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Archive for the ‘Major Authors’ Category

Old forms and phrases began to have a sense that frightened her.  She had a new feeling, the feeling of danger; on which a new remedy rose to meet it, the idea of an inner self or, in other words, of concealment.  She puzzled out with imperfect signs, but with a prodigious spirit, that she had been a centre of hatred and a messenger of insult, and that everything was bad because she had been employed to make it so.  Her parted lips locked themselves with the determination to be employed no longer.  She would forget everything, she would repeat nothing, and when, as a tribute to the successful application of her system, she began to be called a little idiot, she tasted a pleasure new and keen.  When therefore, as she grew older, [they] in turn announced before her that she had grown shockingly dull, it was not from any real contraction of her little stream of life.  She spoiled their fun, but she practically added to her own.  She saw more and more; she saw too much.

 

~ From What Maisie Knew by Henry James, born on this day in 1843

 

Fritz Zuber-Buhler

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Virtue could see to do what Virtue would

By her own radiant light, though sun and moon

Were in the flat sea sunk.  And Wisdom’s self

Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude,

Where with her best nurse Contemplation

She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings

That in the various bustle of resort

Were all to-ruffled, and sometimes impaired.

 

                                                ~ From Comus by John Milton

 

“Reading Woman” by Ivan Kramskoi, circa 1866

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It was the kind of scene in which Lily had often pictured herself as taking the principal part, and on this occasion the fact that she was once more merely a casual spectator, instead of the mystically veiled figure occupying the centre of attention, strengthened her resolve to assume the latter part before the year was over.  The fact that her immediate anxieties were relieved did not blind her to a possibility of their recurrence; it merely gave her enough buoyancy to rise once more above her doubts and feel a renewed faith in her beauty, her power, and her general fitness to attract a brilliant destiny.  It could not be that one conscious of such aptitudes for mastery and enjoyment was doomed to a perpetuity of failure; and her mistakes looked easily reparable in the light of her restored self-confidence.

 

~ From The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, born on this day in 1862

 

“Edith Wharton” by Edward Harrison May, 1870

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Romance, who loves to nod and sing,

With drowsy head and folded wing,

Among the green leaves as they shake

Far down within some shadowy lake,

To me a painted paroquet

Hath been—a most familiar bird—

Taught me my alphabet to say—

To lisp my very earliest word

While in the wild wood I did lie,

A child—with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal Condor years

So shake the very Heaven on high

With tumult as they thunder by,

I have no time for idle cares

Through gazing on the unquiet sky.

And when an hour with calmer wings

Its down upon my spirit flings—

That little time with lyre and rhyme

To while away—forbidden things!

My heart would feel to be a crime

Unless it trembled with the strings.

 

                           ~ Edgar Allan Poe, born on this day in 1809

 

Edwin Austin Abbey, 1879

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Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.

Nor the woman in the ambulance

Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly –

 

A gift, a love gift

Utterly unasked for

By a sky

 

Palely and flamily

Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes

Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

 

O my god, what am I

That these late mouths should cry open

In a forest of frost, in a dawn of cornflowers.

 

~ Sylvia Plath, born on this day in 1932

 

“Oriental Poppies” by Laura Muntz Lyall (1860-1930)

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Night after night, summer and winter, the torment of storms, the arrow-like stillness of fine weather, held their court without interference.  Listening (had there been anyone to listen) from the upper rooms of the empty house only gigantic chaos streaked with lightning could have been heard tumbling and tossing, as the winds and waves disported themselves like the amorphous bulks of leviathans whose brows are pierced by no light of reason, and mounted one on top of another, and lunged and plunged in the darkness or the daylight (for night and day, month and year ran shapelessly together) in idiot games, until it seemed as if the universe were battling and tumbling, in brute confusion and wanton lust aimlessly by itself.

 

~ Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

 

The Nividic Lighthouse at Ouessant Island (Finistère, France) by Samuel Lamotte d’Incamps, 2005

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Like the ghost of a dear friend dead

     Is Time long past.

A tone which is now forever fled,

A hope which is now forever past,

A love so sweet it could not last,

     Was Time long past.

 

There were sweet dreams in the night

     Of Time long past:

And, was it sadness or delight,

Each day a shadow onward cast

Which made us wish it yet might last –

     That Time long past.

 

There is regret, almost remorse,

     For Time long past.

’Tis like a child’s beloved corse

A father watches, till at last

Beauty is like remembrance, cast

     From Time long past.

 

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

“The Complain of the Watch” by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1770s

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