"Talibus orabat dictis, arasque tenebat, cum sic orsa loqui vates: “Sate sanguine divom, Tros Anchisiade, facilis descensus Averno; noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis; sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras, hoc opus, hic labor est.""brevis-lux -
With such words, he prayed and held the altar, when the oracle began to speak thusly: "Trojan son of Anchises, having sprung from the blood of the gods, the descent to Avernus is easy; the cold door of Dis is open night and day; to retrace one's steps and emerge into the air above, this is the toil, this is the labor."
Vergil's Aeneid, 6.124-6.129
In Vietnamese, the word for missing someone and remembering them is the same: nhớ. Sometimes, when you ask me over the phone, Con nhớ mẹ không? I flinch, thinking you meant, Do you remember me? I miss you more than I remember you.
Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel
"Soles occidere et redire possunt: nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux, nox est perpetua una dormienda."brevis-lux -
"The sun is able to set and return again: for us, when the brief light falls, one never-ending night must be slept."
I stretched out my hands, holding the falling sun in one hand, and the climbing moon in the other, my silver and gold, my gift from life. My gift of life. My life is a hesitation in time. An opening in a cave. A gap for a word.
Jeanette Winterson, Lighthousekeeping
But as for now I’m in the center of something that shouts and surges forth. And it’s subtle, like the most intangible reality. As for now, time is how long a thought lasts.
It’s that pure, this contact with the invisible nucleus of reality.
I know what I’m doing here: I’m counting the instants that drip and are thick with blood.
Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life
This is the time in our lives when we lay down the mask, lay down the burden we’ve carried, and go out into the world unguarded and undisguised. As we are. Flawed. Human. Raw and broken in places. And beginning to heal.
Marya Hornbacher, Waiting
The light is golden and the trees are lit from within. In autumn, you feel beloved by the earth, all its inhabitants, for entire afternoons, sometimes.
Ellen Welcker, from “Any Grieving Mammal”
(…) Where do you open?
Where do you carry your dead? There’s no locket
for that—hinged, hanging on a chain that greens
your throat. And the dead inside you, don’t you
hear them breathing? You must have a hole
they can press their gray lips to. If you open—
when you open—will we find them folded inside?
In what shape? I mean what cut shape is made
whole by opening? I mean besides the heart.
Maggie Smith, from “Heart“
I have seen for some time
how everything is changing.
Something rises and acts
and kills and causes grief.
From one time to the next
all the gardens now are not the same;
from the yellowing to the
golden slow decay;
how long that path has been.
Now I stand amid emptiness
and gaze down all avenues.
Almost to the distant oceans
I can see the solemn ponderous
relentlessly denying sky.
Rainer Maria Rilke, “End of Autumn”, The Book of Images
“The folklore among knitters is that everything handmade should have at least one mistake so an evil sprit will not become trapped in the maze of perfect stitches. A missed increase or decrease, a crooked seam, a place where the tension is uneven - the mistake is a crack left open to let in the light. The evil sprit I want to usher out of my knitting and my life is at once a spirit of laziness and of over-achieving. It’s that little voice in my head that says, I won’t even try this because it doesn’t come naturally to me and I won’t be very good at it.”
Kyoko Mori, ‘Yarn’
Nightfall. Clouds scatter and vanish.
The sky is pure and cold.
Silently the River of Heaven turns in the Jade Vault.
If tonight I do not enjoy life to the full,
Next month, next year, who knows where I will be?
Su Tung-Po (1037–1101)
speak to you over cities
I speak to you over plains
My mouth is against your ear
The two sides of the walls face
my voice which acknowledges you.
I speak to you of eternity.
O cities memories of cities
cities draped with our desires
cities early and late
cities strong cities intimate
stripped of all their makers
their thinkers their phantoms
Landscape ruled by emerald
live living ever-living
the wheat of the sky on our earth
nourishes my voice I dream and cry
I laugh and dream between the flames
between the clusters of sunlight
And over my body your body extends
the layer of its clear mirror.
Paul Eluard, The Absence
A cold hand squeezes my throat and prevents me from breathing life. Everything is dying in me, even the knowledge that I can dream! I can’t get physically comfortable. Every soft thing I lean against hurts my soul with sharp edges.
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet