Melancholy Quotes

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In the course of reading he became more and more melancholy and finally became completely gloomy. When the reading was over he uttered in a voice full of sorrow: "Goodness, how sad is our Russia!"
The sea of faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world.
"Most musical, most melancholy" bird! A melancholy bird! Oh! idle thought! In nature there is nothing melancholy. But some night-wandering man, whose heart was pierced With the remembrance of a grievous wrong, Or slow distemper, or neglected love, (And so, poor wretch! filled all things with himself, And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale Of his own sorrow) he, and such as he, First named these notes a melancholy strain.
And that dismal cry rose slowly And sank slowly through the air, Full of spirit's melancholy And eternity's despair; And they heard the words it said,— "Pan is dead! great Pan is dead! Pan, Pan is dead!"
"Most musical, most melancholy" bird! A melancholy bird! Oh! idle thought! In nature there is nothing melancholy.
• Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Nightingale, line 13.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Nightingales" (Sourced, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 557-59.)
During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.
During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.
Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.
• Wellington—Despatch. (1815). Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 841-60.
• Source: Wikiquote: "War" (Quotes: Quotes are listed alphabetically by author., W)
Old ocean's gray and melancholy waste.
Fish not with this melancholy bait, For this fool-gudgeon, this opinion.
Fish not, with this melancholy bait, For this fool-gudgeon, this opinion.
• William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (c. 1596-98), Act I, scene 1.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Fishing" (Sourced)
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all, Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,— Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man.
All things that we ordained festival, Turn from their office to black funeral; Our instruments to melancholy bells, Our wedding cheer to a sad burial feast, Our solemn hymns to sullen dirges change, Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse, And all things change them to the contrary.
• William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (1597), Act IV, scene 5, line 84.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Change" (Sourced, S)
Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden.
The spirit that I have seen May be the devil: and the devil hath power To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps Out of my weakness and my melancholy, As he is very potent with such spirits, Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds More relative than this: the play 's the thing Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
But when the melancholy fit shall fall Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud, That fosters the droop-headed flowers all, And hides the green hill in an April shroud; Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose.
Now, the melancholy god protect thee; and the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal.
• William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (c. 1601-02), Act II, scene 4, line 74.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Mind" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 513-16.)
He is of a very melancholy disposition.
Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly, Most musical, most melancholy!
When lovely woman stoops to folly, And finds too late that men betray, What charm can soothe her melancholy? What art can wash her guilt away?
Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.
• Ray Bradbury (1953) Fahrenheit 451 p. 61
• Source: Wikiquote: "Sociology" (Quotes: Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author, A - F)
It is very strange, and very melancholy, that the paucity of human pleasures should persuade us ever to call hunting one of them.
And melancholy is the nurse of frenzy.
• William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew (c. 1593-94), Induction, scene 2, line 135.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Melancholy" (Quotes)
Melancholy, indeed, should be diverted by every means but drinking.
The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year, Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
She dwells with Beauty — Beauty that must die; And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh, Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips. Ay, in the very temple of Delight Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine; His soul shall taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
Moping melancholy And moon-struck madness.
Moping melancholy, And moon-struck madness.
I can suck melancholy out of a song.
Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly, Most musical, most melancholy! Thee, chauntress, oft, the woods among, I woo, to hear thy even-song.
• John Milton, Il Penseroso (1631), line 61.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Nightingales" (Sourced, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 557-59.)
This melancholy London. I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air.
"To what request for what strange boon," he said, "Are these your pretty tricks and fooleries, O Vivien, the preamble? yet my thanks, For these have broken up my melancholy."
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown. Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth. And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth, A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown; Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth, And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Panic in Wall Street, brokers feeling melancholy.
The greatest note of it is his melancholy.
There's not a string attuned to mirth But has its chord in melancholy.
It is a melancholy truth that even great men have their poor relations.
They say that no one's gonna play this on the radio They said the melancholy blues were dead and gone But only songs like these Played in minor keys Keep those memories holding on.
My heart is broken by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.
How melancholy a thing is success. Whilst failure inspirits a man, attainment reads the sad prosy lesson that all our glories "Are shadows, not substantial things." Truly said the sayer, "disappointment is the salt of life" a salutary bitter which strengthens the mind for fresh exertion, and gives a double value to the prize.
He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet's soul. Melancholy was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought, but it was a melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and simple joy. If he could give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men would listen.
Depression is melancholy minus its charms—the animation, the fits.
• Susan Sontag (1933–2004), American philosopher and essayist. Illness as Metaphor, ch. 7 (1978).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Depression" (Quotes)
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace, Brought from a pensive though a happy place.
All my joys to this are folly Naught so sweet as melancholy.
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace, Brought from a pensive, though a happy place.
• William Wordsworth, Laodamia.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Beauty" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 57-63.)
All my joys to this are folly, Naught so sweet as melancholy.
The gloomy comparisons of a disturbed imagination, the melancholy madness of poetry without the inspiration.
• Junius, To Sir W. Draper, Letter No, VIII.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Style" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 758-59.)
By heaven, I do love: and it hath taught me to rhyme, and to be melancholy.
Who pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood With that grim ferryman which poets write of, Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
O sovereign mistress of true melancholy, The poisonous damp of night disponge upon me, That life, a very rebel to my will, May hang no longer on me.
Venerate four characters: the sanguine who has checked volatility and the rage for pleasure; the choleric who has subdued passion and pride; the phlegmatic emerged from indolence; and the melancholy who has dismissed avarice, suspicion and asperity.
Melancholy and remorse form the deep leaden keel which enables us to sail into the wind of reality; we run aground sooner than the flat-bottomed pleasure-lovers but we venture out in weather that would sink them and we choose our direction.
He produced a work of art which by its deep appreciation of natural beauty and the melancholy tenderness of its treatment of the ancient legend did more than any single work to bring about the romantic movement in European, and especially in German, literature.
It is a melancholy truth; yet such is the blessed effect of civilization! the most respectable women are the most oppressed; and, unless they have understandings far superiour to the common run of understandings, taking in both sexes, they must, from being treated like contemptible beings, become contemptible.
In American literature she will remain a remarkable biographic phenomenon, while the tragic death of this Lycidas of women, a most painful personal story of shipwreck, was intensified by so many melancholy incidents that whoever, long years hence, may read them, will wonder how the gods could have been so pitiless, and why the life of new happiness and larger intellectual achievement which was before her should so suddenly have ended upon that savage and inhospitable shore.
The work is an absolute necessity for me. I can't put it off, I don't care for anything but the work; that is to say, the pleasure in something else ceases at once and I become melancholy when I can't go on with my work. Then I feel like a weaver who sees that his threads are tangled, and the pattern he had on the loom is gone to hell, and all his thought and exertion is lost.
Vincent van Gogh
• As quoted in Stranger on the Earth : A Psychological Biography of Vincent Van Gogh (1996) by Albert J. Lubin, p. 22
 • As quoted in Dear Theo: the Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh (1995) edited by Irving Stone and Jean Stone, p. 204
• Source: Wikiquote: "Vincent van Gogh" (Quotes)
An American has a stronger sympathy with this country than any other observer, and nourished as he is in the very bosom of liberty, he cannot but be deeply afflicted to see that in almost every event, this struggle must terminate in despotism. Yet such is the melancholy spectacle, which presents itself to my mind, and with which it has long been occupied. I eanestly wish and pray, that events may prove all my reasonings to have been fallacious, and all my apprehensions vain. I am, &c.
A heart without music is like beauty without melancholy.
Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow, Or by the lazy Scheldt, or wandering Po.
All my griefs to this are jolly, Naught so damn'd as melancholy.
Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach.
Saturn seems to have impressed the seal of melancholy on me from the beginning.
These are the gloomy comparisons of a disturbed imagination; the melancholy madness of poetry, without the inspiration.
• Junius, Letter VIII, To Sir W. Draper.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Imagination" (Quotes: Alphabetized by author or source , Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 386-87.)
Forc'd from their homes, a melancholy train, To traverse climes beyond the western main; Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around, And Niagara stuns with thundering sound.
Beheld the duteous son, the sire decayed, The modest matron, and the blushing maid, Forc'd from their homes, a melancholy train, To traverse climes beyond the Western main.
Questo misero modo Tengon l'anime triste di coloro Che visser senza infamia e senza lodo. This sorrow weighs upon the melancholy souls of those who lived without infamy or praise.
• Dante Alighieri, Inferno, III. 36.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Life" (Anonymous, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 440-55.)
I love to see the old heath's withered brake Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling, While the old heron from the lonely lake Starts slow and flaps its melancholy wing
Melancholy and despair, though often, do not always concur; there is much difference: melancholy fears without a cause, this upon great occasion; melancholy is caused by fear and grief, but this torment procures them and all extremity of bitterness.
Robert Burton
• Section 4, member 2, subsection 3, Causes of Despair, the Devil, Melancholy, Meditation, Distrust, Weakness of Faith, Rigid Ministers, Misunderstanding Scriptures, Guilty Consciences, etc.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Robert Burton" (Quotes, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part III)
She never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek; she pin'd in thought, And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief.
And what is more melancholy than the old apple-trees that linger about the spot where once stood a homestead, but where there is now only a ruined chimney rising out of a grassy and weed-grown cellar? They offer their fruit to every wayfarer—apples that are bitter-sweet with the moral of time's vicissitude.
• Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an Old Manse, The Old Manse, "Time's vicissitude".
• Source: Wikiquote: "Apples" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 37-38.)
The distant dogs howled, the melancholy kine complained, and the winds went on raging, whilst furious sheets of rain drove along the roof; but the Majesty of England slept on, undisturbed, and the calf did the same, it being a simple creature, and not easily troubled by storms or embarrassed by sleeping with a king.
Then fell on Merlin a great melancholy; He walked with dreams and darkness, and he found A doom that ever poised itself to fall, An ever-moaning battle in the mist, World-war of dying flesh against the life, Death in all life and lying in all love, The meanest having power upon the highest, And the high purpose broken by the worm.
Who does not see that we are likely to ascertain the distinctive significance of religious melancholy and happiness, or of religious trances, far better by comparing them as conscientiously as we can with other varieties of melancholy, happiness, and trance, than by refusing to consider their place in any more general series, and treating them as if they were outside of nature's order altogether?
I hated Kerner, and one day I met him and we became friends. He was young and gloriously melancholy because his spirits were so high and life had so much in store for him. Yes, he was almost riotously sad. That was his youth. When a man begins to be hilarious in a sorrowful way you can bet a million that he is dyeing his hair.
Gentlemen, the melancholy event of yesterday reads to us an awful lesson against being too much troubled about any of the objects of ordinary ambition. The worthy gentleman, who has been snatched from us at the moment of the election, and in the middle of contest, whilst his desires were as warm, and his hopes as eager as ours, has feelingly told us, what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue.
Suspicions amongst thoughts, are like bats amongst birds, they ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed, or at least well guarded: for they cloud the mind; they leese friends; and they check with business, whereby business cannot go on currently and constantly. They dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men to irresolution and melancholy. They are defects, not in the heart, but in the brain; for they take place in the stoutest natures.
Now the last hookah has gone out, and the most restless of our servants has turned in. The roof of the cabin is strewed with bodies anything but fragrant, indeed, we cannot help pitying the melancholy fate of poor Morpheus, who is traditionally supposed to encircle such sleepers with his soft arms. Could you believe it possible that through such a night as this they choose to sleep under those wadded cotton coverlets, and dread not instantaneous asphixiation?
If ever there was a book calculated to make a man in love with its author, this appears to me to be the book. She speaks of her sorrows, in a way that fills us with melancholy, and dissolves us in tenderness, at the same time that she displays a genius which commands all our admiration. Affliction had tempered her heart to a softness, almost more than human; and the gentleness of her spirit seems precisely to accord with all the romance of unbounded attachment.
The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance and continual reasonings with each other … is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been formed with seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist.
• Benjamin Franklin, debates in the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 28, 1787. James Madison, Journal of the Federal Convention, ed. E. H. Scott, p. 259 (1893).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Government" (Quotes, Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989))
It is a greatness not of mere body and gigantic bulk, but a rude greatness of soul. There is a sublime uncomplaining melancholy traceable in these old hearts. A great free glance into the very deeps of thought. They seem to have seen, these brave old Northmen, what Meditation has taught all men in all ages, That this world is after all but a show,—a phenomenon or appearance, no real thing. All deep souls see into that,—the Hindoo Mythologist, the German Philosopher,—the Shakspeare, the earnest Thinker, wherever he may be.
Employment, sir, and hardships prevent melancholy.
Employment, sir, and hardships, prevent melancholy.
Espousing the melancholy of ancient symbols, I would have freed myself.
Vague a l'ame — melancholy yearning for the end of the world.
The melancholy ghosts of dead renown, Whispering faint echoes of the world's applause.
• Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IX.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Echo" (Sourced, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 215.)
Melancholy redeems this universe, and yet it is melancholy that separates us from it.
Philosophy offers an antidote to melancholy. And many still believe in the depth of philosophy!
The man must have a rare recipe for melancholy, who can be dull in Fleet Street.
I kept.. ..returning to the (ancient Roman) wall paintings with their veiled melancholy and elegant plasticity.
I pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood, With that grim ferryman which poets write of, Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
Hence, loathèd Melancholy, Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born, In Stygian cave forlorn, 'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy.
In order to deceive melancholy, you must keep moving. Once you stop, it wakens, if in fact it has ever dozed off.
O melancholy! Who ever yet could sound thy bottom? find The ooze, to show what coast thy sluggish crare Might easiliest harbour in?
The refutation of suicide: is it not inelegant to abandon a world which has so willingly put itself at the service of our melancholy?
Hence, all you vain delights, As short as are the nights Wherein you spend your folly! There's naught in this life sweet But only melancholy; O sweetest melancholy!
I replace melancholy by courage, doubt by certainty, despair by hope, malice by good, complaints by duty, scepticism by faith, sophisms by cool equanimity and pride by modesty.
All the world's a mass of folly, Youth is gay, age melancholy: Youth is spending, age is thrifty, Mad at twenty, cold at fifty; Man is nought but folly's slave, From the cradle to the grave.
• William Henry Ireland, Modern Ship of Fools (Of the Folly of all the World).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Youth" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 921-24.)
That was the worst of Dr Reilly. You never knew whether he was joking or not. He always said things in the same slow melancholy way — but half the time there was a twinkle underneath it.
O you had loved her sitting there, Half hidden in her loosen'd hair: Why, you had loved her for her eyes, Their large and melancholy look Of tenderness, and well mistook Their love for light of Paradise.
My poor health was matched, as it often is when one is sick, by my poor mood. A deep melancholy often overtook me, and at times I asked myself whether life was worth the trouble of living.
To the seeker after the new, or the sensational, to those who expect a sinister frisson from modern music, it is my melancholy duty to point out that all the bomb throwing and guillotining has already taken place.
Sing of the nature of women, and then the song shall be surely full of variety; old crotchets and most sweet closes. It shall be humorous, grave, fantastic, amorous, melancholy, sprightly, one in all, and all in one.
Clive was a man of the same type as Cromwell or Bunyan, or, for the matter of that, Johnson—that is, he was a strong, sensible man with a kind of running spring of hysteria and melancholy in him.
If you want to be thought anything of amongst Englishmen, you must make yourself see their point of view. They don't care for melancholy people, and have a contempt for sentiment. This applies to love as well as to patriotism and religion.
Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul.
Without their tiger gods, the tribe declined into fear and melancholy and begged her to allow them to worship her instead, only to be rejected with contempt; for what good would their worship do her? she asked. It had done nothing for the tigers.
All our anxieties relate to time. … The major problems of psychiatry revolve around an analysis of the despair, pessimism, melancholy, and complexes that are the inheritances of what has been or with the fears, anxieties, worries, that are the imaginings of what will be.
Music is a means capable of expressing dark dramatism and pure rapture, suffering and ecstasy, fiery and cold fury, melancholy and wild merriment – and the subtlest nuances and interplay of these feelings which words are powerless to express and which are unattainable in painting and sculpture.
It is a melancholy but an undoubted fact, that, even in the most thriving countries, part of the population annually dies of mere want. Not that all who perish from want absolutely die of hunger; though this calamity is of more frequent occurrence than is generally supposed.
Jean-Baptiste Say
• Book II, On Distribution, Chapter XI, Section I, p. 372-373
• Source: Wikiquote: "Jean-Baptiste Say" (Quotes, A Treatise On Political Economy (Fourth Edition) (1832): A Treatise On Political Economy: or the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth. by Jean Baptiste Say. Translated from the Fourth Edition of the French by C.R. Prinsep, M.A. With Notes by the Translator. (Sixth American Edition), Book II)
I am so often accused of gloominess and melancholy. And I think I'm probably the most cheerful man around. I don't consider myself a pessimist at all. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel completely soaked to the skin.
As the romance of manned space exploration has waned, the drive today is to find our living, thinking counterparts in the universe. For all the excitement, however, the search betrays a profound melancholy – a lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence.
Orsino: And what’s her history? Viola: A blank, my lord. She never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek: she pin'd in thought, And, with a green and yellow melancholy, She sat like Patience on a monument, Smiling at grief.
I shall speak of … how melancholy and utopia preclude one another. How they fertilize one another … Of the revulsion that follows one insight and precedes the next … Of superabundance and surfeit. Of stasis and progress. And of myself, for whom melancholy and utopia are heads and tails of the same coin.
There exists, I grant you, a clinical depression, upon which certain remedies occasionally have effect; but there exists another kind, a melancholy underlying our very outbursts of gaiety and accompanying us everywhere, without leaving us alone for a single moment. And there is nothing that can rid us of this lethal omnipresence: the self forever confronting itself.
The nature of this melancholy becomes clearer, once one asks the question, with whom does the historical writer of historicism actually empathize. The answer is irrefutably with the victor. Those who currently rule are however the heirs of all those who have ever been victorious. Empathy with the victors thus comes to benefit the current rulers every time.
Melancholic and lovable is the trick, right? You've got to be able to show that you have these feelings. In the game of life, you get these feelings and how you deal with those feelings. What you do when you are trying to deal with a melancholy. A melancholy can be sweet. It's not a mean thing, but it's something that happens in life — like autumn.
Whate'er you are, That in this desert inaccessible, Under the shade of melancholy boughs, Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time; If ever you have look’d on better days, If ever been where bells have knoll’d to church, If ever sat at any good man’s feast, If ever from your eyelids wip'd a tear, And know what 'tis to pity and be pitied — Let gentleness my strong enforcement be.
I have heard from persons in pursuits different from yours — from the lawyer, from the congressman, from the editor, not to mention others, each, with a strange kind of melancholy vanity, claiming for his vocation the distinction of affording the surest inlets to the conviction that man is no better than he should be. All of which testimony, if reliable, would, by mutual corroboration, justify some disturbance in a good man's mind.
Optimism is the parent of despair, while pessimism allows the mind to accustom itself to the inevitable disappointments of human existence by degrees, just as some drugs induce a state of tolerance. Pessimists, moreover, have the better sense of humour, for they have a livelier apprehension of pretension and absurdity. In a meritocracy, furthermore, those who fail must either indulge in elaborate mental contortions to disguise reality from themselves or sink into a deep melancholy.
Let Winter come! let polar spirits sweep The darkening world, and tempest-troubled deep! Though boundless snows the withered heath deform, And the dim sun scarce wanders through the storm, Yet shall the smile of social love repay, With mental light, the melancholy day! And, when its short and sullen noon is o'er, The ice-chained waters slumbering on the shore, How bright the fagots in his little hall Blaze on the hearth, and warm the pictured wall!
I'd like to combine melancholy and sunshine.. ..There's a sadness in Provence which no one has expressed; Poussin would have shown it in terms of some tomb, underneath the poplars of the Alyscamps.. .. I'd like to put reason in the grass and tears in the sky, like Poussin.. ..You really need to see and feel your subject very clearly, and then If I express myself with distinction and power, there's my Poussin, there's my classicism..
Paul Cézanne
• p. 211 in: 'What he told me – III. The Studio'
• Source: Wikiquote: "Paul Cézanne" (Quotes, Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne, - a Memoir with Conversations, (1897 - 1906): Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne, - a Memoir with Conversations, (1897 - 1906); Thames and Hudson, London 1991)
When Cain was driven from Jehovah's land He wandered eastward, seeking some far strand Ruled by kind gods who asked no offerings Save pure field-fruits, as aromatic things, To feed the subtler sense of frames divine That lived on fragrance for their food and [wine]]: Wild joyous gods, who winked at faults and folly, And could be pitiful and melancholy. He never had a doubt that such gods were; He looked within, and saw them mirrored there.
It is a curious truth — and yet a truth forced upon us by daily observation — that it is not the women who have suffered most who are the unhappy women. A state of permanent unhappiness — not the morbid, half-cherished melancholy of youth, which generally wears off with wiser years, but that settled, incurable discontent and dissatisfaction with all things and all people, which we see in some women, is, with very rare exceptions, at once the index and the exponent of a thoroughly selfish character.
To be misunderstood even by those whom one loves is the cross and bitterness of life. It is the secret of that sad and melancholy smile on the lips of great men which so few understand; it is the cruelest trial reserved for self-devotion; it is what must have oftenest wrung the heart of the Son of man; and if God could suffer, it would be the wound we should be forever inflicting upon Him. He also — He above all — is the great misunderstood, the least comprehended.
She felt a nausea of the soul, a hideous and sickening despair, a melancholy weariness so profound that she was going to die of it. Her last conscious thought was disgust at life; her senses had lied to her. The world was not made of energy and delight but of foulness, betrayal, and lassitude. Living was hateful, and death was no better, and from end to end of the universe this was the first and last and only truth. Thus she stood, bow in hand, indifferent, dead in life.
Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.
In looking back, with our present experience, we are driven to the melancholy conclusion that, instead of diminishing the number of wars, ecclesiastical influence has actually and very seriously increased it. We may look in vain for any period since Constantine, in which the clergy, as a body, exerted themselves to repress the military spirit, or to prevent or abridge a particular war, with an energy at all comparable to that which they displayed in stimulating the fanaticism of the crusaders, in producing the atrocious massacre of the Albigenses, in embittering the religious contests that followed the Reformation.
I take unceasing delight in Chaucer. His manly cheerfulness is especially delicious to me in my old age. How exquisitely tender he is, and yet how perfectly free from the least touch of sickly melancholy or morbid drooping! The sympathy of the poet with the subjects of his poetry is particularly remarkable in Shakspeare and Chaucer; but what the first effects by a strong act of imagination and mental metamorphosis, the last does without any effort, merely by the inborn kindly joyousness of his nature. How well we seem to know Chaucer! How absolutely nothing do we know of Shakspeare!
On the first occasion she had sat next Henry James at dinner, she had not been able to resist putting to him certain questions about his books, for she had been a lifelong admirer of them, and that, at last, after he had answered some of these murmured inquiries, he had turned his melancholy gaze upon her, and had said to her, "Can it be— it must be— that you are that embodiment of the incorporeal, the elusive yet ineluctable being to whom through the generations novelists have so unavailingly made invocation; in short, the Gentle Reader? I have often wondered in what guise you would appear or, as it were, what incarnation you would assume."
He was drawn to the centers of learning to announce his startling philosophy; from most he was curtly expelled... He was contradictory, capricious, often insufferable: his moods could flash abruptly from antic lampooning to raw invective, from wild exhilaration to fierce bitterness, from clownishness to a blackdog melancholy. "Gay in sorrow, sorrowful in gaiety," he said of himself, and the contraries of the tempestuous Bruno survive in his writings, where exalted and discerning passages seem to bob and dip in great waves of bombast... Controversial and largely dismissed in his lifetime, Bruno fared no better after his death. If his ideas were disputed, so was his martyrdom. For centuries, rumor and doubt shrouded the terrible fire in the Campo dei Fiore and as late as 1885 there are references to the "legends" of Bruno's burning at the stake... Only in the twentieth century has Bruno begun emerging from his long neglect into prominence.
As melancholy as an unbraced drum.
Melancholy: when we have sorrows without a name.
Aristotle said melancholy men of all others are most witty.
We may smile at these matters, but they are melancholy illustrations.
Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow, Or by the lazy Scheld or wandering Po!
• Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller (1764), line 1, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Rivers" (Sourced, Specific rivers: For the Nile River, see Nile; for the Rhine, see Rhine.)
Melancholy Is not, as you conceive, indisposition Of body, but the mind's disease.
Aristotle said * * * melancholy men of all others are most witty.
• Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section III. Memb. 1. Subsect. 3.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Wit" (Quotes)
The melancholy thing in our public life is the insane desire to get higher.
Tell us, pray, what devil This melancholy is, which can transform Men into monsters.
Sardinians as a race are prone to a very non latin, almost celtic wistfulness and melancholy.
The setting sun as usual shed a melancholy effulgence on the ruddy towers of the Alhambra.
• Washington Irving in: ''[ The Alhambra]'', G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1889, p. 510.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Effulgence" (Quotes: [[File:Mount_Hood_reflected_in_Mirror_Lake,_Oregon.jpg|right|thumb|Vain is the hope by colouring to display The bright effulgence of the noon-tide ray, Or paint the full-orb'd Ruler of the skies With pencils dipp'd in dull terrestrial dyes : But when mild Evening sheds her golden light; When Morn appears array'd modest white. - Du Fresnoy.]])
And taste The melancholy joy of evils past: For he who much has suffer'd, much will know.
And taste The melancholy joys of evils pass'd, For he who much has suffer'd, much will know.
• Homer, The Odyssey, Book XV, line 434. Pope's translation.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Suffering" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 762-63.)
The melancholy days have come, the saddest of the year, Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sear.
• William Cullen Bryant, The Death of the Flowers.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Fall" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 51-53.)
Thus falling, falling from afar, As if some melancholy star Had mingled with her light her sighs, And dropped them from the skies.
Much melancholy has devolved upon mankind, and it is detestable to me that might will triumph in the end ... Art must not serve might.
And the Sabbath bell, That over wood and wild and mountain dell Wanders so far, chasing all thoughts unholy With sounds most musical, most melancholy.
• Samuel Rogers, Human Life, line 517.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Bells" (, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 67-69.)
Panic in Wall Street, brokers feeling melancholy. Good times coming. Good times have come. Listening to the strains of genuine negro ragtime, brokers forget their cares.
Or where the Northern ocean, in vast whirls, Boils round the naked melancholy isles Of farthest Thulè, and th' Atlantic surge Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.
Melancholy sees the worst of things,—things as they may be, and not as they are. It looks upon a beautiful face, and sees but a grinning skull.
• Christian Nestell Bovee, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought (1862), Volume II, p. 52.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Melancholy" (Quotes)
Go—you may call it madness, folly, You shall not chase my gloom away. There's such a charm in melancholy, I would not, if I could, be gay!
• Samuel Rogers, To——, Stanza 1. reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Melancholy" (Quotes)
Considering his position he became wonderfully free from the chronic melancholy which is taking hold of the civilized races with the decline of belief in a beneficent Power.
In periods that are wanting in inspiration piety always assumes the character of caution. It degenerates from a free and joyful devotion to a melancholy and anxious slavery.
• J. H. Seelye, p. 452.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Piety" (Quotes, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895): Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).)
I shall endeavour to discharge my duty to society, considering myself only as the citizen, moved by the melancholy necessity of taking up arms for the public safety.
Go! you may call it madness, folly; You shall not chase my gloom away! There 's such a charm in melancholy I would not if I could be gay.
For many years I was the youngest among my mathematical friends. It makes me melancholy to realize that I now have become the oldest in most groups of scientists.
In Quintilian’s expositions there appears a note of melancholy when he discovers that toward the decline of life, the ratio sneaks in gradually, choking up insight into the original.
There is no species of poetry which is better adapted to the taste of a melancholy man than a sonnet. Its brevity precludes the possibility of it becoming tiresome.
Warm lights are on the sleepy uplands waning Beneath dark clouds along the horizon rolled, Till the slant sunbeams through the fringes raining Bathe all the hills in melancholy gold.
Down where yon anch'ring vessel spreads the sail, That, idly waiting, flaps with every gale, Downward they move, a melancholy band, Pass from the shore and darken all the strand.
With eyes up-raised, as one inspired, Pale Melancholy sate retired, And from her wild sequestered seat, In notes by distance made more sweet, Poured thro' the mellow horn her pensive soul.
William Collins
• Line 57. Compare: "Sweetest melodies / Are those that are by distance made more sweet", William Wordsworth, Personal Talk, stanza 2.
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Collins" (Sourced, ''The Passions, an Ode for Music (1747))
With eyes upraised, as one inspired, Pale Melancholy sate retired; And, from her wild, sequester'd seat, In notes by distance made more sweet, Pour'd through the mellow horn her pensive soul.
All green was vanished save of pine and yew, That still displayed their melancholy hue; Save the green holly with its berries red, And the green moss that o'er the gravel spread.
Even after making up one's mind to the sacrifices I had decided upon, there is always left a trace of envy for those who have triumphed in the melancholy struggle for literary supremacy.
It is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and, indeed, the sundry contemplation of my travels, which, by often rumination, wraps me in a most humorous sadness.
Thou little bird, thou dweller by the sea, Why takest thou its melancholy voice, And with that boding cry Why o'er the waves dost fly? O, rather, bird, with me Through the fair land rejoice!
Thou little bird, thou dweller by the sea, Why takest thou its melancholy voice, And with that boding cry Along the waves dost thou fly? Oh! rather, bird, with me Through this fair land rejoice!
• Richard Henry Dana, The Little Beach Bird, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 57.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Birds" (Quotes, Birds, generally)
Hence, all you vain delights, As short as are the nights Wherein you spend your folly! There's nought in this life sweet, If man were wise to see 't, But only melancholy, Oh, sweetest melancholy!
• Dr. Strode, Song in Praise of Melancholy. As given in Malone's Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Manuscript No. 21. It appears in Dr. Strode's play, The Floating Island. Attributed to Fletcher, who inserted it in The Nice Valour, Act III, scene 3.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Melancholy" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 505-06.)
He looked around the landscape. Drenched in the golden haze of late afternoon it seemed wonderfully tranquil and beautiful, though permeated with a sense of remoteness and even melancholy, like a scene remembered from one’s youth.
Sweet in her green dell the flower of beauty slumbers, Lull'd by the faint breezes sighing through her hair; Sleeps she and hears not the melancholy numbers Breathed to my sad lute 'mid the lonely air.
Anasúyá: Oh, my dear Priyamvadá, what delightful news! I am pleased beyond measure; yet when I think that we are to lose our dear [S']akoontalá this very day, a feeling of melancholy mingles with my joy.
And that dismal cry rose slowly And sank slowly through the air, Full of spirit's melancholy And eternity's despair! And they heard the words it said— Pan is dead! great Pan is dead! Pan, Pan is dead!
• Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Dead Pan.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Deity" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 321-25.)
the early trauma of Begum Akhtar’s life resulted in the singer being consumed by melancholy. She always felt a deep vacuum in her life and lived in constant fear of “Ya Allah, ab kya hoga?” (Oh god, what next?).
You have lost a child, a dear, dear child. I have lost the only earthly object of my affection.... I have now one request to make,... deny me not. Afford me the melancholy pleasure of seeing her body before internment.
James Buchanan
• Letter returned to him unopened, to the father of his former fiancée Ann Coleman, written after her death, rumored to have been suicide soon after her breaking of their engagement. (1819).
• Source: Wikiquote: "James Buchanan" (Sourced)
[W]e would probably claim Kafka as an Irish writer. His tone of voice is certainly quite Irish: that sense of melancholy, that sense of strangeness and of being a stranger in the world. I think that we empathise with that very much indeed.
It is as a composer that his name will live longest. He was the last of the colourful Russian masters of the late 19th cent[ury], with their characteristic gift for long and broad melodies imbued with a resigned melancholy which is never long absent.
That tho' a Man were admitted into Heaven to view the wonderful Fabrick of the World, and the Beauty of the stars, yet what would otherwise be Rapture and Extasie, would be but melancholy Amazement if he had not a Friend to communicate it to.
• Attributed to Archytus by Christiaan Huygens, The Celestial Worlds Discover'd (1722) Book 1, pt.4 and quoted by Arthur Beer, Vistas in Astronomy (1955) Vol.1
• Source: Wikiquote: "Archytas" (Quotes)
One may search the melancholy and feverishly passionate works of the singer elect of sorrows, in vain, for a more tragically significant page than this, which contains, in the space of a few bars, one of the most thrilling images of despair ever immortalized in music.
What are you ashamed of, my son? The Lord has seen everything you have done. You cannot hide anything from Him. Since He knows all of it, why should you still be so melancholy? Instead, engage yourself in harder spiritual disciplines, keep the company of holy men, and come here now and then. (p.429)
He was never interested in conventional beauty. Sober, pinched, reflective, lined and melancholy, his portraits remind us of that. But how many American artists said more about the sense of being in the world? Eakins was that extreme rarity, an artist who refused to tell a lie even in the service of his own imagination.
These melancholy but touching reflections caused me to turn my thoughts towards myself with a regret which was not without its pleasure. It seemed to me that destiny owed me something which it had not yet granted me. Why had I been born with delicate faculties, if they were to remain unemployed to the end?
One of the most melancholy consequences of this habit of deferring to other nations, and to other systems, is the fact that it causes us to undervalue the high blessings we so peculiarly enjoy; to render us ungrateful towards God, and to make us unjust to our fellow men, by throwing obstacles in their progress towards liberty.
Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods, And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt, And night by night the monitory blast Wails in the key-hole, telling how it pass'd O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes, Or grim wide wave; and now the power is felt Of melancholy, tenderer in its moods Than any joy indulgent Summer dealt.
• William Allingham, Day and Night Songs, Autumnal Sonnet.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Fall" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 51-53.)
The change is significant. It is the difference between the universal and equal citizenship of France... and the organized inequality of England established solidly upon class... the descent from hope to resignation, from the fire and passion... to the monotonous beat of the factory engine, from Turgot and Condorcet to the melancholy mathematical creed of Bentham and Ricardo and James Mill.
Outside, the main doors behind him, he was hit full in the chest by autumn. The doggy wind leapt about him and nipped; leaves skirred along the pavement, the scrape of the ferrules of sticks; melancholy, that tetrasyllable, sat on a plinth in the middle of the square. English autumn, and the whistling tiny souls of the dead round the war memorial.
In the negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music. They are pathetic, tender, passionate, melancholy, solemn, religious, bold, merry, gay or what you will. It is music that suits itself to any mood or any [[purpose. There is nothing in the whole age of composition that cannot be supplied with themes from this source.]]
And yet — and yet! He had done the right thing, though the Lord alone knew how it would end. He began to pluck courage from his very melancholy, and hope from his reflexions on the transitoriness of life. He was austerely following Romance as he conceived it, and if that capricious lady had taken one dream from him she might yet reward him with a better.
I can write no more today. The contemplation of my sorry state has reduced me to so deep a melancholy that I contemplate opening my wrist like Petronius Arbiter and lapsing quietly into oblivion. Unlike Petronius, however, I shall have neither the sound of music nor the gentle talk of friends. I still have time to choose a better moment — besides, who knows to what nightmares I might awake.
Rainer [protagonist in the novel], who is reading The Outsider by Camus, says he would like to put the hostility of the world behind him. Once your hope for something better is taken from you, then at last you have the present all in your hand. Then you yourself are reality. Others are extras. When Rainer contemplated san evening he says that evening is melancholy ceasefire where all life has come to and end.
Kalidasa's Vikramorvashiyam is based on the Puranic versions of the love story of king Pururava and celestial nymph Urvashi. However earliest mention of Urvashi is found in the Vedic literature in different contexts. In a Rig Vedic hymn in a dialogue form, Samvad Sukta, the love story of Pururavas and Urvashi is found recorded. In this rather obscure hymn Pururava is portrayed as a glum melancholy dejected lover of a celestial nymph who had abandon him at will.
I think people who are unhappy are always proud of being so, and therefore do not like to be told that there is nothing grand about their unhappiness. A man who is melancholy because lack of exercise has upset his liver always believes that it is the loss of God, or the menace of Bolshevism, or some such dignified cause that makes him sad. When you tell people that happiness is a simple matter, they get annoyed with you.
Indulge your passion for science, says she [nature], but let your science be human, and such as may have a direct reference to action and society. Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will severely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they introduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries shall meet with, when communicated. Be a philosopher; but amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.
Another word or two and the author will throw himself upon the kindness of his reader. His attempt has been to interest and amuse; should it be thought that he has thrown too much levity amid scenes of suffering and of gloom, his excuse must be that he belongs rather to the school of laughing than crying philosophers—to a class who would rather see a smile upon the face of melancholy than a tear in the eye of mirth.
And the color, the overcast blue Of the air, in which the blue guitar Is a form, described but difficult, And I am merely a shadow hunched Above the arrowy, still string, The maker of a thing yet to be made; The color like a thought that grows Out of a mood, the tragic robe Of the actor, half his gesture, half His speech, the dress of his meaning, silk Sodden with his melancholy words, The weather of his stage, himself.  '''X
You have a knack for turning your eyes inside out, so you see them. And they see you. And you're afraid, because they’re from the uncreated future, from a place, I think, where the human race has reached its last incarnation, from the end of the material world. Perhaps the end of all worlds. And they’re sad—melancholy is the better word—because you're like an angel to them, the angel of the past, the angel of infinite possibility. Possibility lost. The road not taken.
Glad as we were to leave it behind, I cannot deny that it was with a certain feeling of melancholy that we saw it vanish. We had grown so fond of our beacons, and whenever we met them we greeted them as old friends. Many and great were the services these silent watchers did us on our long and lonely way. — from The South Pole, by Roald Amundsen  On January 21, 1912, upon leaving behind the last navigation beacon at 80° 23' S
The sound of the bells, which always singularly affects me, the song of the birds, the beauty of the daylight, the enchanting landscape, the scattered country dwellings in which my fancy placed our common home – all these produced upon me an impression so vivid, tender, melancholy and touching, that I saw myself transported, as it were, in ecstasy, into that happy time and place, wherein my heart, possessing all the happiness it could desire, tasted it with inexpressible rapture, without even a thought of sensual pleasure.
Mother Nature C'mon Mother Nature Taste as sweet as wine, sweet as wine Like Tahitian orchids baby Mother Nature's fine, ha! Woooh, yeah, yeah, yeah Mother Nature tastes so fine When two people love each other Ain't no stoppin' Mother Nature 'Cause she tastes so fine Like Mama's wine Oh, Mother Nature, baby C'mon Tahitian orchids sweetly Makin' love so fine Mother Nature, Mother Nature, Mother Nature tastes so fine Ow, for you my love, my melancholy love Whoa, pours like Mother Nature, yeah, yeah Aw, c'mon Mother Nature, baby
When a man has been the lover of a woman as that man had been hers, with the vibrating communion of a voluptuousness unbroken for two years, that woman maintains a sort of physiological, quasi-animal instinct. A gesture, the accent of a word, a sigh, a blush, a pallor, are signs for her that her intuition interprets with infallible certainty. How and why is that instinct accompanied by absolute oblivion of former caresses? It is a particular case of that insoluble and melancholy problem of the birth and death of love.
Of passions under complete control, this hero [Pandu], O Madri, had all along been watched by me with care. How did he then forgetting the Rishi's curse, approach thee with enkindled desire? O Madri, this foremost of men should have been protected by thee. Why didst thou tempt him into solitude? Always melancholy at the thought of the Rishi's curse, how came he to be merry with thee in solitude? O princess of Valhika, more fortunate than myself, thou art really to be envied, for thou hast seen the face of our lord suffused with gladness and joy.
I prepared to set out for the Chihuahua market, whither a portion of our stock had been designed. Upon this expedition I was obliged to depart without my brother, who was laboring under the 'home fever,' and anxious to return to his family. ...Men under such bonds are peculiarly unfitted for the checkered life of a Santa Fé trader. The domestic hearth, with all its sacred and most endearing recollections, is sure to haunt them in the hour of trial, and almost every step of their journey is apt to be attended by melancholy reflections of home and domestic dependencies.
O Lord, this earth groans and suffers; chaos has made this world its abode. The darkness is so great that Thou alone canst dispel it. Come, manifest Thyself, that Thy work may be accomplished. Solitude, a harsh, intense solitude, and always this strong impression of having been flung headlong into an inferno of darkness!...Sometimes... I cannot prevent my total sub-mission from taking a hue of melancholy, and the calm and mute converse with the Master within is transformed for a moment into an invocation almost suppliant, O Lord, what have I done that Thou throwest me thus into the sombre night?
The beings closest to us, whether in love or hate, are often virtually our interpreters of the world, and some feather-headed gentleman or lady whom in passing we regret to take as legal tender for a human being may be acting as a melancholy theory of life in the minds of those who live with them — like a piece of yellow and wavy glass that distorts form and makes colour an affliction. Their trivial sentences, their petty standards, their low suspicions, their loveless ennui, may be making somebody else's life no better than a promenade through a pantheon of ugly idols.
At the Everyman Cinema there is a season of Satyajit Ray. He watches the Apu trilogy on successive nights in a state of rapt absorption. In Apu's bitter, trapped mother, his engaging, feckless father he recognizes, with a pang of guilt, his own parents. But it is the music above all that grips him, dizzyingly complex interplays between drums and stringed instruments, long arias on the flute whose scale or mode — he does not know enough about music theory to be sure which — catches at his heart, sending him into a mood of sensual melancholy that last long after the film has ended.
Oblivious of Democritus, the unwilling materialists of our day have generally been awkwardly intellectual and quite incapable of laughter. If they have felt anything, they have felt melancholy. Their allegiance and affection were still fixed on those mythical sentimental worlds which they saw to be illusory. The mechanical world they believed in could not please them, in spite of its extent and fertility. Giving rhetorical vent to their spleen and prejudice, they exaggerated nature's meagreness and mathematical dryness. When their imagination was chilled they spoke of nature, most unwarrantably, as dead, and when their judgment was heated they took the next step and called it unreal.
Anger... it's a paralyzing emotion... you can't get anything done. People sort of think it's an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don't think it's any of that — it's helpless... it's absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers — and I need clarity, in order to write — and anger doesn't provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever. I can feel melancholy, and I can feel full of regret, but anger is something that is useful to the people who watch it... it's not useful to me.
Many will think they may reasonably blame me by alleging that my proofs are opposed to the authority of certain men held in the highest reverence by their inexperienced judgments; not considering that my works are the issue of pure and simple experience, who is the one true mistress. These rules are sufficient to enable you to know the true from the false — and this aids men to look only for things that are possible and with due moderation — and not to wrap yourself in ignorance, a thing which can have no good result, so that in despair you would give yourself up to melancholy.
Here is what I wrote about SF. If it has a familiar ring, my publishers liked it well enough to make it into a postcard for publicity purposes. 'I love SF for its surrealist verve, its loony non-reality, its piercing truths, its wit, its masked melancholy, its nose for damnation, its bunkum, its contempt for home comforts, its slewed astronomy, its xenophilia, its hip, its classlessness, its mysterious machines, its gaudy backdrops, its tragic insecurity.' Science fiction has always seemed to me such a polyglot, an exotic mistress, a parasite, a kind of new language coined for the purpose of giving tongue to the demented twentieth century.
Reading lots of Dickens. Barnaby Rudge: the last Catholic pogrom - No Popery, the Gordon Riots in London - 1780, twenty years before Newman was born. He must have known people who had set fire to the houses, or taken in victims and refugees. Lord George Gordon who led the mob (obviously a religious maniac) died as late as 1793. Old Curiosity Shop, Nicholas Nickleby - this too, is part of Newman's background, this gallery of living gargoyles, ghouls and monsters. Might account, perhaps, even for some of Newman's pessimism about the world and human nature, which some attribute merely to his own melancholy disposition? That nineteenth century!!
The body is placed under the earth, and after a certain period there remains no vestige even of its form. This is that contemplation of inexhaustible melancholy, whose shadow eclipses the brightness of the world. The common observer is struck with dejection of the spectacle. He contends in vain against the persuasion of the grave, that the dead indeed cease to be. The corpse at his feet is prophetic of his own destiny. Those who have preceded him, and whose voice was delightful to his ear; whose touch met his like sweet and subtle fire: whose aspect spread a visionary light upon his path — these he cannot meet again.
It is by a blend of lively curiosity and intelligent selfishness that the artists who wish to mature late, who feel too old to die, the Goethes, Tolstoys, Voltaires, Titians and Verdis, reach a fruitful senescence. They cannot afford to associate with those who are burning themselves up or preparing for a tragedy or whom melancholy has marked for her own. Not for them the accident-prone, the friend in whom the desire for self-destruction keeps blistering out in broken legs or threatening them in anxiety-neuroses. Not for them the drumming finger, the close-cropt nail, the chewed glasses, the pause on the threshold, the wandering eye, or the repeated ‘um’ and ‘er.’
Nothing moves young people so much as to witness a sublime and virile gloom. Michelangelo's thinker staring down into the abyss of his own thoughts, Beethoven's poignantly drawn lips; these tragical masks of universal suffering touch the crude emotions of youth far more than Mozart's silver melodies or the crystalline light that radiates from Leonardo's figures. Being itself beauty, youth has no need of transfiguration. In the superabundance of its vital forces, it is allured by the tragical, and in its inexperience, is prone to accept the embraces of melancholy. That, too, is why youth is always ready for danger, and ever willing to extend a brotherly hand towards mental pain.
I remember my loves, my conversation, my friendships. I remember it all, see it all, see them all. With melancholy, but without nostalgia. And above all, without hope. I know that it is immortal, and that, if we are anything, we are the hope of something. For me, expectation has spent itself. I quit the nevertheless, the even, the in spite of everything, the moratoriums, the excuses and forgiving. I know the mechanism of the trap of morality and the drowsiness of certain words. I have lost faith in all those constructions of stone, ideas, ciphers. I quit. I no longer defend this broken tower. And, in silence, I await the event.
Perhaps the editor may be accused of nationality, when he says, that, taking the total merits of this work together, he prefers it to the early exertions of even the Italian muse, to the melancholy sublimity of Dante, and the amorous quaintness of Petrarca…Here indeed the reader will find few of the graces of fine poetry, little of the attic dress of the muse; but here are life and spirit, and ease and plain sense, and pictures of real manners, and perpetual incident and entertainment. The language is remarkably good for the time, and far superior in neatness and elegance even to that of Gawin Douglass, who wrote more than a century after.
When Machiavelli advises the Prince to carry out the Machiavellian scheme of action, he invests those actions with no sort of morality or beauty. For him morality remains what it is for everyone else, and does not cease to remain so because he observes (not without melancholy) that it is incompatible with politics. … For him evil, even if it aids politics, still remains evil. The modern realists are the moralists of realism. For them, the act which makes the State strong is invested with a moral character by the fact that it does so, and this whatever the act may be. The evil which serves politics ceases to be evil and becomes good.
Nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to the human race, and secretly admonished them to allow none of these biases to draw too much, so as to incapacitate them for other occupations and entertainments. Indulge your passion for science, says she, but let your science be human, and such as may have a direct reference to action and society. Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will severely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they introduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries shall meet with, when communicated. Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.
It is a melancholy reflection that our modes of population have been more destructive to the Indian natives than the conduct of the conquerors of Mexico and Peru. The evidence of this is the utter extirpation of nearly all the Indians in the most populous parts of the Union. A future historian may mark the causes of this destruction of the human race in sable colors. Although the present Government of the United States cannot with propriety be involved in the oppropbrium, yet it seems necessary however, in order to render their attention upon this subject strongly characteristic of their justice, that some powerful attempts should be made to tranquilize the frontiers, particularly those south of the Ohio.
A human face, a hand, a woman’s breast or a manly body, an expression of conflicting joy and pain, the infinite ocean, savage crags, the melancholy speech of black trees against the snow, the fierce power of spring blossoms and the heavy lethargy of a hot summer noon when our old friend Pan is asleep and the ghost of noon are murmuring – all this is enough to make us forget the sorrows of the world, or to give them form. In any case the determination to give form to things brings with it part of the solution for which you are seeking. The path is hard and the goal can never be reached – but it is a path.
Max Beckmann
• In: his lecture 'Drei Briefe an eine Malerin', New York and Boston, Spring 1948; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 214
• Source: Wikiquote: "Max Beckmann" (Quotes, 1940s)
He who carries self-regard far enough to keep himself in good health and high spirits, in the first place thereby becomes an immediate source of happiness to those around, and in the second place maintains the ability to increase their happiness by altruistic actions. But one whose bodily vigour and mental health are undermined by self-sacrifice carried too far, in the first place becomes to those around a cause of depression, and in the second place renders himself incapable, or less capable, of actively furthering their welfare. In estimating conduct we must remember that there are those who by their joyousness beget joy in others, and that there are those who by their melancholy cast a gloom on every circle they enter.
I am so often accused of gloominess and melancholy. And I think I'm probably the most cheerful man around. I don't consider myself a pessimist at all. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel completely soaked to the skin. … I think those descriptions of me are quite inappropriate to the gravity of the predicament that faces us all. I've always been free from hope. It's never been one of my great solaces. I feel that more and more we're invited to make ourselves strong and cheerful. .... I think that it was Ben Jonson who said, I have studied all the theologies and all the philosophies, but cheerfulness keeps breaking through.
I... had occasion to converse with Mr Cromwell’s physician, Dr Simcott, who assured me that for many years his patient was a most splenetick man and had phansies about the cross in that town; and that he had been called up to him at midnight, and such unseasonable hours very many times, upon a strong phansy, which made him belive he was then dying; and there went a story of him, that in the day-time, lying melancholy in his bed, he belived the spirit appeared to him, and told him he should be the greatest man, (not mentioning the word King) in this Kingdom. Which his uncle, Sir Thomas Steward, who left him all the little estate Cromwell had, told him was traiterous to relate.
The start of work means the end to freedom, but also to doubt, intensity and wayward desires. The accountant’s ten thousand possibilities have been reduced to an agreeable handful. She has a business card which she hands over in meetings and which tells other people—and, more meaningfully perhaps, reminds her—that she is a Business Unit Senior manager, rather than a vaporous transient consciousness in an incidental universe. How satisfying it is to be held in check by the assumptions of colleagues, instead of being forced to contemplate, in the loneliness of the early hours, all that one might have been and now never will be. … Life is no longer mysterious, sad, haunting, touching, confusing or melancholy; it is a practical stage for clear-eyed action.
It has been remarked by foreigners that the English are particularly fond of bell-ringing; and indeed most of our churches have a ring of bells in the steeple, partly appropriated to that purpose. These bells are rung upon most occasions of joy and festivity, and sometimes at funerals, when they are muffled, and especially at the funerals of ringers, with a piece of woolen cloth bound about the clapper, and the sounds then emitted by them are exceedingly unmelodious, and well fitted to inspire the mind with melancholy… Ringing the bells backwards is sometimes mentioned, and probably consisted in beginning with the largest bell and ending with the least; it appears to have been practiced by the ringers as a mark of contempt or disgust.
As for the clergy — No — If I say a word against them, I'll be shot. — I have no desire, — and besides, if I had, — I durst not for my soul touch upon the subject, — with such weak nerves and spirits, and in the condition I am in at present, 'twould be as much as my life was worth, to deject and contrist myself with so bad and melancholy an account, — and therefore, 'tis safer to draw a curtain across, and hasten from it, as fast as I can, to the main and principal point I have undertaken to clear up, — and that is, How it comes to pass, that your men of least wit are reported to be men of most judgment.
After a reading of the Symposium a serious student came with deep melancholy and said it was impossible to imagine that magic Athenian atmosphere reproduced, in which friendly men, educated, lively, on a footing of equality, civilized but natural, came together and told wonderful stories about the meaning of their longing. But such experiences are always accessible. Actually, this playful discussion took place in the midst of a terrible war that Athens was destined to lose, and Aristophanes and Socrates at least could foresee that this meant the decline of Greek civilization. But they were not given to culture despair, and in these terrible political circumstances, their abandon to the joy of nature proved the viability of what is best in man, independent of accidents, of circumstance. We feel ourselves too dependent on history and culture.
Passing round Point Conception, and steering easterly, we opened the islands that form, with the mainland, the canal of Santa Barbara. There they are, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, and there is the beautiful point, Santa Buenaventura; and there lies Santa Barbara on its plain, with its amphitheater of high hills and distant mountains. There is the old white mission with its belfries, and there the town, with its one-story adobe houses, with here and there a two-story wooden house of later build; yet little is it altered — the same repose in the golden sunlight and glorious climate, sheltered by its hills; and then, more remindful than anything else, there roars and tumbles upon the beach the same grand surf of the great Pacific... the same bright-blue ocean, and the surf making just the same monotonous, melancholy roar, and the same dreamy town.
I have somewhere found it recorded that as Johann Gottlieb Fichte progressed with his first reading of Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason," he was moved to tears. To those who have labored through the tortured pages of the great German thinker this would be no matter for surprise, were it not for the quality of the tears: not those of vexation and baffled understanding, indeed, but of enthusiasm and sheer gratitude. For Fichte had fallen into the melancholy persuasion of Spinoza. At least, certain views of this austere thinker of the seventeenth century appeared to Fichte as no less gloomy in their implication than irresistible in the logic which led to them. Irresistible were the reasons which had driven Spinoza to look upon nature as governed by inexorable Fate. In the world as a whole there was no purpose, in its parts there was no freedom.
I shall never forget the sight. The vessel of crystallization was three quarters full of slightly muddy water—that is, dilute water-glass—and from the sandy bottom there strove upwards a grotesque little landscape of variously colored growths: a confused vegetation of blue, green, and brown shoots which reminded one of algae, mushrooms, attached polyps, also moss, then mussels, fruit pods, little trees or twigs from trees, here, and there of limbs. It was the most remarkable sight I ever saw, and remarkable not so much for its profoundly melancholy nature. For when Father Leverk ¨uhn asked us what we thought of it and we timidly answered him that they might be plants: “No,” he replied, “they are not, they only act that way. But do not think the less of them. Precisely because they do, because they try as hard as they can, they are worthy of all respect.”
• Thomas Mann, in Doktor Faustus (1947), Chapter III
• Source: Wikiquote: "Crystal" (Quotes: Sorted alphabetically by author or source)
I thanke God for my happy dreames, as I doe for my good rest, for there is a satisfaction in them unto reasonable desires, and such as can be content with a fit of happinesse; and surely it is not a melancholy conceite to thinke we are all asleepe in this world, and that the conceits of this life are as meare dreames to those of the next, as the Phantasmes of the night, to the conceit of the day. There is an equall delusion in both, and the one doth but seeme to bee the embleme or picture of the other; we are somewhat more than our selves in our sleepes, and the slumber of the body seemes to bee but the waking of the soule. It is the ligation of sense, but the liberty of reason, and our awaking conceptions doe not match the fancies of our sleepes.
I wish the art of benefiting men had kept pace with the art of destroying them; for though war has become slow, philanthropy has remained hasty. The most melancholy of human reflections, perhaps, is that, on the whole, it is a question whether the, benevolence of mankind does most good or harm. Great good, no doubt, philanthropy does, but then it also does great evil. It augments so much vice, it multiplies so much suffering, it brings to life such great populations to suffer and to be vicious, that it is open to argument whether it be or be not an evil to the world, and this is entirely because excellent people fancy that they can do much by rapid action — that they will most benefit the world when they most relieve their own feelings; that as soon as an evil is seen "something" ought to be done to stay and prevent it.
To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, "by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only." Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. [...] I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.
To judge of it, let the reader put himself in my place. I saw all the happy future which I had depicted to myself vanish in a moment. All the dreams of happiness which I had so fondly cherished disappeared, and I, who from my youth had never considered my existence except in connection with hers, for the first time found myself alone. This moment was frightful! those which followed were all gloomy. I was still young, but the pleasant feeling of enjoyment and hope which animates youth, deserted me for ever. From that time my sensible being was half-dead. I saw nothing before me but the melancholy remains of an insipid life: and, if now and again an image of happiness floated lightly across my desires, this happiness was no longer that which was peculiarly my own: I felt that, even if I succeeded in obtaining it, I should still not be really happy.
The more exquisite any good is, of which a small specimen is afforded us, the sharper is the evil, allied to it; and few exceptions are found to this uniform law of nature. The most sprightly wit borders on madness; the highest effusions of joy produce the deepest melancholy; the most ravishing pleasures are attended with the most cruel lassitude and disgust; the most flattering hopes make way for the severest disappointments. And, in general, no course of life has such safety (for happiness is not to be dreamed of) as the temperate and moderate, which maintains, as far as possible, a mediocrity, and a kind of insensibility, in every thing. As the good, the great, the sublime, the ravishing are found eminently in the genuine principles of theism; it may be expected, from the analogy of nature, that the base, the absurd, the mean, the terrifying will be equally discovered in religious fictions and chimeras.
To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, "by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only." Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. . . . I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.
So please don't think that I am renouncing anything, I am reasonably faithful in my unfaithfulness and though I have changed, I am the same, and what preys on my mind is simply this one question: what am I good for, could I not be of service or use in some way, how can I become more knowledgeable and study some subject or other in depth? That is what keeps preying on my mind, you see, and then one feels imprisoned by poverty, barred from taking part in this or that project and all sorts of necessities are out of one's reach. As a result one cannot rid oneself of melancholy, one feels emptiness where there might have been friendship and sublime and genuine affection, and one feels dreadful disappointment gnawing at one's spiritual energy, fate seems to stand in the way of affection or one feels a wave of disgust welling up inside. And then one says “How long, my God!”
The normal process of life contains moments as bad as any of those which insane melancholy is filled with, moments in which radical evil gets its innings and takes its solid turn. The lunatic's visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact. Our civilization is founded on the shambles, and every individual existence goes out in a lonely spasm of helpless agony. If you protest, my friend, wait till you arrive there yourself! … Here on our very hearths and in our gardens the infernal cat plays with the panting mouse, or holds the hot bird fluttering in her jaws. Crocodiles and rattlesnakes and pythons are at this moment vessels of life as real as we are; their loathsome existence fills every minute of every day that drags its length along; and whenever they or other wild beasts clutch their living prey, the deadly horror which an agitated melancholiac feels is the literally right reaction on the situation.
Playing one character at a time, for months on end, didn’t properly exploit Williams’ unique gift of being everyone at once. His true model and mentor was not an Olivier or Brando but freeform comic Jonathan Winters, who also battled to call a truce with the manifold Genie geniuses in his head. … Why does a clown want to play Hamlet? Maybe because he thinks he is that melancholy soul whom others find amusingly odd. Williams dropped Mork’s na-nu na-nu and entered dramatic film with the lead in The World According to Garp. … Williams infused weird wonder in voice roles for animated features — not only Aladdin but Robots and Happy Feet. He was a cartoon, with all the characters, in a man’s body. … '''He could play anyone, but not just one: not “just” Robin Williams. All those voices in the head of this comic Hamlet must have told him it was time to be quiet. The rest is silence.
Many of the religious symbols appealed to my sensibilities and I responded to the dramatic vision of life held by the church, feeling that to live day by day with death as one’s sole thought was to be so compassionately sensitive toward all life as to view all men as slowly dying, and the trembling sense of fate that welled up, sweet and melancholy, from the hymns blended with the sense of fate that I had already caught from life. But full emotional and intellectual belief never came. Perhaps if I had caught my first sense of life from the church I would have been moved to complete acceptance, but the hymns and sermons of God came into my heart only long after my personality had been shaped and formed by uncharted conditions of life. I felt that I had in me a sense of living as deep as that which the church was trying to give me, and in the end I remained basically unaffected.
I am a spectator, so to speak, of the molecular whirlwind which men call individual life; I am conscious of an incessant metamorphosis, an irresistible movement of existence, which is going on within me — and this phenomenology of myself serves as a window opened upon the mystery of the world. I am, or rather my sensible consciousness is, concentrated upon this ideal standing-point, this invisible threshold, as it were, whence one hears the impetuous passage of time, rushing and foaming as it flows out into the changeless ocean of eternity. After all the bewildering distractions of life — after having drowned myself in a multiplicity of trifles and in the caprices of this fugitive existence, yet without ever attaining to self-intoxication or self-delusion — I come again upon the fathomless abyss, the silent and melancholy cavern, where dwell 'Die Mütter,' where sleeps that which neither lives nor dies, which has neither movement nor change, nor extension, nor form, and which lasts when all else passes away.
Claggert: We must serve the law, sir, or give up the right and privilege of service. It is only within that law that we may use our discretions according to our rank. Captain Vere: You're so intelligent and so lucid for the rank you hold, Master At Arms. Claggert: I thank you, sir. Captain Vere: Yes, that's no flattery, Mr. Claggart. It's a melancholy fact. It's sad to see such qualities of mind bent to such a sorry purpose. What's the reason for it? Claggert: I am what I am, sir. And what the world has made me. Captain Vere: The world? The world demands that behind every peacemaker there be the gun, the gallows, the jail. Do you think it will always be so? Claggert: I have no reason not to, sir. Captain Vere: You live without hope? Claggert: I live. Captain Vere: But remember, Mr. Claggart, that even the man who wields the whip cannot defy the code we must obey and not be broken by it. That will be all.
Thus we see, the mind can undergo many changes, and can pass sometimes to a state of greater perfection, sometimes to a state of lesser perfection. These passive states of transition explain to us the emotions of pleasure and pain. By pleasure therefore in the following propositions I shall signify a passive state wherein the mind passes to greater perfection. By pain I shall signify a passive state whereby the mind passes to a lesser perfection. Further, the emotion of pleasure in reference to the body and mind together I shall call stimulation (titillatio) or merriment (hilaritus), the emotion of pain in the same relation I shall call suffering or melancholy. But we must bear in mind, that stimulation and suffering are attributed to man, when one part of his nature is more affected than the rest, merriment and melancholy, when all parts are alike affected. What I mean by desire I have explained in Proposition 9 of this part; beyond these three I recognize no other primary emotion; I will show as I proceed, that all other emotions arise from these three.
You have committed one of the greatest stupidities — for yourself and for me! Your association with an anti-Semitic chief expresses a foreignness to my whole way of life which fills me again and again with ire or melancholy. … It is a matter of honor with me to be absolutely clean and unequivocal in relation to anti-Semitism, namely, opposed to it, as I am in my writings. I have recently been persecuted with letters and Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheets. My disgust with this party (which would like the benefit of my name only too well!) is as pronounced as possible, but the relation to Förster, as well as the aftereffects of my former publisher, the anti-Semitic Schmeitzner, always brings the adherents of this disagreeable party back to the idea that I must belong to them after all. … It arouses mistrust against my character, as if publicly I condemned something which I have favored secretly — and that I am unable to do anything against it, that the name of Zarathustra is used in every Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheet'', has almost made me sick several times.
We can not but admire a man who, subject to a lifelong illness that inflicted with frequent recurrence an intense mental agony, fought persistently against his weakness—at times their master, at times a victim to their influence. Still he did not flinch even under this torture, but held his pen and pressed it to write in a cause which was distinctly unpopular. Cowper was preeminently a poet of feelings; he may have been melancholy, but he pointed out to his readers how they were themselves subjects of emotion. He owed a debt to Providence, and he rebuked the people for their follies. In doing so he was regardless of his own fame and of their opprobrium. He gave them tolerable advice, and strove to awaken them from their apathy to a sense of their duty towards their neighbours. First of poets, since the days of Milton, to champion the sacredness of religion, he was the forerunner of a new school that disliked the political satires of the disciples of Pope, and aimed at borrowing for their lines of song from the simple beauties of a perfect nature.
Then soon after my delight with Stein was jolted; a political critic of the reddest persuasion condemned Stein in a newspaper article, calling her decadent, implying that she reclined upon a silken couch in Paris smoking hashish day and night and was a hopeless prey to hallucinations. I asked myself if I were wrong or crazy or decadent. Being simple minded, I decided upon a very practical way of determining the worth of the prose of Stein, a prose I had accepted without qualms or distress. I gathered a group of semi-illiterate Negro workers into a Chicago basement and read them Melanctha aloud. They were enthralled, interrupting me constantly to tell where and when they had met such a strange and melancholy gal. I was convinced and Miss Stein's book never bothered or frightened me after that. If Negro stockyard workers could understand the stuff when it was read aloud to them, then surely anybody else could if they wanted to read with their ears as well as their eyes. For the prose of Stein is but the repetitive contemporaneousness of our living speech woven into a grammarless form of narrative...
About Gertrude Stein
• Richard Wright, "Gertrude Stein's Story is Drenched in Hitler's Horrors," rough draft of a review of Wars I Have Seen (1946), Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
• Source: Wikiquote: "Gertrude Stein" (Quotes, Quotes about Stein)
The child from whom for any reason parental affection is withdrawn is likely to become timid and unadventurous, filled with fears and self-pity, and no longer able to meet the world in a mood of gay exploration. Such a child may set to work at a surprisingly early age to meditate on life and death and human destiny. He becomes an introvert, melancholy at first, but seeking ultimately the unreal consolations of some system of philosophy or theology. The world is a higgledy-piggledy place, containing things pleasant and things unpleasant in haphazard sequence. And the desire to make an intelligible system or pattern out of it is at bottom an outcome of fear, in fact a kind of agoraphobia or dread of open spaces. Within the four walls of his library the timid student feels safe. If he can persuade himself that the universe is equally tidy, he can feel almost equally safe when he has to venture forth into the streets. Such a man, if he had received more affection, would have feared the real world less, and would not have had to invent an ideal world to take its place in his beliefs.
We die, says Jesus Christ; and, when we awaken from the languor of disease, the glories and the happiness of Paradise are around us. All evil and pain have ceased for ever. Our happiness also corresponds with, and is adapted to, the nature of what is most excellent in our being. We see God, and we see that he is good. How delightful a picture, even if it be not true! How magnificent is the conception which this bold theory suggests to the contemplation, even if it be no more than the imagination of some sublimest and most holy poet, who, impressed with the loveliness and majesty of his own nature, is impatient and discontented with the narrow limits which this imperfect life and the dark grave have assigned for ever as his melancholy portion. It is not to be believed that Hell, or punishment, was the conception of this daring mind. It is not to be believed that the most prominent group of this picture, which is framed so heart-moving and lovely — the accomplishment of all human hope, the extinction of all morbid fear and anguish — would consist of millions of sensitive beings enduring, in every variety of torture which Omniscient vengeance could invent, immortal agony.
I no longer feel I'll be dead by thirty; now it's sixty. I suppose these deadlines we set for ourselves are really a way of saying we appreciate time, and want to use all of it. I'm still writing, I'm still writing poetry, I still can't explain why, and I'm still running out of time. Wordsworth was sort of right when he said, "Poets in their youth begin in gladness/ But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness." Except that sometimes poets skip the gladness and go straight to the despondency. Why is that? Part of it is the conditions under which poets work — giving all, receiving little in return from an age that by and large ignores them — and part of it is cultural expectation — "The lunatic, the lover and the poet," says Shakespeare, and notice which comes first. My own theory is that poetry is composed with the melancholy side of the brain, and that if you do nothing but, you may find yourself going slowly down a long dark tunnel with no exit. I have avoided this by being ambidextrous: I write novels too. But when I find myself writing poetry again, it always has the surprise of that first unexpected and anonymous gift.
Life is what we make it, and the world is what we make it. The eyes of the cheerful and of the melancholy man are fixed upon the same creation; but very different are the aspects which it bears to them. To the one, it is all beauty and gladness; the waves of ocean roll in light, and the mountains are covered with day. Life, to him, flashes, rejoicing, upon every flower and every tree that trembles in the breeze. There is more to him, everywhere, than the eye sees; a presence of profound joy, on hill and valley, and bright, dancing water. The other idly or mournfully gazes at the same scene, and everything wears a dull, dim, and sickly aspect. The murmuring of the brooks is a discord to him, the great roar of the sea has an angry and threatening emphasis, the solemn music of the pines sings the requiem of his departed happiness, the cheerful light shines garishly upon his eyes and offends him. The great train of the seasons passes before him like a funeral procession; and he sighs, and turns impatiently away. The eye makes that which it looks upon; the ear makes its own melodies and discords: the world without reflects the world within.
Albert Pike
• Ch. XXII : Grand Master Architect, p. 193
• Source: Wikiquote: "Albert Pike" (Quotes, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871): Also published as The Magnum Opus or the Great Work of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry)
Half the campus was designed by Bottom the Weaver, half by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Benton had been endowed with one to begin with, and had smiled and sweated and and spoken for the other. A visitor looked under black beams, through leaded casements (past apple boughs, past box, past chairs like bath-tubs on broomsticks) to a lawn ornamented with one of the statues of David Smith; in the months since the figure had been put in its place a shrike had deserted for it a neighboring thorn tree, and an archer had skinned her leg against its farthest spike. On the table in the President’s waiting-room there were copies of Town and Country, the Journal of the History of Ideas, and a small magazine—a little magazine—that had no name. One walked by a mahogany hat-rack, glanced at the coat of arms on an umbrella-stand, and brushed with one’s sleeve something that gave a ghostly tinkle—four or five black and orange ellipsoids, set on grey wires, trembled in the faint breeze of the air-conditioning unit: a mobile. A cloud passed over the sun, and there came trailing from the gymnasium, in maillots and blue jeans, a melancholy procession, four dancers helping to the infirmary a friend who had dislocated her shoulder in the final variation of The Eye of Anguish.
Randall Jarrell
• Chapter 1: “The President, Mrs., and Derek Robbins”, p. 3; opening paragraph of novel
• Source: Wikiquote: "Randall Jarrell" (Quotes, Pictures from an Institution (1954) [novel]: pagination according to the University of Chicago Press edition (1986) )
Earlier, I have cautioned you against an outright pragmatist approach. Now I am cautioning you against an outright populist approach. Sometimes a populist decision is, in the long run, not beneficial to the masses. Neither pragmatism nor populism are fundamental political and socio-economic doctrines. Nor do I say that you should play it by ear. I have made this melancholy analysis in anguish. My jail surroundings have not influenced my objectivity. I do not want to see the whole world in a death-cell merely because I am in a death cell. I do not say that the High Court has pronounced a death sentence on the world because a law court has pronounced a perverse death sentence on me. I would be the happiest man if the gloomy winter of mankind were to give way to a shaft of sunlight and to coloured flowers. The world is very beautiful. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever". There is the beauty of the landscape, of the tall mountain, the green plains, the humped deserts. There is the beauty of the flowers and the forests, of the azure oceans and the meandering rivers. There is the splendour of architecture, the magnificence of music, and the sparkle of the dance. Above all, there is the beauty of man and woman, the most perfect creations of God.
The colonies had grown up under constitutions of government so different, there was so great a variety of religions, they were composed of so many different nations, their customs, manners, and habits had so little resemblance, and their intercourse had been so rare, and their knowledge of each other so imperfect, that to unite them in the same principles in theory and the same system of action, was certainly a very difficult enterprise. The complete accomplishment of it, in so short a time and by such simple means, was perhaps a singular example in the history of mankind. Thirteen clocks were made to strike together — a perfection of mechanism, which no artist had ever before effected. In this research, the gloriole of individual gentlemen, and of separate States, is of little consequence. The means and the measures are the proper objects of investigation. These may be of use to posterity, not only in this nation, but in South America and all other countries. They may teach mankind that revolutions are no trifles; that they ought never to be undertaken rashly; nor without deliberate consideration and sober reflection; nor without a solid, immutable, eternal foundation of justice and humanity; nor without a people possessed of intelligence, fortitude, and integrity sufficient to carry them with steadiness, patience, and perseverance, through all the vicissitudes of fortune, the fiery trials and melancholy disasters they may have to encounter.
Williams gave tremendous performances in a handful of movies, but it was Williams bottled and, in most cases, domesticated. It didn’t have that free-form, unfettered genius. That said, his nattering sailor in Robert Altman’s messy Popeye was musically dazzling. Even more musical was his performance in Paul Mazursky’s Moscow on the Hudson, in which the sadness of not being able to perform was right there in his eyes. … The combination of mania and melancholy tapped something beautiful in him. In The Fisher King, Williams was also at the height of his powers. He knew how to play a man dangerously in touch with unseen forces, a holy fool, and for once he played opposite actors who were, each in their own way, worthy of him: Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl, and, most memorably, Amanda Plummer, who should have partnered with him again. We do need to talk about those “domesticated” parts, because they were the ones that won him a huge mainstream audience and, in the case of his avuncular, bearded psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting, an Oscar. This was Williams the crinkle-eyed humanist. … The saddest thing is that Williams never found a collaborator who could give him the combination of structure and freedom in which he could thrive … But you know what? You could put together a highlight reel of Williams’s work …  and see that the measure of the man was vast. Even when his talent was cruelly constricted, his soul was limitless.
Of all the Nations in the world at present we English are the stupidest in speech, the wisest in action. As good as a 'dumb' Nation, I say, who cannot speak, and have never yet spoken,— spite of the Shakspeares and Miltons who skew us what possibilities there are!—O Mr. Bull, I look in that surly face of thine with a mixture of pity and laughter, yet also with wonder and veneration. Thou complainest not, my illustrious friend; and yet I believe the heart of thee is full of sorrow, of unspoken sadness, seriousness,—profound melancholy (as some have said) the basis of thy being. Unconsciously, for thou speakest of nothing, this great Universe is great to thee. Not by levity of floating, but by stubborn force of swimming, shalt thou make thy way. The Fates sing of thee that thou shalt many times be thought an ass and a dull ox, and shalt with a god-like indifference believe it. My friend,—and it is all untrue, nothing ever falser in point of fact! Thou art of those great ones whose greatness the small passer-by does not discern. Thy very stupidity is wiser than their wisdom. A grand vis inertiae is in thee; how many grand qualities unknown to small men! Nature alone knows thee, acknowledges the bulk and strength of thee: thy Epic, unsung in words, is written in huge characters on the face of this Planet,—sea-moles, cotton-trades, railways, fleets and cities, Indian Empires, Americas, New- Hollands; legible throughout the Solar System!
No quality of human nature is more remarkable, both in itself and in its consequences, than that propensity we have to sympathize with others, and to receive by communication their inclinations and sentiments, however different from, or even contrary to our own. This is not only conspicuous in children, who implicitly embrace every opinion propos’d to them; but also in men of the greatest judgment and understanding, who find it very difficult to follow their own reason or inclination, in opposition to that of their friends and daily companions. To this principle we ought to ascribe the great uniformity we may observe in the humours and turn of thinking of those of the same nation; and ’tis much more probable, that this resemblance arises from sympathy, than from any influence of the soil and climate, which, tho’ they continue invariably the same, are not able to preserve the character of a nation the same for a century together. A good-natur’d man finds himself in an instant of the same humour with his company; and even the proudest and most surly take a tincture from their countrymen and acquaintance. A chearful countenance infuses a sensible complacency and serenity into my mind; as an angry or sorrowful one throws a sudden dump upon me. Hatred, resentment, esteem, love, courage, mirth and melancholy; all these passions I feel more from communication than from my own natural temper and disposition. So remarkable a phaenomenon merits our attention, and must be trac’d up to its first principles.
Kertész has his eyes on the 20th century's varied efforts toward the liquidation of anything recognizable as human personality. "We are living in an age of disaster; each of us is a carrier of the disease," B. decrees in one of many flashbacks. "Disaster man has no fate, no qualities, no character." … Fatelessness is an eerie and painful novel, shocking not for its by-now familiar subject matter, but for the tone of earnest goodwill with which the young narrator attempts to understand his situation. (In one passage he discovers fleas feasting on his open wounds and, despite his horror, considers the insects' hunger and concludes that, "taking everything into account, I could see it their way.") In 1990's excellent Kaddish for an Unborn Child — which, sadly, completes the slim triad of Kertész's works available in English — he explains (via B.) that "one's religious duty, totally independent of the crippling religions of crippling churches, is . . . understanding the world." And with brutal intellectual rigor, Kertész does his best, refusing to let the Holocaust be sacralized as some mythical exception that stands outside of history, or as an untouchable sinkhole of meaning. The Nazi genocide is not an inexplicable catastrophe for Kertész, it's a given, the channel through which the world must be understood. …''' Liquidation is a profoundly melancholy book, wrestling not just with the legacy of the Holocaust, but with the decades of authoritarianism and disappointment that followed. … Liquidation is at its core a book about writing, about trying to tell stories that resist being told.
I thought of the long ages of the past, during which the successive generations of this little creature had run their course — year by year being born, and living and dying amid these dark and gloomy woods, with no intelligent eye to gaze upon their loveliness; to all appearance such a wanton waste of beauty. Such ideas excite a feeling of melancholy. It seems sad that on the one hand such exquisite creatures should live out their lives and exhibit their charms only in these wild inhospitable regions, doomed for ages yet to come to hopeless barbarism; while, on the other hand, should civilized man ever reach these distant lands, and bring moral, intellectual, and physical light into the recesses of these virgin forests, we may be sure that he will so disturb the nicely-balanced relations of organic and inorganic nature as to cause the disappearance, and finally the extinction, of these very beings whose wonderful structure and beauty he alone is fitted to appreciate and enjoy. This consideration must surely tell us that all living things were not made for man. Many of them have no relation to him. The cycle of their existence has gone on independently of his, and is disturbed or broken by every advance in man’s intellectual development; and their happiness and enjoyments, their loves and hates, their struggles for existence, their vigorous life and early death, would seem to be immediately related to their own well-being and perpetuation alone, limited only by the equal well-being and perpetuation of the numberless other organisms with which each is more or less intimately connected.
The characteristics of the affective experience which, to avoid ambiguity, should, I think, be called the state of assurance rather than the faith-state, can be easily enumerated, though it is probably difficult to realize their intensity, unless one has been through the experience one's self. The central one is the loss of all the worry, the sense that all is ultimately well with one, the peace, the harmony, the willingness to be, even though the outer conditions should remain the same. The certainty of God's 'grace,' of 'justification,' 'salvation,' is an objective belief that usually accompanies the change in Christians; but this may be entirely lacking and yet the affective peace remain the same — you will recollect the case of the Oxford graduate: and many might be given where the assurance of personal salvation was only a later result. A passion of willingness, of acquiescence, of admiration, is the glowing centre of this state of mind. The second feature is the sense of perceiving truths not known before. The mysteries of life become lucid, as Professor Leuba says; and often, nay usually, the solution is more or less unutterable in words. But these more intellectual phenomena may be postponed until we treat of mysticism. A third peculiarity of the assurance state is the objective change which the world often appears to undergo. 'An appearance of newness beautifies every object,' the precise opposite of that other sort of newness, that dreadful unreality and strangeness in the appearance of the world, which is experienced by melancholy patients, and of which you may recall my relating some examples. This sense of clean and beautiful newness within and without one is one of the commonest entries in conversion records.
Is there anyone who thinks that the resolution can come later when it is really needed? So it is not needed then, not on the wedding day, when the eternal pledge is entered into? But then, later? Can he mean that there was no thought of leaving one another, but of enjoying the first gladness of their union-and so united, of finding support in the resolution? Then when toil and trouble come, and need, be it physical or spiritual, stands at the door, then the time is there? Aye, indeed, the time is there-the time for the resolved individual to muster up his resolution; but not just the time to form a resolution. It is true that distress and failure may help a man to seek God in a resolution; but the question is whether the conception is always the right one, whether it is joyful, whether it does not have a certain wretchedness, a secret wish that it were not necessary, whether it may not be out of humor, envious, melancholy, and so no ennobling reflection of the trials of life. There is in the state a loan association to which the indigent may apply. The poor man is helped, but I wonder if that poor man has a pleasant conception of the loan-association. And so there may also be a marriage which first sought God when in difficulty, alas, sought Him as a loan-association; and everyone who first seeks God for the first time when in difficulties, always runs this danger. Is then such a late resolution, which even if it were a worthy one, was not without shame and not without great danger, bought at the last moment, is that more beautiful, and wiser than the resolution at the beginning of marriage?
How strange! This bed on which I shall lie has been slept on by more than one dying man, but today it does not repel me! Who knows what corpses have lain on it and for how long? But is a corpse any worse than I? A corpse too knows nothing of its father, mother or sisters or Titus. Nor has a corpse a sweetheart. A corpse, too, is pale, like me. A corpse is cold, just as I am cold and indifferent to everything. A corpse has ceased to live, and I too have had enough of life.... Why do we live on through this wretched life which only devours us and serves to turn us into corpses? The clocks in the Stuttgart belfries strike the midnight hour. Oh how many people have become corpses at this moment! Mothers have been torn from their children, children from their mothers - how many plans have come to nothing, how much sorrow has sprung from these depths, and how much relief!... Virtue and vice have come in the end to the same thing! It seems that to die is man's finest action - and what might be his worst? To be born, since that is the exact opposite of his best deed. It is therefore right of me to be angry that I was ever born into this world! Why was I not prevented from remaining in a world where I am utterly useless? What good can my existence bring to anyone? … But wait, wait! What's this? Tears? How long it is since they flowed! How is this, seeing that an arid melancholy has held me for so long in its grip? How good it feels - and sorrowful. Sad but kindly tears! What a strange emotion! Sad but blessed. It is not good for one to be sad, and yet how pleasant it is - a strange state...
Frédéric Chopin
• As quoted by his fellows when he was in deathbed, a several hours before he died."Selected Correspondence Of Fryderyk Chopin";
• Source: Wikiquote: "Frédéric Chopin" (Sourced)
In the twenty-sixth book of his Mémoires d'outre-tombe, Chateaubriand recounts his 1821 arrival at the French embassy in Berlin. He cites a flattering portrait of him written by the Baroness of Hohenhausen and published in the morning press on March 22: "M. de Chateaubriand is of a somewhat short, yet slender, stature. His oval face has an expression of reverence and melancholy. He has black hair and black eyes that glow with the fire of his mind." At this point, Chateaubriand flatly adds: "Mais j'ai les cheveux blancs; j'ai plus d'un siècle, en outre, je suis mort" ("But I have white hair; I am more than a century old, besides, I am dead") … Of course, those startling words, "en outre, je suis mort" do not refer to the year 1821, nor to the time Chateaubriand is writing this account. Rather, they refer to the time we, readers, turn to this specific page of the Mémoires: as you are reading this, Chateaubriand reminds us, I am dead. The words wrest us away from the event he is relating, his arrival in Berlin, to remind us in the most direct terms that our reading of these words necessarily entails the death of their author. Moreover, the French en outre brings us back to the very title of the Mémoires d'outre-tombe: outre-tombe, from beyond the grave. In 1836, Chateaubriand signed a contract with a society of shareholders: in exchange for an immediate payment of 156,000 francs and a life annuity, he sold "the literary ownership of his Mémoires as they existed and as they would exist at his death." Commenting on this transaction, Maurice Levaillant notes: "With this agreement, Chateaubriand bought material security at the price of a concession that he never got over: instead of appearing after a period he had first prescribed as fifty years after his death, his Mémoires would suddenly appear, so to speak, live from his grave."
Mr Mayor and gentlemen - I have great pleasure in associating myself in how ever humble and transitory manner with this great and splendid undertaking. I am glad to be associated with an enterprise which I hope will carry still further the prosperity and power of Liverpool, and which will carry down the name of Liverpool to posterity as the place where a great mechanical undertaking first found its home. Sir William Forwood has alluded to the share which this city took in the original establishment of railways. My memory does not quite carry me back to the melancholy event by which that opening was signalised, but I can remember that which presents to my mind a strange contrast with the present state of things. Almost the earliest thing I can recollect is being brought down here to my mother's house which is close in the neighbourhood, and we took two days on the road, and had to sleep half way. Comparing that with my journey yesterday I feel what an enormous distance has been traversed in the interval, and perhaps a still larger distance and a still more magnificent rate of progress will be achieved before a similar distance of time has elapsed from the present day. I will not detain you in a room where it is perhaps difficult to hear. Of all my oratorical efforts, the one which I find most difficult to achieve is that of competing with a steam engine. Occasionally you are invited to do it at railway stations, and I know distinguished statesmen who do it with effect, but I think I have never ventured to compete in that line. I will therefore, though with some fear and trembling, fulfil the injunctions of Sir William Forwood, and proceed to handle the electric machinery which is to set this line in motion. I only hope the result will be no different from what he anticipates.
It is a great pity that this tendency towards religious thought can find no better outlet than the Jewish pettifoggery of the Old Testament. For religious people who, in the solitude of winter, continually seek ultimate light on their religious problems with the assistance of the Bible, must eventually become spiritually deformed. The wretched people strive to extract truths from these Jewish chicaneries, where in fact no truths exist. As a result they become embedded in some rut of thought or other and, unless they possess an exceptionally commonsense mind, degenerate into religious maniacs. It is deplorable that the Bible should have been translated into German, and that the whole of the German Folk should have thus become exposed to the whole of this Jewish mumbo jumbo. So long as the wisdom, particularly of the Old Testament, remained exclusively in the Latin of the Church, there was little danger that sensible people would become the victims of illusions as the result of studying the Bible. But since the Bible became common property, a whole heap of people have found opened to them lines of religious thought which—particularly in conjunction with the German characteristic of persistent and somewhat melancholy meditation—as often as not turned them into religious maniacs. When one recollects further that the Catholic Church has elevated to the status of Saints a whole number of madmen, one realises why movements such as that of the Flagellants came inevitably into existence in the Middle Ages in Germany. As a sane German, one is flabbergasted to think that German human beings could have let themselves be brought to such a pass by Jewish filth and priestly twaddle, that they were little different from the howling dervish of the Turks and the negroes, at whom we laugh so scornfully. It angers one to think that, while in other parts of the globe religious teaching like that of Confucius, Buddha and Mohammed offers an undeniably broad basis for the religious-minded, Germans should have been duped by a theological exposition devoid of all honest depth.
In his Opus Majus he demonstrates, that if a transparent body, interposed between the eye and an object, be convex towards the eye, the object will appear magnified. This observation our author certainly had from Alhazen... this writer [Bacon] gives us figures, representing the progress of rays of light through his spherical segment, as well as endeavours to give reasons why objects are magnified... From the writings of Alhazen and these observations and experiments of Bacon together, it is not improbable that some monks gradually hit upon the construction of spectacles, to which Bacon's lesser segment, not withstanding his mistake concerning it, was a nearer approach than Alhazen's... Whoever they were that pursued the discoveries of Bacon, they probably observed, that a very small convex glass, when held at a greater distance from a book, would magnify the letters more than when it was placed close to them, in which position only Bacon seemed to have used it. In the next place, they might try whether two of these small segments of a sphere placed together, or a glass convex on both sides, would not magnify more than one of them. They would then find, that two of these glasses, one for each eye, would answer the purpose of reading better than one; and lastly they might find, that different degrees of convexity, suited different persons. It is certain that spectacles were well known in the 13th century, and not long before. ...It would certainly have been a great satisfaction to us to have been able to trace the actual steps in the progress of this most useful invention, without which most persons who have a taste for reading must have had the melancholy prospect of passing a very dull and joyless old age; and must have been deprived of the pleasure of entertaining themselves by conversing with the absent and the dead, when they were no longer capable of acting their part among the living. Telescopes and microscopes are to be numbered among the superfluities of life when compared to spectacles, which may now be ranked almost among the necessities of it; since the arts of reading and writing are almost universal.
“Why, if I may ask, are you called the Blue Knight?” “I am thought to be melancholy.” “On what evidence?” “Just my temperament, I suppose. I’ve always been rather melancholy, even as a child. Spent a lot of time plucking at the counterpane, as it were. It grew worse as I grew older. Also, I published a book. It was called On the Impossibility of Paradise.” “What was the argument?” “I argued that the idea of a former paradise, which had been lost and might be regained either in this world or in the next, did not square with my experience.” “Personal experience.” “Yes. I wasn’t happy even in the womb. The womb, for me, was far from a paradise. I remember distinctly. My mother was a very modern person—advanced, don’t you know. Fond of Alban Berg, the Wozzeck man. Not only was I forced repeatedly to listen to Wozzeck, in the womb, but also to Lulu, which is even worse, from the fetal point of view. These horrors aside, there was the poetry of Wyndham Lewis, proprietor of Blast. Blast was the name of his magazine. Can you imagine calling your magazine Blast? Going to crack consciousness wide open, he was. These tidderly-push artists and their conceits—the poetry was of a piece. I had to listen to it. In the womb. In addition, there were certain odd substances entering the bloodstream—do you know what Kif is?” “No idea.” “Better thus. In sum, my womb time was quite hellish, and upon being expelled I found the larger arena not much of an improvement. I don’t mean to complain, of course,I’m just trying to suggest—” “No, no,” said Sir Roger. “Say on. Isupposen we should be doing search-and-destroy, but your remarks are of the greatest interest to me.” “Good of you,” said the Blue Knight. “The basic contradiction I located or felt I had located was in terms of dramatic values. Paradise, the Fall, and the return to Paradise—it’s not a story. It’s too symmetrical. There are no twists. Just Paradise, zip, Fall, zip, and Paradise again, zip. And I had a very strong feeling, an intuition if you will, that even if Paradise were regained it would have music by Milhaud and frescoes by the Italian Futurists.”
Behold, then, a new religion, a new society; upon this twofold foundation there must inevitably spring up a new poetry. Previously following therein the course pursued by the ancient polytheism and philosophy, the purely epic muse of the ancients had studied nature in only a single aspect, casting aside without pity almost everything in art which, in the world subjected to its imitation, had not relation to a certain type of beauty. A type which was magnificent at first, but, as always happens with everything systematic, became in later times false, trivial and conventional. Christianity leads poetry to the truth. Like it, the modern muse will see things in a higher and broader light. It will realize that everything in creation is not humanly beautiful, that the ugly exists beside the beautiful, the unshapely beside the graceful, the grotesque on the reverse of the sublime, evil with good, darkness with light. It will ask itself if the narrow and relative sense of the artist should prevail over the infinite, absolute sense of the Creator; if it is for man to correct God; if a mutilated nature will be the more beautiful for the mutilation; if art has the right to duplicate, so to speak, man, life, creation; if things will progress better when their muscles and their vigour have been taken from them; if, in short, to be incomplete is the best way to be harmonious. Then it is that, with its eyes fixed upon events that are both laughable and redoubtable, and under the influence of that spirit of Christian melancholy and philosophical criticism which we described a moment ago, poetry will take a great step, a decisive step, a step which, like the upheaval of an earthquake, will change the whole face of the intellectual world. It will set about doing as nature does, mingling in its creations — but without confounding them — darkness and light, the grotesque and the sublime; in other words, the body and the soul, the beast and the intellect; for the starting-point of religion is always the starting-point of poetry. All things are connected. Thus, then, we see a principle unknown to the ancients, a new type, introduced in poetry; and as an additional element in anything modifies the whole of the thing, a new form of the art is developed. This type is the grotesque; its new form is comedy.
The dancing of Isadora Duncan is great symbolic art; now, when perhaps we have seen it for the last time, we must unhesitatingly re-affirm our conviction that it is one of the superlative artistic expressions of eternal spiritual glories. Her endowment is no mere talent for the consummation of exterior beauties; it is genius. She is a seer and a prophet, fulfilled of understanding and wisdom. The deep disease of the soul, its wasting, anemic illness since it ate of the weeds of prudery and went wandering on the hard roads of materialism, is known to her, and she has a great pity ; and with devoted effort, through consecrating trials of toil and rejection, she has fitted herself to be a physician of the spirit. She brings us pure wine from an ancient vineyard, and she will not mingle with it any sharp strange bitters to sting our jaded taste. In her manner is nothing either of decadence nor of gigantic, splendid but agonising dramaturgy. She is of the company of those who have held to the slender infragible thread of the eternal tradition of beauty. And coming so, she startles our spiritual memories from a sleep of centuries. What glorious things she makes the soul remember! Once we were young, and the leaping blades of our desire striking the granite facts of life lit lively fires of wonder. We were simple, so that when the moving beauty of nature and the joy of each other's company stirred us to ecstasies, we sought free and natural expression; we danced — we danced as the movements of waves and branches, and as the exquisite beauties of our own bodies suggested. Such memories she evokes by her subtle gestures and movements, which are as the dancing of a leaf over the ground, as the drifting of mist over the still surface of a lake at dawn. The morning of time dawns upon our spirits again, and once more we have a sense that hears the gods. Watching her we see the soul of man moving in the dance of destiny; dreaming, hoping, aspiring, questioning; thrilling with desire and joy and melancholy, crushed, purged and raised again; the spirit of man enduring its trials and triumphing in the great adventure. This is the interpretation of life by the intuitive wisdom of genius, which is feeling confirmed by thought, and which understands that the ultimate of human apprehension is a mysticism impossible of interpretation save in symbolic art.
Human infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions I name bondage: for, when a man is a prey to his emotions, he is not his own master, but lies at the mercy of fortune: so much so, that he is often compelled, while seeing that which is better for him, to follow that which is worse. Why this is so, and what is good or evil in the emotions, I propose to show... Nature does not work with an end in view. For the eternal and infinite Being, which we call God or Nature, acts by the same necessity as that whereby it exists. ...a cause which is called final is nothing else but human desire, in so far as it is considered as the origin or cause of anything. ...Perfection and imperfection... are in reality merely modes of thinking, or notions which we form from a comparison among one another... by reality and perfection I mean the same thing. For we are wont to refer all the individual things in nature to one genus, which is called the highest genus, namely, to the category of Being, whereto absolutely all individuals in nature belong. ...As for the terms good and bad, they indicate no positive quality in things regarded in themselves, but are merely modes of thinking, or notions which we form from the comparison of things with one another. Thus one and the same thing can be at the same time good, bad, and indifferent. For instance music is good to the melancholy, bad to those who mourn, and neither good nor bad to the deaf. ...In what follows, then, I shall mean by, "good" that, which we certainly know to be a means of approaching more nearly to the type of human nature, which we have set before ourselves; by "bad," that which we certainly know to be a hindrance to us in approaching the said type. ...when I say that a man passes from a lesser to a greater perfection... what I mean is, that we conceive the thing's power of action, in so far as this is understood by its nature, to be increased or diminished. ...Lastly, by perfection in general I shall, as I have said, mean reality—in other words, each thing's essence, in so far as it exists, and operates in a particular manner, and without paying any regard to its duration. For no given thing can be said to be more perfect, because it has passed a longer time in existence. The duration of things cannot be determined by their essence, for the essence of things involves no fixed and definite period of existence...
Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all its myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of the world, would be affected upon receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity. He would, I imagine, first of all, express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people, he would make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated in a moment. He would too, perhaps, if he was a man of speculation, enter into many reasonings concerning the effects which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world in general. And when all this fine philosophy was over, when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take his repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tranquillity, as if no such accident had happened. The most frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger to-morrow, he would not sleep to-night; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own. To prevent, therefore, this paltry misfortune to himself, would a man of humanity be willing to sacrifice the lives of a hundred millions of his brethren, provided he had never seen them? Human nature startles with horror at the thought, and the world, in its greatest depravity and corruption, never produced such a villain as could be capable of entertaining it. But what makes this difference? When our passive feelings are almost always so sordid and so selfish, how comes it that our active principles should often be so generous and so noble? When we are always so much more deeply affected by whatever concerns ourselves, than by whatever concerns other men; what is it which prompts the generous, upon all occasions, and the mean upon many, to sacrifice their own interests to the greater interests of others? It is not the soft power of humanity, it is not that feeble spark of benevolence which Nature has lighted up in the human heart, that is thus capable of counteracting the strongest impulses of self-love. It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts itself upon such occasions. It is reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct.
It was there he composed these most beautiful of short pages which he modestly entitled the Preludes. They are masterpieces. Several bring to mind visions of deceased monks and the sound of funeral chants; others are melancholy and fragrant; they came to him in times of sun and health, in the clamor of laughing children under he window, the faraway sound of guitars, birdsongs from the moist leaves, in the sight of the small pale roses coming in bloom on the snow. … Still others are of a mournful sadness, and while charming your ear, they break your heart. There is one that came to him through an evening of dismal rain — it casts the soul into a terrible dejection. Maurice and I had left him in good health one morning to go shopping in Palma for things we needed at out "encampment." The rain came in overflowing torrents. We made three leagues in six hours, only to return in the middle of a flood. We got back in absolute dark, shoeless, having been abandoned by our driver to cross unheard of perils. We hurried, knowing how our sick one would worry. Indeed he had, but now was as though congealed in a kind of quiet desperation, and, weeping, he was playing his wonderful Prelude. Seeing us come in, he got up with a cry, then said with a bewildered air and a strange tone, "Ah, I was sure that you were dead." When he recovered his spirits and saw the state we were in, he was ill, picturing the dangers we had been through, but he confessed to me that while waiting for us he had seen it all in a dream, and no longer distinguished the dream from reality, he became calm and drowsy while playing the piano, persuaded that he was dead himself. He saw himself drowned in a lake. Heavy drops of icy water fell in a regular rhythm on his breast, and when I made him listen to the sound of the drops of water indeed falling in rhythm on the roof, he denied having heard it. He was even angry that I should intepret this in terms of imitative sounds. He protested with all his might — and he was right to — against the childishness of such aural imitations. His genius was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds. His composition of that night was surely filled with raindrops, resounding clearly on the tiles of the Charterhouse, but it had been transformed in his imagination and in his song into tears falling upon his heart from the sky. … The gift of Chopin is [the expression of] the deepest and fullest feelings and emotions that have ever existed. He made a single instrument speak a language of infinity. He could often sum up, in ten lines that a child could play, poems of a boundless exaltation, dramas of unequalled power.
The dissatisfaction with life and the world, felt more or less in the present state of society and intellect by every discerning and highly conscientious mind, gave in his case a rather melancholy tinge to the character, very natural to those whose passive moral susceptibilities are more than proportioned to their active energies. For it must be said, that the strength of will of which his manner seemed to give such strong assurance, expended itself principally in manner. With great zeal for human improvement, a strong sense of duty and capacities and acquirements the extent of which is proved by the writings he has left, he hardly ever completed any intellectual task of magnitude. He had so high a standard of what ought to be done, so exaggerated a sense of deficiencies in his own performances, and was so unable to content himself with the amount of elaboration sufficient for the occasion and the purpose, that he not only spoilt much of his work for ordinary use by over-labouring it, but spent so much time and exertion in superfluous study and thought, that when his task ought to have been completed, he had generally worked himself into an illness, without having half finished what he undertook. From this mental infirmity (of which he is not the sole example among the accomplished and able men whom I have known), combined with liability to frequent attacks of disabling though not dangerous ill-health, he accomplished, through life, little in comparison with what he seemed capable of; like Coleridge, he might plead as a set-off that he had been to many persons, through his conversation, a source not only of much instruction but of great elevation of character. On me his influence was most salutary. It was moral in the best sense. He took a sincere and kind interest in me, far beyond what could have been expected towards a mere youth from a man of his age, standing, and what seemed austerity of character. There was in his conversation and demeanour a tone of high-mindedness which did not show itself so much, if the quality existed as much, in any of the other persons with whom at that time I associated. My intercourse with him was the more beneficial, owing to his being of a different mental type from all other intellectual men whom I frequented The influence of Charles Austin over me differed from that of the persons I have hitherto mentioned, in being not the influence of a man over a boy, but that of an elder contemporary. It was through him that I first felt myself, not a pupil under teachers, but a man among men. He was the first person of intellect whom I met on a ground of equality, though as yet much his inferior on that common ground. He was a man who never failed to impress greatly those with whom he came in contact, even when their opinions were the very reverse of his. The impression he gave was that of boundless strength, together with talents which, combined with such apparent force of will and character, seemed capable of dominating the world. Those who knew him, whether friendly to him or not, always anticipated that he would play a conspicuous part in public life. It is seldom that men produce so great an immediate effect by speech, unless they, in some degree, lay themselves out for it; and he did this in no ordinary degree. He loved to strike, and even to startle. He knew that decision is the greatest element of effect, and he uttered his opinions with all the decision he could throw into them, never so well pleased as when he astonished any one by their audacity.
Now the trickiest catch in the negro problem is the fact that it is really twofold. The black is vastly inferior. There can be no question of this among contemporary and unsentimental biologists—eminent Europeans for whom the prejudice-problem does not exist. But, it is also a fact that there would be a very grave and very legitimate problem even if the negro were the white man's equal. For the simple fact is, that two widely dissimilar races, whether equal or not, cannot peaceably coexist in the same territory until they are either uniformly mongrelised or cast in folkways of permanent and traditional personal aloofness. No normal being feels at ease amidst a population having vast elements radically different from himself in physical aspect and emotional responses. A normal Yankee feels like a fish out of water in a crowd of cultivated Japanese, even though they may be his mental and aesthetic superiors; and the normal Jap feels the same way in a crowd of Yankees. This, of course, implies permanent association. We can all visit exotic scenes and like it—and when we are young and unsophisticated we usually think we might continue to like it as a regular thing. But as years pass, the need of old things and usual influences—home faces and home voices—grows stronger and stronger; and we come to see that mongrelism won't work. We require the environing influence of a set of ways and physical types like our own, and will sacrifice anything to get them. Nothing means anything, in the end, except with reference to that continuous immediate fabric of appearances and experiences of which one was originally part; and if we find ourselves ingulphed by alien and clashing influences, we instinctively fight against them in pursuit of the dominant freeman's average quota of legitimate contentment. . . . All that any living man normally wants—and all that any man worth calling such will stand for—is as stable and pure a perpetuation as possible of the set of forms and appearances to which his value-perceptions are, from the circumstances of moulding, instinctively attuned. That is all there is to life—the preservation of a framework which will render the experience of the individual apparently relevant and significant, and therefore reasonably satisfying. Here we have the normal phenomenon of race-prejudice in a nutshell—the legitimate fight of every virile personality to live in a world where life shall seem to mean something. . . . Just how the black and his tan penumbra can ultimately be adjusted to the American fabric, yet remains to be seen. It is possible that the economic dictatorship of the future can work out a diplomatic plan of separate allocation whereby the blacks may follow a self-contained life of their own, avoiding the keenest hardships of inferiority through a reduced number of points of contact with the whites . . . No one wishes them any intrinsic harm, and all would rejoice if a way were found to ameliorate such difficulties as they have without imperilling the structure of the dominant fabric. It is a fact, however, that sentimentalists exaggerate the woes of the average negro. Millions of them would be perfectly content with servile status if good physical treatment and amusement could be assured them, and they may yet form a well-managed agricultural peasantry. The real problem is the quadroon and octoroon—and still lighter shades. Theirs is a sorry tragedy, but they will have to find a special place. What we can do is to discourage the increase of their numbers by placing the highest possible penalties on miscegenation, and arousing as much public sentiment as possible against lax customs and attitudes—especially in the inland South—at present favouring the melancholy and disgusting phenomenon. All told, I think the modern American is pretty well on his guard, at last, against racial and cultural mongrelism. There will be much deterioration, but the Nordic has a fighting chance of coming out on top in the end.

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