All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.
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All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.

-Virginia Woolf

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Suppose after all that death does end all. Next to eternal joy, next to being forever with those we love and those who have loved us, next to that, is to be wrapt in the dreamless drapery of eternal peace. Next to eternal life is eternal sleep.Upon the shadowy shore of death the sea of trouble casts no wave. Eyes that have been curtained by the everlasting dark, will never know again the burning touch of tears. Lips touched by eternal silence will never speak again the broken words of grief. Hearts of dust do not break. The dead do not weep. Within the tomb no veiled and weeping sorrow sits, and in the rayless gloom is crouched no shuddering fear.I had rather think of those I have loved, and lost, as having returned to earth, as having become a part of the elemental wealth of the world – I would rather think of them as unconscious dust, I would rather dream of them as gurgling in the streams, floating in the clouds, bursting in the foam of light upon the shores of worlds, I would rather think of them as the lost visions of a forgotten night, than to have even the faintest fear that their naked souls have been clutched by an orthodox god.I will leave my dead where nature leaves them. Whatever flower of hope springs up in my heart I will cherish, I will give it breath of sighs and rain of tears. But I cannot believe that there is any being in this universe who has created a human soul for eternal pain. I would rather that every god would destroy himself; I would rather that we all should go to eternal chaos, to black and starless night, than that just one soul should suffer eternal agony.I have made up my mind that if there is a God, he will be merciful to the merciful.Upon that rock I stand. –That he will not torture the forgiving. –Upon that rock I stand. –That every man should be true to himself, and that there is no world, no star, in which honesty is a crime.Upon that rock I stand.The honest man, the good woman, the happy child, have nothing to fear, either in this world or the world to come.Upon that rock I stand.

-Robert G.

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You stand alone upon a height," he said, dreamily, "like one in a dreary land. Behind you all is darkness, before you all is darkness; there is but one small space of light. In that one space is a day. They come, one at a time, from the night of To-morrow, and vanish into the night of Yesterday."I have thought of the days as men and women, for a woman's day is not at all like a man's. For you, I think, they first were children, with laughing eyes and little, dimpled hands. One at a time, they came out of the darkness, and disappeared into the darkness on the other side. Some brought you flowers or new toys and some brought you childish griefs, but none came empty-handed. Each day laid its gift at your feet and went on."Some brought their gifts wrapped up, that you might have the surprise of opening them. Many a gift in a bright-hued covering turned out to be far from what you expected when you were opening it. Some of the happiest gifts were hidden in dull coverings you took off slowly, dreading to see the contents. Some days brought many gifts, others only one."As the days grew older, some brought you laughter; some gave you light and love. Others came with music and pleasure--and some of them brought pain.""Yes," sighed Evelina, "some brought pain.""It is of that," went on the Piper, "that I wished to be speaking. It was one day, was it not, that brought you a long sorrow?""Yes.""Not more than one? Was it only one day?""Yes, only one day," "See," said The Piper, gently, "the day came with her gift. You would not let her lay it at your feet and pass on into the darkness of Yesterday. You held her by her grey garments and would not let her go. You kept searching her sad eyes to see whether she did not have further pain for you. Why keep her back from her appointed way? Why not let your days go by?""The other days," murmured Evelina, "have all been sad.""Yes, and why? You were holding fast to one day--the one that brought you pain. So, with downcast eyes they passed you, and carried their appointed gifts on into Yesterday, where you can never find them again. Even now, the one day you have been holding is struggling to free herself from the chains you have put upon her. You have no right to keep a day.""Should I not keep the gifts?" she asked. His fancy pleased her."The gifts, yes--even the gifts of tears, but never a day. You cannot hold a happy day, for it goes too quickly. This one sad day that marched so slowly by you is the one you chose to hold. Lady," he pleaded, "let her go!

-Myrtle Reed

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Let us look once more at Yeats. At bottom, he was sceptical about the nonsense with which he satisfied what we can call his lust for commitment. Now and again he believed some of it, but in so far as his true commitment was to poetry he recognized his fictions as heuristic and dispensable, 'consciously false.' 'They give me metaphors for poetry,' he noted. The dolls and the amulets, the swords and the systems, were the tools of an operationalist. Yeats was always concerned that what made sense to him in terms of the system should make sense to others who shared with him not that arbitrary cipher-system but the traditional language of poetry. In this way he managed, sometimes at any rate, to have his cake and to eat it. The rough beast of the apocalyptic 'Second Coming,' and the spiralling falcon of the same poem, mean something in the system, but for the uninstructed reader they continue to mean something in terms of a broader system of cultural and linguistic conventions--the shared information codes upon which literature, like any other method of communication, depends. So too in the later plays, which analytic criticism tells us are very systematic, but which Yeats himself declared must conceal their esoteric substance and sound like old songs. So too with the Byzantium poems, and the Supernatural Songs; even a poem like 'The Statues,' which contains notions that are bound to see inexplicably strange to one who knows nothing of Yeats's historical and arthistorical opinions, takes its place in our minds not as a text which codes information more explicitly provided in On the Boiler but as one which in some measure our reading of the other poems, and the persona of the wild old man, can justify.Yeats, in a famous phrase which has occasionally floated free of its context, said that the System enabled him to hold together reality and justice in a single thought. Reality is, in this expression, the sense we have of a world irreducible to human plot and human desire for order; justice is the human order we find or impose upon it. The System is in fact all Justice; in combination with a sense of reality which has nothing whatever to do with it, it became a constituent of poems. The System is a plot, a purely human projection, though not more human than its apparent antithesis, reality, which is a human imagining of the inhuman. For a moment, in that expression, Yeats saw himself as an emperor dispensing equity, transcending both the fact and the pattern; it is what poets do. Only rarely did he forget that whatever devotes itself to justice at the expense of reality, is finally self-destructive. He might talk about the differences between the symbolic meanings of poetry and those 'emotional restless mimicries of the surface of life' which were for him the characteristics of 'popular realism,' but he understood very well the need for that 'moral element in poetry' which is 'the means whereby' it is 'accepted into the social order and becomes a part of life.' He understands the tension between a paradigmatic order where the price of a formal eternity is inhumanity, and the world of the dying generations; that is the subject of 'Sailing to Byzantium,' the poem I quoted at the outset of these talks. He was talking about this tension again in one of his last poems, when he distinguished between 'Players and painted stage'--the justice of formal poems--and 'the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart'--the human dirt and disorder that underlie them. The whole history of Yeats's style, which from the earliest times, before the turn of the century, he was trying to move towards colloquial uncertainty, reflects this regard for the reality that will not be reduced. In the end this modernism took on characteristic colours of violence, a sexual toughness and slang to represent what Yeats took to be a modern reality.

-Frank Kermode

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Dearest creature in creation,Study English pronunciation.I will teach you in my verseSounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.I will keep you, Suzy, busy,Make your head with heat grow dizzy.Tear in eye, your dress will tear.So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.Just compare heart, beard, and heard,Dies and diet, lord and word,Sword and sward, retain and Britain.(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)Now I surely will not plague youWith such words as plaque and ague.But be careful how you speak:Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;Cloven, oven, how and low,Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.Hear me say, devoid of trickery,Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,Exiles, similes, and reviles;Scholar, vicar, and cigar,Solar, mica, war and far;One, anemone, Balmoral,Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;Gertrude, German, wind and mind,Scene, Melpomene, mankind.Billet does not rhyme with ballet,Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.Blood and flood are not like food,Nor is mould like should and would.Viscous, viscount, load and broad,Toward, to forward, to reward.And your pronunciation’s OKWhen you correctly say croquet,Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,Friend and fiend, alive and live.Ivy, privy, famous; clamourAnd enamour rhyme with hammer.River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,Doll and roll and some and home.Stranger does not rhyme with anger,Neither does devour with clangour.Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,And then singer, ginger, linger,Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.Query does not rhyme with very,Nor does fury sound like bury.Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.Though the differences seem little,We say actual but victual.Refer does not rhyme with deafer.Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.Mint, pint, senate and sedate;Dull, bull, and George ate late.Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,Science, conscience, scientific.Liberty, library, heave and heaven,Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.We say hallowed, but allowed,People, leopard, towed, but vowed.Mark the differences, moreover,Between mover, cover, clover;Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,Chalice, but police and lice;Camel, constable, unstable,Principle, disciple, label.Petal, panel, and canal,Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,Senator, spectator, mayor.Tour, but our and succour, four.Gas, alas, and Arkansas.Sea, idea, Korea, area,Psalm, Maria, but malaria.Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.Doctrine, turpentine, marine.Compare alien with Italian,Dandelion and battalion.Sally with ally, yea, ye,Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.Say aver, but ever, fever,Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.Heron, granary, canary.Crevice and device and aerie.Face, but preface, not efface.Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.Large, but target, gin, give, verging,Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.Ear, but earn and wear and tearDo not rhyme with here but ere.Seven is right, but so is even,Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)Is a paling stout and spikey?Won’t it make you lose your wits,Writing groats and saying grits?It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,Islington and Isle of Wight,Housewife, verdict and indict.Finally, which rhymes with enough,Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?Hiccough has the sound of cup.My advice is to give up!!!

-Gerard Nolst

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That is the idea -- that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.You may think that I am going too far when I say that that is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, 'This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children.' Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue.That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. 'What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy.

-Bertrand Russell

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