“Separated from the citadels and hushed corridors of Europe (…) American Adam and Eve found themselves naked, gazing upon the vast richness of a bewildering absence. (…) Humankind stood alone before God and nature, having to invent itself, its voice and vision.” (Parini, 1995, p.4).
Emerson: “”Standing on the bare ground – my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, - all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God.” (Parini, 1995, p.6). “One thing the Transcendentalists hoped to transcend was individuality itself.” (Parini, 1995, p.7).
“The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest his name that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust,
Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just.
It was His own, it was not mine.” (Bradstreet, ‘Here follows some verses upon the burning of our house July 10th, 1666. Copied out of a loose paper.’ Parini, 1995, p.31).
“The stream , the trees, the grass, the sighing wind,
All of hem utter sound of admonishment
And grave parental love.
They are not of our race, they seem to say,
And yet have knowledge of our moral race
And somewhat majestic sympathy,
Something of pity for the puny clay,
That holds & boasts the immeasurable mind.” (Emerson ‘The river’ in Parini, 1995, p.103).
“Should you ask me, whence the stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wogwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations,
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you.” (Wadsworth Longfellow ‘The songs of Hiawatha’ in Parini, 1995, p.137).
“And all the great traditions of the past
They saw reflected in the coming time.
And thus forever with reverted look
The mystic volume of the world they read,
Spelling it backward, like the Hebrew book,
Till life became a Legend of the dead.” (Wadsworth Longfellow ‘The Jewish Cemetery at Newport’ in Parini, 1995, p.141).
“Within the circuit of this plodding life
There enter moments of an azure hue,
Untarnished fair as is the violet
Or anemone, when the spring strews them
By some meandering rivulet, which make
The best philosophy untrue that aims
But to console man for his grievances.” (Thoreau ‘Within the circuit of this plodding life’ in Parini, 1995, p.173).
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
O loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.” (Whitman ‘Song of myself’ in Parini, 1995, p.181).
“Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.” (Whitman ‘Song of myself’ in Parini, 1995, p.183).
“All truths wait in all things,
they neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,
Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so,
Only what nobody denies is so.” (Whitman ‘Song of myself’ in Parini, 1995, p.194).
“I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.” (Whitman ‘Why Lilacs last in they dooryard bloom’d’ in Parini, 1995, p.223).
“I can wade grief.
Whole pools of it,-
I’m used to that.
But the least push of joy
Breaks up my feet,
And I tip – drunken.” (Dickinson ‘I can wade grief’ in Parini, 1995, p.250).
“Pain has an element of blank;
I cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.
It has not future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.” (Dickinson ‘Pain has an element of blank’ in Parini, 1995, p.250).
“Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
I paused and said, ‘I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther – and we shall see.”
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to sayfor certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.” (Frost ‘The wood pile’ in Parini, 1995, p.311).
“Back out of all this now too much for us,
back in time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off.” (Frost ‘Directive’ in Parini, 1995, p.317).
“It feels good as it is without the giant,
A thinker of the first idea. Perhaps
The truth depends on a walk around a lake,
A composing as the body tires, a stop
To see hepatica, a stop to watch
A definition growing certain and
A wait within that certainty.” (Stevens ‘It must be abstract’ in Parini, 1995, p.311).
“The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.” (Ezra Pound ‘In a station of the Metro’ in Parini, 1995, p.358).
“Psychology which explains everything
and we are still in doubt.” (Moore ‘Marriage’ in Parini, 1995, p.384).
“There never was a war that was
not inward; I must
fight till I have conquered in myself what
causes war, but I would not believe it.” (Moore ‘In Distrust of Merit’ in Parini, 1995, p.395).
“Let us go then, you and I,
when the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table.” (Eliot ‘The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ in Parini, 1995, p.400).
“In a minute there is time
For decision and revision which a minute will reverse.” (Eliot ‘The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ in Parini, 1995, p.401).
“Would it have been worth wile,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” –
If one, settling a pillow by her head
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.” (Eliot ‘The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ in Parini, 1995, p.403).
“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.” (Eliot ‘The Waste Land’ in Parini, 1995, p.406).
“The river’s tent is broken; the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends.
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loiteringheirs of City director;
Departed, have left no addresses.” (Eliot ‘The Waste Land’ in Parini, 1995, p.410).
“A poem should not mean
But be.” (Macleish ‘Ars Poetica’ in Parini, 1995, p.424).
“my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height
this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm.” (e.e. Cumming ‘my father moved through dooms of love’ in Parini, 1995, p.440).
“The late-season pain gnawing deep at the human bone
As the season burned on to its end.” (Robert Penn Warren ‘Amazing Grace in the Back Country’ in Parini, 1995, p.501).
“I am renewed by death, thought of my death,
The dry scent of a dying garden in September,
The wind fanning the ash of a low fire.
What I love is near at hand,
Always, in earth and air.” (Theodore Roethke ‘The far field’ in Parini, 1995, p.511).
“When by me in the dusk my child sits down
I am myself.” (John Berryman ‘Homage to Mistress Bradstreet’ in Parini, 1995, p.544).
“You could cut the brackish winds with a knife
here in Nantucket, and cast up the time
When the Lord God formed man from the sea’s slime
And breathed into his face the breath of life,
And blue lung’d combers lumbered to the kill.
The Lord survives the rainbow of His will.” (Robert Lowell ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’ in Parini, 1995, p.558).
“I remember Ted Weiss saying,
“At the exhibition I suddenly realized
Picasso had to re-make everything he laid his eyes on
Into an art object.
He couldn’t let the world alone.
Since then I don’t write every morning.”” (Mona van Duyn ‘Moose in the morning, northern Maine’’ in Parini, 1995, p.578).
“On the telephone wire
all the little golden bells are ringing
as that compulsive old scribbler, the universe,
jots down another day.” (Mona van Duyn ‘Moose in the morning, northern Maine’’ in Parini, 1995, p.579).
“Think of forgetting the past.
It was an exercise requiring further practice;
A difficult exercise, played through by someone else.
Overheard from another room, now,
It seems full of mistakes.” (Donals Justice ‘Sonatina in Yellow’ in Parini, 1995, p.597).
“but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,
That I have perceived nothing completely,
That tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.” (AR Ammons ‘Corsons Inlet’ in Parini, 1995, p.602).
“Death never entered his poems, but rowed, with his hair down, far out on the lake,
laughing and looking up at the sky.” (Charles Wright ‘Portrait of the artist with Li Po’ in Parini, 1995, p.698).
“Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.” (Robert Hass ‘Meditations at lagunitas’ in Parini, 1995, p.715).