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Nov
3rd
Sun
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The present is the instant in which the future crumbles into the past.
Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentine short-story writer, essayist and poet (1899-1986), paraphrased by Susan Sontag in Letter to Borges
Nov
2nd
Sat
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But how carve way i’ the life that lies before,
If bent on groaning ever for the past?”

— Robert Browning, Balaustion’s Adventure, Smith, Elder and co, 1871, p. 140.

The petty done, the undone vast,
This present of theirs with the hopeful
past! (…)

And yet—she has not spoke so long!
What if heaven be that, fair and strong
At life’s best, with our eyes upturn’d
Whither life’s flower is first discern’d,
We, fix’d so, ever should so abide?
What if we still ride on, we two
With life for ever old yet new,
Changed not in kind but in degree,
The instant made eternity

— Robert Browning, The Last Ride Together

“[T]he flowers of the future-in-the-present are far brighter than this southern gaudy melon-flower here and now. (…) [I]t is the pregnancy of the present that makes it meaningful. (…)

Like the bird the poet of this lyric sings twice over so as to recapture the first moment, to bind his day together, to redeem the past from its pastness, to put futurity into the present."

— Clyde de L. Ryals about Browning’s "Home-Thoughts, From Abroad" in Becoming Browning. The Poems and Plays of Robert Browning, 1833-1846, Ohio State University Press, 1983 p. 214
Robert Browning, English poet and playwright (1812-1889)
Jun
1st
Sat
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Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

— Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.
Horace, Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (65BC-8BC), Odes 1.11
Apr
23rd
Tue
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Nature Boy

There was a boy
A very strange, enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far
Very far, over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day,
One magic day he passed my way
While we spoke of many things
Fools and Kings
This he said to me

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.

Eden Ahbez, was an American songwriter and recording artist of the 1940s–1960s, whose lifestyle in California was influential on the hippie movement (1908-1995), Nature Boy (1947) performed by Nat King Cole.

Apr
7th
Sun
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We think not in words but in shadows of words.
Vladimir Nabokov was a Russian-American novelist (1899-1977), Strong Opinions, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Feb 16, 2011.
Apr
6th
Sat
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We say release, and radiance, and roses,
and echo upon everything that’s known;
and yet, behind the world our names enclose is
the nameless: our true archetype and home.
(…)

We grow up; but the world remains a child.
Star and flower, in silence, watch us go.

And sometimes we appear to be the final
exam they must succeed on. And they do.
Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. Rilke is “widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets,” (1875-1926), Selected Poems, translation by Stephen Mitchell
Mar
28th
Thu
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Wrong solitude vinegars the soul,
right solitude oils it.

How fragile we are, between the few good moments.
Jane Hirshfield is an American poet, Vinegar and Oil
Mar
27th
Wed
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Lucretius on the infinite universe, the beginning of things and the likelihood of extraterrestrial life

image

All things [the particles]
move everywhere, always in constant motion—
material stuff is stirred up and supplied
from down below out of infinite space.
This, therefore, is the nature of deep space
and its extent—bright lightning in its course
could not pass through it—though sliding forward
for unending tracts of time, its motion,
as it proceeded, would not diminish
the remaining distance it still had to go.
That shows how much immense space lies open
on all sides for things, free from all limits
everywhere in all directions.
Besides,
nature herself makes sure the universe
cannot set limits to itself—she compels
matter to be enclosed within a void,
and void, in turn, to be bound by matter.

With this reciprocal relationship
she therefore makes the total infinite,
or else one of the two, if the other
did not limit it, in its unmixed form
would then extend out beyond all measure.
[But I have shown above that space spreads out
without limit; thus, matter, too, must be
infinite, for if the void were endless,
and the total sum of matter finite,]
neither sea nor earth nor sky’s bright spaces,
nor mortal races, nor sacred bodies
of the gods could endure for very long,
not even for the short space of an hour,
since, with their combined masses forced apart,
supplies of matter would be carried off
and scattered through huge areas of space,
or what is, in fact, more likely, matter
would never have united and therefore
would never have produced a single thing,
since, in its dispersed condition, it would
be incapable of forming compounds.

For clearly the first particles of things
did not all place themselves in due order
by their own planning or intelligence,
nor did they through some agreement assign
the motions each of them should have. Instead,
since there are many of them and they change
in many ways through all the universe,
they are pushed, energized by collisions,
for a limitless length of time, and then,
having gone through every kind of motion
and combination, they at length fall into
those arrangements which make up and create
this totality of things, which also,
once suitably set in patterned motion,
has been preserved through many lengthy years.
It makes rivers with large flows of water
refresh voracious seas, and earth, once warmed
by sun’s heat, restore what it produces,
races of living creatures grow and thrive,
and, in the aether, gliding fires live on.
There would be no way they could act like this,
unless supplies of matter kept arising
from infinite space, stuff which they then use
to restore, over time, what has been lost.
(…)

Thus, to repeat myself, many particles
must spring up. And yet to be capable
of keeping the number of those impacts
at a sufficient level, there must be
infinite amounts of matter on all sides.
In these things, Memmius, stay far away
from having faith what some people say—
that all matter presses to the centre
of the universe and for this reason
the substance of the world remains in place
without any collisions from outside,
and that the bottom and the top cannot
be forced apart in any direction,
since all matter sinks towards the centre—
if you believe that anything can stand
upon itself—and that all heavy things
on the lower part of earth press upward
and remain there, placed upside down on earth,
just as we now see images of things
in water.
(…)

— I [996-1061] p.45-47.

To start with, we know that in every part,
in all directions and on either side,
above and below and throughout all space,
there is no limit, as I have explained,
and facts themselves announce it on their own—
the nature of deep space is very clear.
Since infinite space lies empty on all sides
and seeds in countless numbers fly around
through the deep universe in various ways,
driven by eternal motion, we must not,
in any way, now think it probable
that only this one sphere of earth and sky
have been created, that beyond us here
all those many particles of matter
do nothing at all, especially since earth
was made by nature. Seeds of things themselves,
jostling freely here and there in various ways
and forced to random, confused collisions,
produced nothing—then finally those ones
suddenly united which could become,
every time, the beginnings of great things,
land, sea, sky, the race of living beings.
And so, to repeat myself, you must grant
that there are other aggregates of matter
similar to this in other places,
which aether clutches in its keen embrace.

Further, when large quantities of matter
are on hand and there is sufficient space,
with no causal factor standing in the way,
we may be sure that things must be produced
and their full development completed.
Now, if supplies of seed are so enormous
that all the years of living animals
could not count the total, and if nature
and the same force remain which could collect
the seeds of matter into every place
in the same way they are thrown together here,
one must grant there are other earthly spheres
in other regions, with different races
of human beings and classes of wild beasts.

Add to this that in the whole universe
no single thing exists all on its own:
nothing is born unique and flourishes
as the single specimen of its kind.
Instead it always belongs to some race,
and those of the same kind are numerous.
If, to begin with, you direct your mind
to living creatures, you will discover
this is true for living varieties
of savage animals which roam the hills,
true for human offspring, and it is true
for mute herds of scaly fish and all bodies
of things which fly. Thus, one must acknowledge,
that, in the same way, sky, land, sun, moon, sea,
and all the other objects which exist
are not unique—instead their quantity
is beyond all counting.

If you grasp these points well and hold to them,
you will see at once that nature is free,
liberated from her proud possessors,
doing all things on her own initiative,
without divinities playing any part.
(…)

— II [1047-1094] p. 89-90.

Since the moment earth was first created,
that day sea, land, and rising sun were born,
many particles have been added on
from areas outside. All around them,
seeds which the immense universe has joined
by hurling them about have been attached.
Because of that, sea and lands could increase,
the mansion of the sky could gain more space
and raise its high roof far above the land,
and air could flow there.
(…)

— II [1103-1112] p. 91.

See also:

How Epicurus’ ideas survived through Lucretius’ poetry, and led to toleration, Lapidarium notes
Lucretius: ‘O unhappy race of men, when they ascribed actions to the gods’
☞ Definitions: Atom, Matter, Universe, Higgs boson, Wiki
Titus Lucretius Carus, a Roman poet and philosopher (ca. 99 BC – ca. 55 BC), De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), translation: Ian Johnston, Richer Resources Publications, Arlington, Virginia, 2010.
Feb
15th
Fri
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Your heart and my heart are very, very old friends.
Hafiz, Persian poet (1325/26–1389/1390), "Your Mother and My Mother"
Dec
9th
Sun
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Nov
4th
Sun
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…Listen,
how your heart pounds inside me.
Wislawa Szymborska, Polish poet, essayist, translator and laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1923-2012), Could Have, in View With a Grain of Sand, trans. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1996.
Jul
16th
Mon
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Capacity of the human mind:

The optimistic position on the capacity of the human mind vis-à-vis the cosmos was nicely summed up by Emily Dickinson. The Brain—is wider than the Sky—,” she wrote sometime around 1862, a generation before Einstein was born:

For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside
Kathryn Schultz, American journalist and author, Book Review: Schulz on Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?, Vulture, July 8, 2012. (tnx johnsparker)
Jul
14th
Sat
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It must be dreams that make us different, must be private cells inside a common skull.
Carol Ann Duffy, British poet and playwright, Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, I Remember Me
Jun
6th
Wed
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…It is the lovers pulling down empty structures.
They wait and touch and watch their dreams
eat the morning.
Amiri Baraka, American writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays, and music criticism, Like Rousseau, Poetry, December 1964.
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In any case a metaphor does not have to be new: in fact the best ones never can be. They are like the language of love, as old as the hills and yet fresh with every new lover. The trick of the poet is to make what seemed feeble, old, dead come back to life. True metaphor is a union like love; perhaps, to use another old metaphor:

a durable fire
In the mind ever burning;
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning.

— From “Pilgrim to Pilgrim,” by Sir Walter Ralegh
Ange Mlinko and Iain McGilchrist, This Is Your Brain On Poetry, Poetry Foundation, Oct 2010.