He who becomes the slave of habit, who follows the same routes every day, who never changes pace, who does not risk and change the color of his clothes, who does not speak and does not experience, dies slowly.
He or she who shuns passion, who prefers black on white, dotting ones “it’s” rather than a bundle of emotions, the kind that make your eyes glimmer, that turn a yawn into a smile, that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings, dies slowly.
He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy, who is unhappy at work, who does not risk certainty for uncertainty, to thus follow a dream, those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives, die slowly.
He who does not travel, who does not read, who does not listen to music, who does not find grace in himself, she who does not find grace in herself, dies slowly.
He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem, who does not allow himself to be helped, who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops, dies slowly.
He or she who abandon a project before starting it, who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know, he or she who don’t reply when they are asked something they do know, die slowly.
Let’s try and avoid death in small doses, reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.
On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy. It is this largess that accounts for the presence within the city’s walls of a considerable section of the population; for the residents of Manhattan are to a large extent strangers who have pulled up stakes somewhere and come to town, seeking sanctuary or fulfillment or some greater or lesser grail. The capacity to make such dubious gifts is a mysterious quality of New York. It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.
Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part; or kiss anyway, let’s start with that, with the kissing part, because it’s better than the parting part, isn’t it – we’re good at kissing, we like how that part goes: we part our lips, our mouths get near and nearer, then we’re close, my breasts, your chest, our bodies partway to making love, so we might as well, part of me thinks – the wrong part, I know, the bad part, but still let’s pretend we’re at that party where we met and scandalized everyone, remember that part? Hold me like that again, unbutton my shirt, part of you wants to I can tell, I’m touching that part and it says yes, the ardent partisan, let it win you over, it’s hopeless, come, we’ll kiss and part forever.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
And we have countries without borders, like our idea of the unknown, narrow and wide - countries whose maps narrow to a gray tunnel as we walk in them and cry out in their labyrinths: ‘And still we love you.’ Our love is an inherited disease. Countries that grow by tossing us into the unknown. Their willows and portrayals grow, their grasses and blue mountains. A lake widens north of the soul. Wheat spikes spring up south of the soul. The lemon shines like a lamp in an emigrant’s night. Geography emits sacred texts. And the ascending chain of hills reaches higher and higher. The exile tells himself: ‘If I were a bird I would burn my wings.’ The smells of autumn become the image of one I love, soft rain seeps into the dry heart and imagination opens to its source and becomes reality’s terrain, the only true place. Everything distant becomes rural and primitive, as if the earth were still gathering itself to meet Adam descending from his paradise. I say: These are the countries that bear us…so when were we born? Did Adam take two wives? Or will we be born again to forget sin?
This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who say, Last night, the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?
Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.
And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.
Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave,
so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
were born at a good time. Because you were able
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.
So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.
Slow sail’d the weary mariners and saw Betwixt the green brink and the run— Sweet faces, rounded arms, and bossoms prest [they mused, To little harps of gold: and while Whispering to each other half in fear, Shrill music reach’d them on the middle sea.
Wither away, whither away, whither away? Fly no more Wither away from the high green field, and the happy blossoming shore? Day and night to the billow the fountain calls; Down shower the gamboiling waterfalls From wandering over the lea: Out of the livgreen heart of the dells, They freshen the silver-crim shells, And thick with white bells the clover-hill swells High over the full toned sea:
O, hither come hither and furl your sails, Come hither to me and to me, Here is only the mew that wails; We will sing to you all the day; Mariners mariners, furl your sails, For here are the blessed downs and dales, and merrily, merrily carol the gales, And the rainbow forms and flies on the land Over the islands free; And the rainbow lives in the curve of the sand; Hither come hither and see; And the rainbow hangs on the posing wave, And sweet is the color of cove and cave, And sweet shall your welcome be; O, hither come hither and be our lords For merry brides are we. We will kiss sweet kisses and speak sweet words O listen, listen, your eyes shall glisten With the sharp clear twang of the golden chords Runs up the ridged sea. Who can light on as happy shore all the world o’er, all the worldo’er? Wither away? Listen and stay: Mariner, mariner, fly no more.