"All will go
And one day
We will hold
Only the shadows."
— Carl Sandburg, from “Losses”
" You never come back.
I say good-by when I see you going in the doors,
The hopeless open doors that call and wait
And take you then for—how many cents a day?
How many cents for the sleepy eyes and fingers?
I say good-by because I know they tap your wrists,
In the dark, in the silence, day by day,
And all the blood of you drop by drop,
And you are old before you are young.
You never come back."
— Carl Sandburg, “Mill-Doors”
"The pitch black night gave me two deep black eyes
with which to search for light."
— Gu Cheng, “A Generation” (translated by Sam Hamill)
"My dream is the dream of a pond
Not just to mirror the sky
But to let the willows and ferns
Suck me dry.
I’ll climb from the roots to the veins,
And when leaves wither and fade
I will refuse to mourn
Because I was dying to live."
— Shu Ting, from “Gifts” (translated by Carolyn Kizer)
"I sought to share
the life of snow
snow nor fire
took me in.
I kept my peace,
waiting like flowers,
staying like stones.
In love I lost
I broke away
and watched until
I swayed like a wave
between the life
I dreamed and the changing
dream I lived."
— Adonis, “The Passage” (translated by Samuel Hazo)
"And when we are alone
I tell you what lies
in each direction: This way
is death, and this way, after
a longer walk, is death,
and that way is death but you
won’t see it
until it is right
in front of you."
— Rita Mae Reese, from “Dear Reader”
"I see the mountains in the sky; the great clouds; and the moon; I have a great and astonishing sense of something there, which is “it” - it is not exactly beauty that I mean. It is that the thing is in itself enough: satisfactory, achieved. A sense of my own strangeness, walking on the earth is there too: of the infinite oddity of the human position; with the moon up there and those mountain clouds. Who am I, what am I, and so on: these questions are always floating about in me."
— Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 27 February 1926. (via violentwavesofemotion)
"Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough
to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care
where it’s been, or what bitter road
to come so far, to taste so good."
— Stephen Dunn, from “Sweetness”
"I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts."
"I had no one to help me, but the T. S. Eliot helped me. So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place."
— Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (via junkycosmonaut)
"I acknowledge my status as a stranger:
I found it in the wash, the orange
shell I picked up on the beach
that last time. One of my girls—
the one named after you—
must have found it in my room
and wanted it. Clean calcareous
curve, a palm open to nothing,
reeking of sunshine
and your death. For years
I didn’t know what to do with it.
You would have liked
this story: how a child
slips grief into a careless pocket.
Breaks it to pieces. Lets it go."
— Harriet Brown, “Shell”
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
— Mary Oliver, from “Sometimes”