We should consider that the brightness of the Divine countenance, which even an apostle declares to be inaccessible, (1Ti 6: 16) is a kind of labyrinth - a labyrinth to us inextricable, if the Word do not serve us as a thread to guide our path; and that it is better to limp in the way, than run with the greatest swiftness out of it.
There is psychological pleasure in this takeoff, too, for the swiftness of the plane's ascent is an exemplary symbol of transformation. The display of power can inspire us to imagine analogous, decisive shifts in our own lives, to imagine that we, too, might one day surge above much that now looms over us." P. 38-39
Alain de Botton
Life will follow the path it started upon, and will neither reverse nor check its course; it will make no noise, it will not remind you of its swiftness. Silent it will glide on; it will not prolong itself at the command of a king, or at the applause of the populace. Just as it was started on its first day, so it will run; nowhere will it turn aside, nowhere will it delay.
For the production of man a different apprenticeship [from forests] was needed to sharpen the wits and quicken the higher manifestations of intellect - a more open veldt country where competition was keener between swiftness and stealth, and where adroitness of thinking played a preponderating role in the preservation of the species.
When your weapons are dulled and ardour damped, your strength exhausted and treasure spent, neighboring rulers will take advantage of your distress to act. And even though you have wise counsellors, none will be able to lay good plans for the future. Thus, while we have heard of blundering swiftness in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged.
I'm never more aware of the limitations of language than when I try to describe beauty. Language can create its own loveliness, of course, but it cannot deliver to us the radiance we apprehend in the world, any more than a photograph can capture the stunning swiftness of a hawk or the withering power of a supernova... All that pictures or words can do is gesture beyond themselves toward the fleeting glory that stirs our hearts. So I keep gesturing.
And many kinds of creatures must have died, Unable to plant out new sprouts of life. For whatever you see that lives and breathes and thrives Has been, from the very beginning, guarded, saved By it's trickery for its swiftness or brute strength. And many have been entrusted to our care, Commended by their usefulness to us. For instance, strength supports a savage lion; Foxes rely on their cunning; deer their flight.
At Tara in this fateful hour, I place all Heaven with its power, And the sun with its brightness, And the snow with its whiteness, And the fire with all the strength it hath, And the lightning with its rapid wrath, And the winds with their swiftness along their path, And the sea with its deepness, And the rocks with their steepness, And the earth with its starkness: All these I place, By God's almighty help and grace Between myself and the powers of darkness!
Now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion.
In our view any awareness is an increment to consciousness, an added light, a reinforcement of psychic coherence. Its swiftness or instantaneity can hide this growth from us. But there is a growth of being in every instance of awareness. Consciousness is in itself an act, the human act.
It was a quiet way - He asked if I was his - I made no answer of the tongue But answer of the eyes - And then He bore me on Before this mortal noise With swiftness, as of Chariots and distance, as of Wheels. This World did drop away As acres from the feet of one that leaneth from Balloon Upon an Ether Street. The Gulf behind was not, The Continents were new - Eternity was due. No Seasons were to us - It was not Night nor Morn - But Sunrise stopped upon the place And Fastened in Dawn.
I had never thought about it, but summer was Dill by the fishpool smoking string, Dill's eyes alive with complicated plans to make Boo Radley emerge; summer was the swiftness with which Dill would reach up and kiss me when Jem was not looking, the longings we sometimes felt each other feel. With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable..." - Scout Finch
On the geological time scale, a human lifetime is reduced to a brevity that is too inhibiting to think about deep time. ... Geologists ... see the unbelievable swiftness with which one evolving species on the Earth has learned to reach into the dirt of some tropical island and fling 747s across the sky ... Seeing a race unaware of its own instantaneousness in time, they can reel off all the species that have come and gone, with emphasis on those that have specialized themselves to death.
It had grown darker now; it was full night already, with the swiftness of the mountainous latitudes. The square of sky over the patio was soft and dark as indigo velour, with magnificent stars like many-legged silver spiders festooned on its underside. Below them the white roses gleamed phosphorescently in the starlight, with a magnesium-like glow. There was a tiny splash from the depths of the well as a pebble or grain of dislodged earth fell in. ("The Moon Of Montezuma")
FALLING STARS: Do you remember still the falling stars that like swift horses through the heavens raced and suddenly leaped across the hurdles of our wishes -- do you recall? And we did make so many! For there were countless numbers of stars: each time we looked above we were astounded by the swiftness of their daring play, while in our hearts we felt safe and secure watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate, knowing somehow we had survived their fall.
Rainer Maria Rilke
The sound of the freezing of snow over the land seemed to roar deep into the earth. There was no moon. The stars, almost too many of them to be true, came forward so brightly that it was as if they were falling with the swiftness of the void. As the stars came nearer, the sky retreated deeper and deeper into the night color. The layers of the Border Range, indistinguishable one from another, cast their heaviness at the skirt of the starry sky in a blackness grave and somber enough to communicate their mass. The whole of the night scene came together in a clear, tranquil harmony.
The Master Speed No speed of wind or water rushing by but you have speed far greater. You can climb back up a stream of radiance to the sky, and back through history up the stream of time. And you were given this swiftness, not for haste nor chiefly that you may go where you will, but in the rush of everything to waste, that you may have the power of standing still-- off any still or moving thing you say. Two such as you with such a master speed From one another once you are agreed that life is only life forevermore together wing to wing and oar to oar.
The smallest thing by the influence of eternity is made infinite and eternal. We pass through a standing continent or region of ages, that are already ebfore us, glorious and perfect while we come to them. Like men in a ship we pass forward, the shores and marks seeming to go backward, though we move and they stand still. We are not with them in our progressive motion, but prevent the swiftness of our course, and are present with them in our understandings. Like the sun we dart our rays before us, and occupy those spaces with light and contemplation which we move towards, but possess not with our bodies. And seeing all things in the light of Divine knowledge, eternally serving God, rejoice unspeakable in that service, and enjoy it all.
They all seem infected with a vivaciousness that isn't common in our compound, and there are more smiles on their faces than I've ever seen at once. And yet as I watch them, I feel more intensely than ever the knowledge that I'm not one of them. For these moral humans, birthdays are a kind of countdown to the end, the ticking clock of a dwindling life. For me, birthdays are notches on an infinite timeline. Will I grow tired of parties one day? Will my birthday become meaningless? I imagine myself centuries from now, maybe at my three-hundredth birthday, looking all the way back to my seventeenth. How will I possibly be happy, remembering the light in my mother's eyes? The swiftness of Uncle Antonio's steps as he dances? The way my father stands on edge of the courtyard, smiling in that vague, absent way of his? The scene shifts and blues in my imagination. As if brushed away by some invisible broom, these people whom I've known my entire life disappear. The courtyard is empty, bare, covered in decaying leaves. I imagine Little Cam deserted, with everyone dead and gone and only me left in the shadows. Forever.
For centuries poets, some poets, have tried to give a voice to the animals, and readers, some readers, have felt empathy and sorrow. If animals did have voices, and they could speak with the tongues of angels-at the very least with the tongues of angels-they would be unable to save themselves from us. What good would language do? Their mysterious otherness has not saved them, nor have their beautiful songs and coats and skins and shells and eyes. We discover the remarkable intelligence of the whale, the wolf, the elephant-it does not save them, nor does our awareness of the complexity of their lives. Their strength, their skills, their swiftness, the beauty of their flights. It matters not, it seems, whether they are large or small, proud or shy, docile or fierce, wild or domesticated, whether they nurse their young or brood patiently on eggs. If they eat meat, we decry their viciousness; if they eat grasses and seeds, we dismiss them as weak. There is not one of them, not even the songbird who cannot, who does not, conflict with man and his perceived needs and desires. St. Francis converted the wolf of Gubbio to reason, but he performed this miracle only once and as miracles go, it didn't seem to capture the public's fancy. Humans don't want animals to reason with them. It would be a disturbing, unnerving, diminishing experience; it would bring about all manner of awkwardness and guilt.
Do I, then, belong to the heavens? Why, if not so, should the heavens Fix me thus with their ceaseless blue stare, Luring me on, and my mind, higher Ever higher, up into the sky, Drawing me ceaselessly up To heights far, far above the human? Why, when balance has been strictly studied And flight calculated with the best of reason Till no aberrant element should, by rights, remain- Why, still, should the lust for ascension Seem, in itself, so close to madness? Nothing is that can satify me; Earthly novelty is too soon dulled; I am drawn higher and higher, more unstable, Closer and closer to the sun's effulgence. Why do these rays of reason destroy me? Villages below and meandering streams Grow tolerable as our distance grows. Why do they plead, approve, lure me With promise that I may love the human If only it is seen, thus, from afar- Although the goal could never have been love, Nor, had it been, could I ever have Belonged to the heavens? I have not envied the bird its freedom Nor have I longed for the ease of Nature, Driven by naught save this strange yearning For the higher, and the closer, to plunge myself Into the deep sky's blue, so contrary To all organic joys, so far From pleasures of superiority But higher, and higher, Dazzled, perhaps, by the dizzy incandescence Of waxen wings. Or do I then Belong, after all, to the earth? Why, if not so, should the earth Show such swiftness to encompass my fall? Granting no space to think or feel, Why did the soft, indolent earth thus Greet me with the shock of steel plate? Did the soft earth thus turn to steel Only to show me my own softness? That Nature might bring home to me That to fall, not to fly, is in the order of things, More natural by far than that improbable passion? Is the blue of the sky then a dream? Was it devised by the earth, to which I belonged, On account of the fleeting, white-hot intoxication Achieved for a moment by waxen wings? And did the heavens abet the plan to punish me? To punish me for not believing in myself Or for believing too much; Too earger to know where lay my allegiance Or vainly assuming that already I knew all; For wanting to fly off To the unknown Or the known: Both of them a single, blue speck of an idea?