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Archive for the ‘Favorite Passages’ Category

A Few Moments

Herself, a day, an hour ago; and herself now.  For we have every one of us felt how a very few minutes of the months and years called life, will sometimes suffice to place all time past and future in an entirely new light; will make us see the vanity or the criminality of the by-gone, and so change the aspect of the coming time that we look with loathing on the very thing we have most desired.  A few moments may change our character for life, by giving a totally different direction to our aims and energies.

~ From Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, 1848

 

“The Seamstress” by Joseph DeCamp, 1916

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There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day.  She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places.  She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in.  And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested. 

There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why,—when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation. She could not work on such a day, nor weave fancies to stir her pulses and warm her blood.

 

~ From The Awakening by Kate Chopin, born on this day in 1850

 

"A Willing Captive" by Frederick Stuart Church, 1888

“A Willing Captive” by Frederick Stuart Church, 1888

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Art, especially the stage, is an area where it is impossible to walk without stumbling.  There are in store for you many unsuccessful days and whole unsuccessful seasons: there will be great misunderstandings and deep disappointments…you must be prepared for all this, expect it and nevertheless, stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way.

 

~ Anton Chekhov, born on this day in 1860

 

Osip Braz, 1898

Portrait of Anton Chekhov by Osip Braz, 1898

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reading

With about fourteen unread books on my bedside table currently and countless others on my shelves and must-read lists, I know just how she feels…

 

there were so many books.  she had to separate them to avoid being overwhelmed by the excessive implications of their words.  she kept hundreds in a series of boxes inside a wire cage in a warehouse.  and hundreds more on the shelves of her various rooms.  when she changed houses she would pack some of the books into the boxes and exchange them for others that had been hibernating.  these resurrected books were precious to her for a while.  they had assumed the patinas of dusty chthonic wisdoms.  and thus she would let them sit on the shelves admiring them from a distance.  gathering time and air.  she did not want to be intimate with their insides.  the atmospherics suggested by the titles were enough.  sometimes she would increase the psychic proximities between herself and the books and place a pile of them on the floor next to her bed.  and quite possibly she absorbed their intentions while she slept.

 

~ from “reading” by Joanne Burns

 

Federico Maldarelli, 1862

Federico Maldarelli, 1862

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Welcome, old aspirations, glittering creatures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter underneath the holly!  We know you, and have not outlived you yet.  Welcome, old projects and old loves, however fleeting, to your nooks among the steadier lights that burn around us.  Welcome, all that was ever real to our hearts; and for the earnestness that made you real […].  Welcome, everything!  Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter underneath the holly, to your places round the Christmas fire, where what is sits openhearted!

 

~ Charles Dickens, “What Christmas Is As We Grow Older”

 

Marcel Rieder, 1898

Marcel Rieder, 1898

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For Love

She was bored. She loved, had capacity to love, for love, to give and accept love.  Only she tried twice and failed twice to find somebody not just strong enough to deserve it, earn it, match it, but even brave enough to accept it.

 

~ From The Town by William Faulkner, born on this day in 1897

 

"Solitude" by Frederic Leighton, 1890

“Solitude” by Frederic Leighton, 1890

 

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It is therefore of the utmost importance that those who have any intention of deviating from the beaten roads of life, and requiring a reputation superior to names hourly swept away by time among the refuse of fame, should add to their reason, and their spirit, the power of persisting in their purposes; acquire the art of sapping what they cannot batter, and the habit of vanquishing obstinate resistance by obstinate attacks.

 

~ Samuel Johnson, born on this day in 1709

 

Portrait of Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds, 1775 Johnson's "A Dictionary of the English Language" was published in 1755 and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship."

Portrait of Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds, 1775.  Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language” was published in 1755 and has been described as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship.”

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