'I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."
— Oscar Wilde
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”
― David Foster Wallace, This Is Water
Let No Wind Come
by May Sarton
You had found words for this and called it love:
But when your cheek lay against mine like one
Leaf on another leaf, it was not love;
And when I bent to you, it was not done
For love. From deeper in the rooted mind
There came as softly as a flowering tree
A light as petals falling on the blind—
I saw life grow and fold itself in me.
And now I have a body who had none,
And now I have a heart who had before
Only a moth’s wing lying at the bone,
Only a moth’s heart beating at the core.
It is not less than love that at your kiss
I saw a flower unfold—it is not less.
But I would like to go a little further still, and honor the possibility that the stories that poems come out of are valuable in themselves, so far as they are known. Those who are living and writing at a given time are not isolated poetry dispensers more or less equivalent to soft-drink machines, awaiting the small change of critical approval. We are, figuratively at least, members of a community, joined together by our stories. We are inevitably collaborators. We are never in any simple sense the authors of our own work. The body of work we make for ourselves in our time is only remotely a matter of literary history. The work we make is the work we are living by, and not in the hope of making literary history, but in the hope of using, correcting so far as we are able, and passing on the art of human life, of human flourishing, which includes the arts of reading and writing poetry.
— Wendell Berry. "Sweetness Preserved," Imagination in Place
We drove through valleys where human life had grown careless and halfhearted under the influence of the coal industry and its invariable ruination. We drove through other valleys spared so far the misfortune of coal, where the modest houses were painted and there were flowers in the dooryards and excellent vegetable gardens.
— Wendell Berry, from "My Conversation with Gurney Norman", Imagination in Place