"The fierce poet of the Middle Ages wrote, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here," over the gates of the lower world. The emancipated poets of today have written it over the gates of this world. But if we are to understand the story which follows, we must erase that apocalyptic writing, if only for an hour. We must recreate the faith of our fathers, if only as an artistic atmosphere. If, then, you are a pessimist, in reading this story, forego for a little the pleasures of pessimism. Dream for one mad moment that the grass is green. Unlearn that sinister learning that you think is so clear, deny that deadly knowledge that you think you know. Surrender the very flower of your culture, give up the very jewel of your pride, abandon hopelessness, all ye who enter here."
- G. K. Chesterton
To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That's crudely put, but . . .
If we're not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?
- Gregory Orr
Concerning the Book That Is the Body Of the Beloved
A state you must dare not enter
with hopes of staying,
quicksand in the marshes, and all
the roads leading to a castle
that doesn't exist.
But there it is, as promised,
with its perfect bridge above
and its doors forever open.
- Stephen Dunn
"For our Titanic purposes of faith and revolution, what we need is not the cold acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre's castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening."
- G. K. Chesterton
"I had thought joy to be rather synonymous with happiness, but it seems now to be far less vulnerable than happiness. Joy seems to be a part of an unconditional wish to live, not holding back because life may not meet our preferences and expectations. Joy seems to be a function of the willingness to accept the whole, and to show up to meet with whatever is there. It has a kind of invincibility that attachment to any particular outcome would deny us."
- Rachel Naomi Remen
"Sometimes, contentment is a matter of will. You have to look at what you have right in front of you, at what it could be, and stop measuring it against what you've lost. I know this to be wise and true, just as I know that pretty much no one can do it."
- Jonathan Tropper
This is Where I Leave You
once in a dream I saw a snake swallowing its own
tail, it swallowed and swallowed until
it got halfway round, and there it stopped and
there it stayed, it was stuffed with its own
self. some fix, that.
we only have ourselves to go on, and it's
- Charles Bukowski
from working it out
"But being is making; not only large things, a family, a book, a business; but the shape we give this afternoon, a conversation between friends, a meal."
- Frank Bidart
What makes us leave what we love best?
What is it inside us that keeps erasing itself
When we need it most,
That sends us into uncertainty for its own sake
And holds us flush there
until we begin to love it
And have to begin again?
What is it within our own lives we decline to live
Whenever we find it,
making our days unendurable,
And nights almost visionless?
I still don't know yet, but I do it.
- Charles Wright
"If, before every action, we were to begin by weighing up the consequences, thinking about them in earnest, first the immediate consequences, then the probable, then the possible, then the imaginable ones, we should never move beyond the point where our first thought brought us to a halt. The good and evil resulting from our words and deeds go on apportioning themselves, one assumes in a reasonably uniform and balanced way, throughout all the days to follow, including those endless days, when we shall not be here to find out, to congratulate ourselves or ask for pardon, indeed there are those who claim that this is the much talked of immortality."
- José Saramago