Posts Tagged 'life'

The Oak Leaves by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Oak Leaves

Yet in the end, defeated too, worn out and ready to fall,
Hangs from the drowsy tree with cramped and desperate stem above the ditch the last leaf of all.

There is something to be learned, I guess, from looking at the dead leaves under the living tree;
Something to be set to a lusty tune and learned and sung, it well might be;
Something to be learned–though I was ever a ten-o’clock scholar at this school–
Even perhaps by me.

But my heart goes out to the oak-leaves that are the last to sigh “Enough,” and lose their hold;
They have boasted to the nudging frost and to the two-and-thirty winds that they would never die,
Never even grow old.
(These are those russet leaves that cling
All winter, even into the spring,
To the dormant bough, in the wood knee-deep in the snow the only colored thing.

Millay, Edna St. Vincent. Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: Harper, 1939.

The Anguish by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Anguish

I would to God I were quenched and fed
As in my youth
From the flask of song, and the good bread
Of beauty richer than truth.

The anguish of the world is on my tongue.
My bowl is filled to the brim with it; there is more than I can eat.
Happy are the toothless old and the toothless young,
That cannot rend this meat.

Millay, Edna St. Vincent. Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: Harper, 1939.

Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin – II

If you meet life squarely, you are likely to make mistakes, do things you wish you hadn’t, say things you wish you could retract or phrase more felicitously, and, in short, fumble your way along. Those “mature” people whose lives are even without a single sour note or a single mistake, who never fumble, manage only at the cost of original thought and original action. They do without the successes as well as the failures.

Panshin, Alexei. Rite of Passage. Boston: Gregg, 1976.

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman – IV

In our world no one ever knows what to do, and everyone’s just as clueless and full of crap as everyone else, and you have to figure it all out by yourself. And even after you’ve figured it out and done it, you’ll never know whether you were right or wrong. You’ll never know if you put the ring in the right volcano, or if things might have gone better if you hadn’t. There’s no answers in the back of the book.

Grossman, Lev. The Magician’s Land: A Novel. New York: Viking, 2014.

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman – III

It was funny how just when you thought you knew yourself through and through, you stumbled on a new kind of strength, a fresh reserve of power inside you that you never knew you had, and all at once you found yourself burning a little brighter and hotter than you ever had before.

Grossman, Lev. The Magician’s Land: A Novel. New York: Viking, 2014.

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman – II

Never risking anything meant never having or doing or being anything either. Life is risk, it turned out.

Grossman, Lev. The Magician’s Land: A Novel. New York: Viking, 2014.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – II

Time goes faster the more hollow it is. Lives with no meaning go straight past you, like trains that don’t stop at your station.

 

Zafón, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind. Trans. Lucia Graves. New York: Penguin, 2004.

Orthodoxy by G K Chesterton – I

Here I am only trying to describe the enormous emotions which cannot be described. And the strongest emotion was that life was as precious as it was puzzling. It was an ecstasy because it was an adventure; it was an adventure because it was an opportunity.

On Traveling to Beautiful Places by Mary Oliver

Every day I’m still looking for God
and I’m still finding him everywhere,
in the dust, in the flowerbeds.
Certainly in the oceans,
In the islands that lay in the distance
Continents of ice, countries of sand
Each with its own set of creatures
And God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
Maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it’s late, for all of us,
And in truth the only ship there is
Is the ship we are all on
Burning the world as we go.

 

Oliver, Mary. “On Traveling to Beautiful Places.” A Thousand Mornings. New York: Penguin, 2012. 67.

It Couldn’t Be Done by Edgar Albert Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

Gardner, Martin. “It Couldn’t Be Done.” Best Remembered Poems. New York: Dover Publications, 1992.