place around the altar. All stared at the globe. Each raised their arms in silent supplication. And such was their toxic ecstasy that I wished to join them, to forget my dreadful experiences and revel in something truly wondrous.
Who knew?' he says. 'I had no idea that someone could be such a thorn in your foot during a death march and still be irresistibly attractive in some magical, undeniable way.' 'So is that what people call sweet nothings? Because somehow, I expected it to be a little more... complimentary.' 'Don't you know a heartfelt declaration of love when you hear one?' I blink dumbly at him with my heart pounding. He caresses a lock of my hair out of my face. 'Look, I know that we're from different worlds and different people. But I've realized that it doesn't matter.' 'You don't care about the angelic rules anymore?' 'My Watchers have helped me realize that angelic rules are for angels. Without our wings, we can never be fully accepted back into the fold. There will always be talk of taking a newly Fallen's wings and transplanting them onto us. Angels are perfect. Even with transplanted wings, we'll never again be perfect. You accept me just the way I am, regardless of whether or not I even have wings. Even when I had my demon wings, you've never looked at me with pity. You've never wavered in your loyalty. That's who you are - my brave, loyal, lovable Daughter of Man.
Hold on to me!' Tedros yelled, hacking briars with his training sword.Dazed, Agatha clung to his chest as he withstood thorn lashes with moans of pain. Soon he had the upper hand and pulled Agatha from the Woods towards the spiked gates, which glowed in recognition and pulled apart, cleaving a narrow path for the two Evers. As the gates speared shut behind them, Agatha looked up at limping Tedros, crisscrossed with bloody scratches, blue shirt shredded away. 'Had a feeling Sophie was getting in through the Woods, ' he panted, hauling her up into slashed arms before she could protest. 'So Professor Dovey gave me permission to take some fairies and stakeout the outer gates. Should have known you'd be here trying to catch her yourself.' Agatha gaped at him dumbly. 'Stupid idea for a princess to take on witches alone, ' Tedros said, dripping sweat on her pink dress. 'Where is she?' Agatha croaked. 'Is she safe?' 'Not a good idea for princesses to worry about witches either, ' Tedros said, hands gripping her waist. Her stomach exploded with butterflies. 'Put me down, ' she sputtered- 'More bad ideas from the princess.' 'Put me down!'Tedros obeyed and Agatha pulled away. 'I'm not a princess!' she snapped, fixing her collar. 'If you say so, ' the prince said, eyes drifting downward.Agatha followed them to her gashed legs, waterfalls of brilliant blood. She saw blood blurring- Tedros smiled. 'One... two... three... 'She fainted in his arms. 'Definitely a princess, ' he said.
Yet, at the same time, as the Eastern sages also knew, man is a worm and food for worms. This is the paradox: he is out of nature and hopelessly in it; he is dual, up in the stars and yet housed in a heart-pumping, breath-gasping body that once belonged to a fish and still carries the gill-marks to prove it. His body is a material fleshy casing that is alien to him in many ways-the strangest and most repugnant way being that it aches and bleeds and will decay and die. Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever. It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and to have to live with. The lower animals are, of course, spared this painful contradiction, as they lack a symbolic identity and the self-consciousness that goes with it. They merely act and move reflexively as they are driven by their instincts. If they pause at all, it is only a physical pause; inside they are anonymous, and even their faces have no name. They live in a world without time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb being. This is what has made it so simple to shoot down whole herds of buffalo or elephants. The animals don't know that death is happening and continue grazing placidly while others drop alongside them. The knowledge of death is reflective and conceptual, and animals are spared it. They live and they disappear with the same thoughtlessness: a few minutes of fear, a few seconds of anguish, and it is over. But to live a whole lifetime with the fate of death haunting one's dreams and even the most sun-filled days-that's something else.
Exoneration of Jesus Christ If Christ was in fact God, he knew all the future. Before Him like a panorama moved the history yet to be. He knew how his words would be interpreted. He knew what crimes, what horrors, what infamies, would be committed in his name. He knew that the hungry flames of persecution would climb around the limbs of countless martyrs. He knew that thousands and thousands of brave men and women would languish in dungeons in darkness, filled with pain. He knew that his church would invent and use instruments of torture; that his followers would appeal to whip and fagot, to chain and rack. He saw the horizon of the future lurid with the flames of the auto da fe. He knew what creeds would spring like poisonous fungi from every text. He saw the ignorant sects waging war against each other. He saw thousands of men, under the orders of priests, building prisons for their fellow-men. He saw thousands of scaffolds dripping with the best and bravest blood. He saw his followers using the instruments of pain. He heard the groans-saw the faces white with agony. He heard the shrieks and sobs and cries of all the moaning, martyred multitudes. He knew that commentaries would be written on his words with swords, to be read by the light of fagots. He knew that the Inquisition would be born of the teachings attributed to him. He saw the interpolations and falsehoods that hypocrisy would write and tell. He saw all wars that would be waged, and-he knew that above these fields of death, these dungeons, these rackings, these burnings, these executions, for a thousand years would float the dripping banner of the cross. He knew that hypocrisy would be robed and crowned-that cruelty and credulity would rule the world; knew that liberty would perish from the earth; knew that popes and kings in his name would enslave the souls and bodies of men; knew that they would persecute and destroy the discoverers, thinkers and inventors; knew that his church would extinguish reason's holy light and leave the world without a star. He saw his disciples extinguishing the eyes of men, flaying them alive, cutting out their tongues, searching for all the nerves of pain. He knew that in his name his followers would trade in human flesh; that cradles would be robbed and women's breasts unbabed for gold. And yet he died with voiceless lips. Why did he fail to speak? Why did he not tell his disciples, and through them the world: 'You shall not burn, imprison and torture in my name. You shall not persecute your fellow-men.' Why did he not plainly say: 'I am the Son of God, ' or, 'I am God'? Why did he not explain the Trinity? Why did he not tell the mode of baptism that was pleasing to him? Why did he not write a creed? Why did he not break the chains of slaves? Why did he not say that the Old Testament was or was not the inspired word of God? Why did he not write the New Testament himself? Why did he leave his words to ignorance, hypocrisy and chance? Why did he not say something positive, definite and satisfactory about another world? Why did he not turn the tear-stained hope of heaven into the glad knowledge of another life? Why did he not tell us something of the rights of man, of the liberty of hand and brain? Why did he go dumbly to his death, leaving the world to misery and to doubt? I will tell you why. He was a man, and did not know.
Robert G. Ingersoll