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A good novel is one that shows the complexity of individuals, and creates enough space for all these characters to have a voice; in this way a novel is called democratic — not that it advocates democracy but that by nature it is so.

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Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, Saviour of Society

Epigraph

Υδραν φονεύσας, μυρίων τ᾽ ἄλλων πόνων
διῆλθον ἀγέλας . . .
τὸ λοίσθιον δὲ τόνδ᾽ ἔτλην τάλας πόνον,
. . . δῶμα θριγκῶσαι κακοῖς.

I slew the Hydra, and from labour pass'd
To labour — tribes of labours! Till, at last,
Attempting one more labour, in a trice,
Alack, with ills I crowned the edifice.

You have seen better days, dear? So have I —
And worse too, for they brought no such bud-mouth
As yours to lisp "You wish you knew me!" Well,
Wise men, 't is said, have sometimes wished the same,
And wished and had their trouble for their pains.
Suppose my Œdipus should lurk at last
Under a pork-pie hat and crinoline,
And, latish, pounce on Sphynx in Leicester Square?
Or likelier, what if Sphynx in wise old age,
Grown sick of snapping foolish people's heads,
And jealous for her riddle's proper rede, —
Jealous that the good trick which served the turn
Have justice rendered it, nor class one day
With friend Home's stilts and tongs and medium-ware,—
What if the once redoubted Sphynx, I say,
(Because night draws on, and the sands increase,
And desert-whispers grow a prophecy)
Tell all to Corinth of her own accord.
Bright Corinth, not dull Thebes, for Lais' sake,
Who finds me hardly grey, and likes my nose,
And thinks a man of sixty at the prime?
Good! It shall be! Revealment of myself!
But listen, for we must co-operate;
I don't drink tea: permit me the cigar!
First, how to make the matter plain, of course —
What was the law by which I lived. Let 's see:
Ay, we must take one instant of my life
Spent sitting by your side in this neat room:
Watch well the way I use it, and don't laugh!
Here's paper on the table, pen and ink:
Give me the soiled bit — not the pretty rose!
See! having sat an hour, I'm rested now,
Therefore want work: and spy no better work
For eye and hand and mind that guides them both,
During this instant, than to draw my pen
From blot One — thus — up, up to blot Two — thus —
Which I at last reach, thus, and here's my line
Five inches long and tolerably straight:

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The Interpretation of Nature and

I.

MAN, being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature: beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.


II.

Neither the naked hand nor the understanding left to itself can effect much. It is by instruments and helps that the work is done, which are as much wanted for the understanding as for the hand. And as the instruments of the hand either give motion or guide it, so the instruments of the mind supply either suggestions for the understanding or cautions.

III.

Human knowledge and human power meet in one; for where the cause is not known the effect cannot be produced. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed; and that which in contemplation is as the cause is in operation as the rule.

IV.

Towards the effecting of works, all that man can do is to put together or put asunder natural bodies. The rest is done by nature working within.

V.

The study of nature with a view to works is engaged in by the mechanic, the mathematician, the physician, the alchemist, and the magician; but by all (as things now are) with slight endeavour and scanty success.

VI.

It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.

VII.

The productions of the mind and hand seem very numerous in books and manufactures. But all this variety lies in an exquisite subtlety and derivations from a few things already known; not in the number of axioms.

VIII.

Moreover the works already known are due to chance and experiment rather than to sciences; for the sciences we now possess are merely systems for the nice ordering and setting forth of things already invented; not methods of invention or directions for new works.

IX.

The cause and root of nearly all evils in the sciences is this -- that while we falsely admire and extol the powers of the human mind we neglect to seek for its true helps.

X.

The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding; so that all those specious meditations, speculations, and glosses in which men indulge are quite from the purpose, only there is no one by to observe it.

XI.

As the sciences which we now have do not help us in finding out new works, so neither does the logic which we now have help us in finding out new sciences.

XII.

The logic now in use serves rather to fix and give stability to the errors which have their foundation in commonly received notions than to help the search after truth. So it does more harm than good.

XIII.

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Song of Wink Star

The Song of Wink Star
a happy story for children of all ages
story and text © Raj Arumugam, June 2008

☼ ☼

☼ Preamble

Come…children all, children of all ages…sit close and listen…
Come and listen to this happy story of the stars and of life…
Come children of the universe, children of all nations and of all races, and of all climates and of all kinds of space and dimensions and universes…
Come, dearest children of all beings of the living universe, come and listen to The Song of Wink Star…

Come and listen to this story, this happy story…listen, as the story itself sings to you…

Sit close then, and listen to the story that was not made by any, or written by a poet, or fashioned by grandfathers and grandmothers warming themselves at the fire of burning stars…

O dearest children all, come and listen to the story that lives
of itself, and that glows bright and happy….

Come…children all, children of all ages, come and listen to this happy story, the story so natural and smooth as life, as it sings itself to you….


The Song of Wink Star
a happy story for children of all ages


☼ 1


Night Child, always so light and gentle, slept on a flower.
And every night, before he went to sleep, he would look up at the sky.
He would look at the eastern corner, five o’clock.

And there he would see all the stars in near and distant galaxies that were only visible to the People of Star Eyes.

Night Child was one of the People of Star Eyes. And so he could see the stars. And of all the stars he could see, he loved to watch Wink Star.

Wink Star twinkled and winked and laughed.
Every night Wink Star did that. Winked and laughed.

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Would you ever believe

WOULD YOU EVER believe if I called a nondescript table of teakwood; as a vivacious bird soaring high in the sky,

Would you ever believe if I called a ruffled sheet of paper; as a chunk of glittering gold,

Would you ever believe if I called a grandiloquent watch embodied with diamonds; as a lump of bedraggled stone,

Would you ever believe if I called a mountain of compacted mud; as a switchboard of pugnacious electricity,

Would you ever believe if I called a resplendent rainbow in the sky; as a broomstick with incongruous bristles,

Would you ever believe if I called a rusty canister of dilapidated iron; as a mesmerizing rose growing in the garden,

Would you ever believe if I called a pink tablet of luxury soap; as a mosquito hovering acrimoniously in the cloistered room,

Would you ever believe if I called a boat rollicking merrily on the undulating waves; as a rustic jungle spider,

Would you ever believe if I called a valley profusely embedded with snow; as an unscrupulous dog on the street,

Would you ever believe if I called a pair of luscious lips; as a disdainfully fetid shoe,

Would you ever believe if I called a fluorescent rod of light; as a jagged bush of cactus growing in the sweltering desert,

Would you ever believe if I called the blazing sun; as a pudgy bar of delectable chocolate,
Would you ever believe if I called an angular sculptured bone; as acid bubbling in a swanky bottle,

Would you ever believe if I called a scintillating oyster; as an inarticulate matchstick coated with lead,

Would you ever believe if I called a cluster of bells jingling from the ceiling; as a sordid cockroach philandering beside the lavatory seat,

Would you ever believe if I called a fruit of succulent coconut; as a dead mans morbid tooth,

Would you ever believe If I called a steaming cup of filter coffee; as gaudily colored water emanating from the street fountains,

Would you ever believe if I called the majestic statue of a revered historian; as a slab of tangy peanut butter,

Would you ever believe if I called a vibrant shirt; as a protuberant pigeon discerningly pecking its beak at grains scattered on the floor,

Would you ever believe if I called a flocculent bud of cotton; as a camouflaged lizard transgressing through wild projections of grass,

Would you ever believe if I called a photograph depicting the steep gorges; as a gutter inundated with obnoxious sewage,

Would you ever believe if I called a lanky giraffe; as a convict nefariously lurking through solitary streets of the city,

Would you ever believe if I called a pair of flamboyant sunglasses; as a weird tattoo to be adhered to the chest,

Would you ever believe if I called a chicken’s egg; as logs of sooty charcoal abundantly stashed in the colossal warehouse,

Would you ever believe if I called a biscuit replete with golden honey; as a ominously slithering reptile in the jungles,

Would you ever believe if I called a bald man possessing a profoundly tonsured scalp; as a gas balloon floating in insipid air,

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The Rosciad

Unknowing and unknown, the hardy Muse
Boldly defies all mean and partial views;
With honest freedom plays the critic's part,
And praises, as she censures, from the heart.

Roscius deceased, each high aspiring player
Push'd all his interest for the vacant chair.
The buskin'd heroes of the mimic stage
No longer whine in love, and rant in rage;
The monarch quits his throne, and condescends
Humbly to court the favour of his friends;
For pity's sake tells undeserved mishaps,
And, their applause to gain, recounts his claps.
Thus the victorious chiefs of ancient Rome,
To win the mob, a suppliant's form assume;
In pompous strain fight o'er the extinguish'd war,
And show where honour bled in every scar.
But though bare merit might in Rome appear
The strongest plea for favour, 'tis not here;
We form our judgment in another way;
And they will best succeed, who best can pay:
Those who would gain the votes of British tribes,
Must add to force of merit, force of bribes.
What can an actor give? In every age
Cash hath been rudely banish'd from the stage;
Monarchs themselves, to grief of every player,
Appear as often as their image there:
They can't, like candidate for other seat,
Pour seas of wine, and mountains raise of meat.
Wine! they could bribe you with the world as soon,
And of 'Roast Beef,' they only know the tune:
But what they have they give; could Clive do more,
Though for each million he had brought home four?
Shuter keeps open house at Southwark fair,
And hopes the friends of humour will be there;
In Smithfield, Yates prepares the rival treat
For those who laughter love, instead of meat;
Foote, at Old House,--for even Foote will be,
In self-conceit, an actor,--bribes with tea;
Which Wilkinson at second-hand receives,
And at the New, pours water on the leaves.
The town divided, each runs several ways,
As passion, humour, interest, party sways.
Things of no moment, colour of the hair,
Shape of a leg, complexion brown or fair,
A dress well chosen, or a patch misplaced,
Conciliate favour, or create distaste.
From galleries loud peals of laughter roll,
And thunder Shuter's praises; he's so droll.
Embox'd, the ladies must have something smart,

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Edgar Lee Masters

Epilogue

(THE GRAVEYARD OF SPOON RIVER. TWO VOICES ARE HEARD BEHIND A SCREEN DECORATED WITH DIABOLICAL AND ANGELIC FIGURES IN VARIOUS ALLEGORICAL RELATIONS. A FAINT LIGHT SHOWS DIMLY THROUGH THE SCREEN AS IF IT WERE WOVEN OF LEAVES, BRANCHES AND SHADOWS.)

FIRST VOICE

A game of checkers?

SECOND VOICE

Well, I don't mind.

FIRST VOICE

I move the Will.

SECOND VOICE

You're playing it blind.

FIRST VOICE

Then here's the Soul.

SECOND VOICE

Checked by the Will.

FIRST VOICE

Eternal Good!

SECOND VOICE

And Eternal Ill.

FIRST VOICE

I haste for the King row.

SECOND VOICE

Save your breath.

FIRST VOICE

I was moving Life.

SECOND VOICE

You're checked by Death.

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XI. Guido

You are the Cardinal Acciaiuoli, and you,
Abate Panciatichi—two good Tuscan names:
Acciaiuoli—ah, your ancestor it was
Built the huge battlemented convent-block
Over the little forky flashing Greve
That takes the quick turn at the foot o' the hill
Just as one first sees Florence: oh those days!
'T is Ema, though, the other rivulet,
The one-arched brown brick bridge yawns over,—yes,
Gallop and go five minutes, and you gain
The Roman Gate from where the Ema's bridged:
Kingfishers fly there: how I see the bend
O'erturreted by Certosa which he built,
That Senescal (we styled him) of your House!
I do adjure you, help me, Sirs! My blood
Comes from as far a source: ought it to end
This way, by leakage through their scaffold-planks
Into Rome's sink where her red refuse runs?
Sirs, I beseech you by blood-sympathy,
If there be any vile experiment
In the air,—if this your visit simply prove,
When all's done, just a well-intentioned trick,
That tries for truth truer than truth itself,
By startling up a man, ere break of day,
To tell him he must die at sunset,—pshaw!
That man's a Franceschini; feel his pulse,
Laugh at your folly, and let's all go sleep!
You have my last word,—innocent am I
As Innocent my Pope and murderer,
Innocent as a babe, as Mary's own,
As Mary's self,—I said, say and repeat,—
And why, then, should I die twelve hours hence? I—
Whom, not twelve hours ago, the gaoler bade
Turn to my straw-truss, settle and sleep sound
That I might wake the sooner, promptlier pay
His due of meat-and-drink-indulgence, cross
His palm with fee of the good-hand, beside,
As gallants use who go at large again!
For why? All honest Rome approved my part;
Whoever owned wife, sister, daughter,—nay,
Mistress,—had any shadow of any right
That looks like right, and, all the more resolved,
Held it with tooth and nail,—these manly men
Approved! I being for Rome, Rome was for me.
Then, there's the point reserved, the subterfuge
My lawyers held by, kept for last resource,
Firm should all else,—the impossible fancy!—fail,
And sneaking burgess-spirit win the day.
The knaves! One plea at least would hold,—they laughed,—
One grappling-iron scratch the bottom-rock

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Walt Whitman

As I Sat Alone By Blue Ontario's Shores

AS I sat alone, by blue Ontario's shore,
As I mused of these mighty days, and of peace return'd, and the dead
that return no more,
A Phantom, gigantic, superb, with stern visage, accosted me;
Chant me the poem, it said, that comes from the soul of America--
chant me the carol of victory;
And strike up the marches of Libertad--marches more powerful yet;
And sing me before you go, the song of the throes of Democracy.

(Democracy--the destin'd conqueror--yet treacherous lip-smiles
everywhere,
And Death and infidelity at every step.)


A Nation announcing itself,
I myself make the only growth by which I can be appreciated, 10
I reject none, accept all, then reproduce all in my own forms.

A breed whose proof is in time and deeds;
What we are, we are--nativity is answer enough to objections;
We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded,
We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves,
We are executive in ourselves--We are sufficient in the variety of
ourselves,
We are the most beautiful to ourselves, and in ourselves;
We stand self-pois'd in the middle, branching thence over the world;
From Missouri, Nebraska, or Kansas, laughing attacks to scorn.

Nothing is sinful to us outside of ourselves, 20
Whatever appears, whatever does not appear, we are beautiful or
sinful in ourselves only.

(O mother! O sisters dear!
If we are lost, no victor else has destroy'd us;
It is by ourselves we go down to eternal night.)


Have you thought there could be but a single Supreme?
There can be any number of Supremes--One does not countervail
another, any more than one eyesight countervails another, or
one life countervails another.

All is eligible to all,
All is for individuals--All is for you,
No condition is prohibited--not God's, or any.

All comes by the body--only health puts you rapport with the
universe. 30

Produce great persons, the rest follows.

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Mist Upon the Placid Morn

Bleed out your beauty, Autumn –
Give up a gentle wrist, and smear
Your bloody hues atop the green.

Cast a calming throw of heady peace
Upon the cooling land.
And as you grant the sun a final fling of warmth,
Charge the silent air
(Now lolling on a foliar deathbed)
With earthen whiff to intimate the fungal push.

Soon you’ll send a shiver down the watery spine of
Quivering ponds, punctual brooks, and
Listless lakes, to warn them of the freeze to come.

Behold! your mellow spirit
Hanging as a mist upon the placid morn –
A sight that draws a sneaking tear or two – forlorn
Observers are we all of colder climes to view!

Autumn Lady, must you be the summer waning –?
Our adieu to fairer-weather life?
Ah well, at least you hum a warming tone, ensuring
Nature’s rhythm still abounds.

But now you must prepare the mind for chilly times –
You know the drill –
Guiding us along a sloping path
To ease our psyche in to sleet and snow –
The blue-ice bite of winter.


Copyright © Mark R Slaughter 2010


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As I ventured to the Wood

As I ventured to the wood,
I stopped to draw on dewy air; let
Droplets shimmer in my hair, that
Rested on my tranquil head – as
In a sense of cosy bed.

As I ventured to the wood,
A gesturing cuckoo perched above,
And then in song with cooing dove,
‘You're welcome’, bade he, ’Enter please
To roam our land with gentle breeze.’

As I ventured to the wood,
A fallow deer of limpid eye
Gave care to glance at lucky I.
The heavenly aura 'bout her glow had
Charmed me, like a fine Bordeaux.

As I ventured to the wood,
A dazzling flower waved her face
In blazing show of dance and chase, and
Reddened bright in shade of dawn, she
Flirted like a prancing fawn.

As I ventured to the wood,
A butterfly had graced my arm,
And knowing I bid him no harm, he
Splayed for me hypnotic wing in
Colours for to urge me sing!

As I ventured to the wood,
The radiant sun shone down on me.
He flushed and beamed ‘I say to thee,
You bless your land; be filled with pride, and
Cherish e’er yon countryside! ’

Copyright © Mark R Slaughter 2009
All rights reserved

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A Country Path in Late Spring

The path of mossy ground nestled
In between maternal hedgerows,
That overgrew atop, dimming down
The brilliance of the day.
Embosomed, a calm-cool vision –
Abstract takes of nature, in
Leaf-spattered green shades;
Stem-speckled brown hues;
Shards of sunlight percolating
Through the random flaws to
Up glittering sprites upon the leaves.

And avian chatter bounced along the burrow,
Smattered by the crosstalk
Of busybody insects;
But outside the green comfort zone,
Other worlds of other sounds of other life
Otherwise gave a hint of
Other dozy goings on.

Hawthorn filled the air,
Filled the nose,
Filled the head –
Pungency had overpowered all
Gave the late-spring-early-summer haze.

Here and there a break of colour:
Odd bluebells – escapees from nearby woods –
Blue-blushing bell faces glancing down,
Aware of their erectness in the stem;
The flaming wing of red admirals
Broke through a hedge hole to
Break up the calm backdrop,
While flitting blue tits gave
To greater-bodied animation.

Nature’s warm narration –
The undertones of life.

Copyright © Mark R Slaughter 2010

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VI. Giuseppe Caponsacchi

Answer you, Sirs? Do I understand aright?
Have patience! In this sudden smoke from hell,—
So things disguise themselves,—I cannot see
My own hand held thus broad before my face
And know it again. Answer you? Then that means
Tell over twice what I, the first time, told
Six months ago: 't was here, I do believe,
Fronting you same three in this very room,
I stood and told you: yet now no one laughs,
Who then … nay, dear my lords, but laugh you did,
As good as laugh, what in a judge we style
Laughter—no levity, nothing indecorous, lords!
Only,—I think I apprehend the mood:
There was the blameless shrug, permissible smirk,
The pen's pretence at play with the pursed mouth,
The titter stifled in the hollow palm
Which rubbed the eyebrow and caressed the nose,
When I first told my tale: they meant, you know,
"The sly one, all this we are bound believe!
"Well, he can say no other than what he says.
"We have been young, too,—come, there's greater guilt!
"Let him but decently disembroil himself,
"Scramble from out the scrape nor move the mud,—
"We solid ones may risk a finger-stretch!
And now you sit as grave, stare as aghast
As if I were a phantom: now 't is—"Friend,
"Collect yourself!"—no laughing matter more—
"Counsel the Court in this extremity,
"Tell us again!"—tell that, for telling which,
I got the jocular piece of punishment,
Was sent to lounge a little in the place
Whence now of a sudden here you summon me
To take the intelligence from just—your lips!
You, Judge Tommati, who then tittered most,—
That she I helped eight months since to escape
Her husband, was retaken by the same,
Three days ago, if I have seized your sense,—
(I being disallowed to interfere,
Meddle or make in a matter none of mine,
For you and law were guardians quite enough
O' the innocent, without a pert priest's help)—
And that he has butchered her accordingly,
As she foretold and as myself believed,—
And, so foretelling and believing so,
We were punished, both of us, the merry way:
Therefore, tell once again the tale! For what?
Pompilia is only dying while I speak!
Why does the mirth hang fire and miss the smile?
My masters, there's an old book, you should con
For strange adventures, applicable yet,

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The Victories Of Love. Book I

I
From Frederick Graham

Mother, I smile at your alarms!
I own, indeed, my Cousin's charms,
But, like all nursery maladies,
Love is not badly taken twice.
Have you forgotten Charlotte Hayes,
My playmate in the pleasant days
At Knatchley, and her sister, Anne,
The twins, so made on the same plan,
That one wore blue, the other white,
To mark them to their father's sight;
And how, at Knatchley harvesting,
You bade me kiss her in the ring,
Like Anne and all the others? You,
That never of my sickness knew,
Will laugh, yet had I the disease,
And gravely, if the signs are these:

As, ere the Spring has any power,
The almond branch all turns to flower,
Though not a leaf is out, so she
The bloom of life provoked in me;
And, hard till then and selfish, I
Was thenceforth nought but sanctity
And service: life was mere delight
In being wholly good and right,
As she was; just, without a slur;
Honouring myself no less than her;
Obeying, in the loneliest place,
Ev'n to the slightest gesture, grace
Assured that one so fair, so true,
He only served that was so too.
For me, hence weak towards the weak,
No more the unnested blackbird's shriek
Startled the light-leaved wood; on high
Wander'd the gadding butterfly,
Unscared by my flung cap; the bee,
Rifling the hollyhock in glee,
Was no more trapp'd with his own flower,
And for his honey slain. Her power,
From great things even to the grass
Through which the unfenced footways pass,
Was law, and that which keeps the law,
Cherubic gaiety and awe;
Day was her doing, and the lark
Had reason for his song; the dark
In anagram innumerous spelt
Her name with stars that throbb'd and felt;

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Space

T-minus 60 seconds and counting
Arm light on
Switching command 2 internal
Switching command 2 internal
[missile..internal..]
Affirmative
Ready
Check
Affirmative
Affirmative
Space
I never been 1 2 hide my feelings
Baby, u blow my mind
I painted your face upon my ceiling
I stare at it all the time
I imagine myself inside your bedroom
Oh I imagine myself in your sky
(u) u are the reason theres bass in my boom
(oh u) u are the reason Im high
If u and I were just ten feet closer
Then Id make u understand
That everything I wanna do 2 your body, baby
I would do 2 your head
Then ud be hip 2 the deep rush
Deeper than the boom of the bass
With every other flick of the pink plush
The closer we get 2 the space (the closer we get 2 the space)
(the space)
(the space)
(the space)
Dont u want 2 go? (the space)
Where the souls go (the space)
Where the tears flow (the space)
Where the love grows
Do u want 2 go?
I never been 1 4 this thing obsession
But just keep your eye on my hips
The circles they may be my confession
Just say the word and Ill strip
Ive had dreams of us cuddling on the planet mars
Then when I wake up, Im all covered in sex
With eyes that fall somewhere between rubies and stars
Dont look at me baby or Ill flex
If u and I were just ten feet closer
Then Id make u understand
That everything I wanna do 2 your body, baby
I would do 2 your head
Then ud be hip 2 the deep rush
Deeper than the boom of the bass
With every other flick of the pink plush

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Gotham - Book I

Far off (no matter whether east or west,
A real country, or one made in jest,
Nor yet by modern Mandevilles disgraced,
Nor by map-jobbers wretchedly misplaced)
There lies an island, neither great nor small,
Which, for distinction sake, I Gotham call.
The man who finds an unknown country out,
By giving it a name, acquires, no doubt,
A Gospel title, though the people there
The pious Christian thinks not worth his care
Bar this pretence, and into air is hurl'd
The claim of Europe to the Western world.
Cast by a tempest on the savage coast,
Some roving buccaneer set up a post;
A beam, in proper form transversely laid,
Of his Redeemer's cross the figure made--
Of that Redeemer, with whose laws his life,
From first to last, had been one scene of strife;
His royal master's name thereon engraved,
Without more process the whole race enslaved,
Cut off that charter they from Nature drew,
And made them slaves to men they never knew.
Search ancient histories, consult records,
Under this title the most Christian lords
Hold (thanks to conscience) more than half the ball;
O'erthrow this title, they have none at all;
For never yet might any monarch dare,
Who lived to Truth, and breathed a Christian air,
Pretend that Christ, (who came, we all agree,
To bless his people, and to set them free)
To make a convert, ever one law gave
By which converters made him first a slave.
Spite of the glosses of a canting priest,
Who talks of charity, but means a feast;
Who recommends it (whilst he seems to feel
The holy glowings of a real zeal)
To all his hearers as a deed of worth,
To give them heaven whom they have robb'd of earth;
Never shall one, one truly honest man,
Who, bless'd with Liberty, reveres her plan,
Allow one moment that a savage sire
Could from his wretched race, for childish hire,
By a wild grant, their all, their freedom pass,
And sell his country for a bit of glass.
Or grant this barbarous right, let Spain and France,
In slavery bred, as purchasers advance;
Let them, whilst Conscience is at distance hurl'd,
With some gay bauble buy a golden world:
An Englishman, in charter'd freedom born,
Shall spurn the slavish merchandise, shall scorn

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Alexander Pope

An Essay on Criticism

Part I

INTRODUCTION. That it is as great a fault to judge ill as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public. That a true Taste is as rare to be found as a true Genius. That most men are born with some Taste, but spoiled by false education. The multitude of Critics, and causes of them. That we are to study our own Taste, and know the limits of it. Nature the best guide of judgment. Improved by Art and rules, which are but methodized Nature. Rules derived from the practice of the ancient poets. That therefore the ancients are necessary to be studied by a Critic, particularly Homer and Virgil. Of licenses, and the use of them by the ancients. Reverence due to the ancients, and praise of them.


'Tis hard to say if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two less dangerous is th'offence
To tire our patience than mislead our sense:
Some few in that, but numbers err in this;
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss;
A fool might once himself alone expose;
Now one in verse makes many more in prose.

'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
True Taste as seldom is the Critic's share;
Both must alike from Heav'n derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as those to write.
Let such teach others who themselves excel,
And censure freely who have written well;
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not Critics to their judgment too?

Yet if we look more closely, we shall find
Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind:
Nature affords at least a glimm'ring light;
The lines, tho' touch'd but faintly, are drawn right:
But as the slightest sketch, if justly traced,
Is by ill col'ring but the more disgraced,
So by false learning is good sense defaced:
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools:
In search of wit these lose their common sense,
And then turn Critics in their own defence:
Each burns alike, who can or cannot write,
Or with a rival's or an eunuch's spite.
All fools have still an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing side.
If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spite,
There are who judge still worse than he can write.

Some have at first for Wits, then Poets pass'd;
Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain Fools at last.
Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass.
Those half-learn'd witlings, numerous in our isle,
As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile;
Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,

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Tamar

I
A night the half-moon was like a dancing-girl,
No, like a drunkard's last half-dollar
Shoved on the polished bar of the eastern hill-range,
Young Cauldwell rode his pony along the sea-cliff;
When she stopped, spurred; when she trembled, drove
The teeth of the little jagged wheels so deep
They tasted blood; the mare with four slim hooves
On a foot of ground pivoted like a top,
Jumped from the crumble of sod, went down, caught, slipped;
Then, the quick frenzy finished, stiffening herself
Slid with her drunken rider down the ledges,
Shot from sheer rock and broke
Her life out on the rounded tidal boulders.

The night you know accepted with no show of emotion the little
accident; grave Orion
Moved northwest from the naked shore, the moon moved to
meridian, the slow pulse of the ocean
Beat, the slow tide came in across the slippery stones; it drowned
the dead mare's muzzle and sluggishly
Felt for the rider; Cauldwell’s sleepy soul came back from the
blind course curious to know
What sea-cold fingers tapped the walls of its deserted ruin.
Pain, pain and faintness, crushing
Weights, and a vain desire to vomit, and soon again
die icy fingers, they had crept over the loose hand and lay in the
hair now. He rolled sidewise
Against mountains of weight and for another half-hour lay still.
With a gush of liquid noises
The wave covered him head and all, his body
Crawled without consciousness and like a creature with no bones,
a seaworm, lifted its face
Above the sea-wrack of a stone; then a white twilight grew about
the moon, and above
The ancient water, the everlasting repetition of the dawn. You
shipwrecked horseman
So many and still so many and now for you the last. But when it
grew daylight
He grew quite conscious; broken ends of bone ground on each
other among the working fibers
While by half-inches he was drawing himself out of the seawrack
up to sandy granite,
Out of the tide's path. Where the thin ledge tailed into flat cliff
he fell asleep. . . .
Far seaward
The daylight moon hung like a slip of cloud against the horizon.
The tide was ebbing
From the dead horse and the black belt of sea-growth. Cauldwell
seemed to have felt her crying beside him,

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Eighth Book

ONE eve it happened when I sate alone,
Alone upon the terrace of my tower,
A book upon my knees, to counterfeit
The reading that I never read at all,
While Marian, in the garden down below,
Knelt by the fountain (I could just hear thrill
The drowsy silence of the exhausted day)
And peeled a new fig from that purple heap
In the grass beside her,–turning out the red
To feed her eager child, who sucked at it
With vehement lips across a gap of air
As he stood opposite, face and curls a-flame
With that last sun-ray, crying, 'give me, give,'
And stamping with imperious baby-feet,
(We're all born princes)–something startled me,–
The laugh of sad and innocent souls, that breaks
Abruptly, as if frightened at itself;
'Twas Marian laughed. I saw her glance above
In sudden shame that I should hear her laugh,
And straightway dropped my eyes upon my book,
And knew, the first time, 'twas Boccaccio's tales,
The Falcon's,–of the lover who for love
Destroyed the best that loved him. Some of us
Do it still, and then we sit and laugh no more.
Laugh you, sweet Marian! you've the right to laugh,
Since God himself is for you, and a child!
For me there's somewhat less,–and so, I sigh.

The heavens were making room to hold the night,
The sevenfold heavens unfolding all their gates
To let the stars out slowly (prophesied
In close-approaching advent, not discerned),
While still the cue-owls from the cypresses
Of the Poggio called and counted every pulse
Of the skyey palpitation. Gradually
The purple and transparent shadows slow
Had filled up the whole valley to the brim,
And flooded all the city, which you saw
As some drowned city in some enchanted sea,
Cut off from nature,–drawing you who gaze,
With passionate desire, to leap and plunge,
And find a sea-king with a voice of waves,
And treacherous soft eyes, and slippery locks
You cannot kiss but you shall bring away
Their salt upon your lips. The duomo-bell
Strikes ten, as if it struck ten fathoms down,
So deep; and fifty churches answer it
The same, with fifty various instances.
Some gaslights tremble along squares and streets
The Pitti's palace-front is drawn in fire:

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The Castle Of Indolence

The castle hight of Indolence,
And its false luxury;
Where for a little time, alas!
We lived right jollily.

O mortal man, who livest here by toil,
Do not complain of this thy hard estate;
That like an emmet thou must ever moil,
Is a sad sentence of an ancient date:
And, certes, there is for it reason great;
For, though sometimes it makes thee weep and wail,
And curse thy star, and early drudge and late;
Withouten that would come a heavier bale,
Loose life, unruly passions, and diseases pale.
In lowly dale, fast by a river's side,
With woody hill o'er hill encompass'd round,
A most enchanting wizard did abide,
Than whom a fiend more fell is no where found.
It was, I ween, a lovely spot of ground;
And there a season atween June and May,
Half prankt with spring, with summer half imbrown'd,
A listless climate made, where, sooth to say,
No living wight could work, ne cared even for play.
Was nought around but images of rest:
Sleep-soothing groves, and quiet lawns between;
And flowery beds that slumbrous influence kest,
From poppies breathed; and beds of pleasant green,
Where never yet was creeping creature seen.
Meantime, unnumber'd glittering streamlets play'd,
And hurled every where their waters sheen;
That, as they bicker'd through the sunny glade,
Though restless still themselves, a lulling murmur made.
Join'd to the prattle of the purling rills
Were heard the lowing herds along the vale,
And flocks loud bleating from the distant hills,
And vacant shepherds piping in the dale:
And, now and then, sweet Philomel would wail,
Or stock-doves plain amid the forest deep,
That drowsy rustled to the sighing gale;
And still a coil the grasshopper did keep;
Yet all these sounds yblent inclined all to sleep.
Full in the passage of the vale, above,
A sable, silent, solemn forest stood;
Where nought but shadowy forms was seen to move,
As Idless fancied in her dreaming mood:
And up the hills, on either side, a wood
Of blackening pines, aye waving to and fro,
Sent forth a sleepy horror through the blood;
And where this valley winded out, below,
The murmuring main was heard, and scarcely heard, to flow.

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War...

war creates fighting that kills everyone...
war creates hate where love should be...
war creates tears that will never dry away...
war creates pain that wont go away...
war creates sadness that wont feel better...
war creates destruction that will take too long to fix...
war blinds us of what’s right or wrong...
war steals us of the right to be happy...
war creates gaps that keep us apart...
war creates a fire you cant put out...
war drops bombs on our hopes and dreams...
war creates children without a father, no one to tuck them in at night...
war makes it hard for a parent to say “everything will be alright” when then don’t even have anyone that they can say “good night”.
war scars a child's mind with things they cant erase...
war makes a good nights sleep a living hell...
war creates nightmares that are never-ending dreams and then, just screams
war creates guilt that eats you alive inside...
war makes you see things that make you scream inside...
war creates scars when all you've seen is blood and more...
war only leaves death when every body drops to the floor...
war creates silence after it ends, so how long till it starts again?
and when all the willing that will fight, die and say their last good night
the war will end, the living will mourn, all for peace but what was it all for? For all those people who died, just so now everyone alive, can do nothing to cope but cry...

Age 14

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