Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.
It is raining but I don’t believe that it is.
… I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanour was now rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the down express in the small of the back.
Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsichord pavane by Purcell
And the racer’s twelve-speed bike.
The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell’s chords are played away.
So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante’s heaven, and melt into the air.
If it doesn’t, of course, I’ve fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsichordists prove
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.
The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.
Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.
There is no good in arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.
Tobacco, coffee, alcohol, hashish, prussic acid, strychnine, are weak dilutions; the surest poison is time.
This is slavery, not to speak one’s thought.
A Barred Owl
The warping night-air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”
Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.
Poetry must be new as foam, and as old as the rock.
The earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God, but only those with eyes to see take off their shoes, the rest sit around and pluck blackberries.
People are self-centered
to a nauseous degree.
They will keep on about themselves
while I’m explaining me.
Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.
It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you waggle your ears?
said to H.G. Wells.
Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.
I shall make it simple so you understand.
Making it simple will make it clear for me.
When you have read it, take me by the hand
As children do, loving simplicity.
This is the simple poem I have made.
Tell me you understand. But when you do
Don’t ask me in return if I have said
All that I meant, or whether it is true.
My sources are unreliable, but their information is fascinating.
There were 183 of us freshmen, and a bowling ball hanging from the three – story ceiling to just above the floor. Feynman walked in and, without a word, grabbed the ball and backed against the wall with the ball touching his nose. He let go, and the ball swung slowly 60 feet across the room and back – stopping naturally just short of crushing his face. Then he took the ball again, stepped forward, and said: “I wanted to show you that I believe in what I’m going to teach you over the next two years.”
Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels fastest who travels alone.
If not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.
Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.
Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.
This is where I came from.
I passed this way.
This should not be shameful
Or hard to say.
A self is a self.
It is not a screen.
A person should respect
What he has been.
This is my past
Which I shall not discard.
This is the ideal.
This is hard.
A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.
One doesn’t have to play well, it’s enough to play better than your opponent.
Halfway Street, Sidcup
We did sums at school, Mummy –
You do them like this: look – I showed her.
It turned out she knew already .
No one is so old that he cannot live yet another year, nor so young that he cannot die today.
The fact is that poetry is not the books in the library . . . Poetry is the encounter of the reader with the book, the discovery of the book.
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.