O for the gentleness of old Romance, the simple planning of a minstrel's song!
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O for the gentleness of old Romance, the simple planning of a minstrel’s song!

-John Keats

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Ser ou não ser, eis a questão. O que é mais nobre para a alma? Sofrer as pedradas e as setas da fortuna ultrajosa ou tomar armas contra um mar de tribulações e, fazendo-lhes rosto, dar-lhes fim? Morrer... dormir... mais nada. Dizer que, por meio de um sono, acabamos com as angústias e com os mil embates naturais de que é herdeira a carne é um desfecho que se deve ardentemente desejar. Morrer... dormir... dormir! Sonhar talvez! Ah! Aqui é que está o embaraço. Pois que sonhos podem sobrevir naquele sono da morte depois de nos termos libertado deste bulício mortal? Eis o que nos obriga a fazer pausa; eis a reflexão de que procede a calamidade de uma vida tão longa. Com efeito, quem suportaria os açoites e os escárnios desta época, a injustiça do opressor, a contumélia do orgulhoso, os tormentos do amor desprezado, as dilações da lei, a insolência do poder e os maus tratos que o mérito paciente recebe de criaturas indignas, podendo com um simples punhal outorgar a si mesmo tranquilidade? Quem quereria sopesar o fardo, gemer e suar debaixo de uma vida pesadíssima, se o temor dalguma coisa depois da morte - o desconhecido país de cujas raias nenhum viajante ainda voltou - não enleasse a vontade e não fizesse antes padecer os males que temos, do que voar para outros que ignoramos? Assim, a consciência torna-nos a todos covardes; assim o fulgor natural da resolução é amortecido pelo pálido clarão do pensamento; e, assim, empresas enérgicas e de grande alcance torcem o caminho, e perdem o nome de ação.

-William Shakespeare

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The VoyagerWe are all lonely voyagers sailing on life's ebb tide,To a far off place were all stripling warriors have died,Sometime at eve when the tide is low,The voices call us back to the rippling water's flow,Even though our boat sailed with love in our hearts,Neither our dreams or plans would keep heaven far apart,We drift through the hush of God's twilight pale,With no response to our friendly hail,We raise our sails and search for majestic light,While finding company on this journey to the brighten our night,Then suddenly he pulls us through the reef's cutting sea,Back to the place that he asked us to be,Friendly barges that were anchored so sweetly near,In silent sorrow they drop their salted tears,Shall our soul be a feast of kelp and brine,The wasted tales of wishful time,Are we a fish on a line lured with bait,Is life the grind, a heartless fate,Suddenly, "HUSH", said the wind from afar,Have you not looked to the heavens and seen the new star,It danced on the abyss of the evening sky,The sparkle of heaven shining on high,Its whisper echoed on the ocean's spray,From the bow to the mast they heard him say,"Hope is above, not found in the deep,I am alive in your memories and dreams when you sleep,I will greet you at sunset and with the moon's evening smile,I will light your path home.. every last lonely mile,My friends, have no fear, my work was done well,In this life I broke the waves and rode the swell,I found faith in those that I called my crew,My love will be the compass that will see you through,So don't look for me on the ocean's floor to find,I've never left the weathered docks of your loving mind,For I am in the moon, the wind and the whale's evening song,I am the sailor of eternity whose voyage is not gone.

-Shannon L. Alder

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Long before there were effective treatments, physicians dispensed prognoses, hope, and, above all, meaning. When something terrible happens-and serious disease is always terrible-people want to know why. In a pantheistic world, the explanation was simple-one god had caused the problem, another could cure it. In the time since people have been trying to get along with only one God, explaining disease and evil has become more difficult. Generations of theologians have wrestled with the problem of theodicy-how can a good God allow such bad things to happen to good people? Darwinian medicine can't offer a substitute for such explanations. It can't provide a universe in which events are part of a divine plan, much less one in which individual illness reflects individual sins. It can only show us why we are the way we are, why we are vulnerable to certain diseases. A Darwinian view of medicine simultaneously makes disease less and more meaningful. Diseases do not result from random or malevolent forces, they arise ultimately from past natural selection. Paradoxically, the same capacities that make us vulnerable to disease often confer benefits. The capacity for suffering is a useful defense. Autoimmune disease is a price of our remarkable ability to attack invaders. Cancer is the price of tissues that can repair themselves. Menopause may protect the interests of our genes in existing children. Even senescence and death are not random, but compromises struck by natural selection as it inexorably shaped out bodies to maximize the transmission of our genes. In such paradoxical benefits, some may find a gentle satisfaction, even a bit of meaning-at least the sort of meaning Dobzhansky recognized. After all, nothing in medicine makes sense except in the light of evolution.

-Randolph M.

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A sound interrupted him; a frail quivering sound, a voice bubbling up without direction, vigour, beginning or end, running weakly and shrilly and with an absence of all human meaning intoee um fah sofoo swee too eem oo--the voice of no age or sex, the voice of an ancient spring spouting from the earth; which issued, just opposite regent's Park Tube station from a tall quivering shape, like a funnel, like a rusty pump, like a wind-beaten tree for ever barren of leaves which lets the wind run up and down its branches singingee um fah sofoo swee too eem ooand rocks and creaks and moans in the eternal breeze. Through all the ages - when the pavement was grass, when it was swamp, through the ages of tusk and mammoth, through the age of silent sunrise, the battered woman - for she wore a skirt - with her right hand exposed, her left clutching at her side, stood singing of love - love which has lasted a million years, she sang, love which prevails, and millions of years ago, her lover, who had been dead these centuries, had walked, she crooned, with her in May; but in the course of ages, long as summer days, and flaming, she remembered, with nothing but red asters, he had gone; death's enormous sickle had swept those tremendous hills, and when at last she laid her hoary and immensely aged head on the earth, now become a mere cinder of ice, she implored the Gods to lay by her side a bunch of purple heather, there on her high burial place which the last ruined rays of the last sun caressed; for then the pageant of the universe would be over.As the ancient song bubbled up opposite Regent's Park Tube station still the earth seemed green and flowery; still, though it issued from so rude a mouth, a mere hole in the earth, muddy too, matted with root fibres and tangled grasses, still the old bubbling burbling song, soaking through the knotted roots of infinite ages, and skeletons and treasure, streamed away in rivulets over the pavement and all along Marylebone Road, and down towards Euston, fertilising, leaving a damp stain.Still remembering how once in some primeval May she had walked with her lover, this rusty pump, this battered old woman with one hand exposed for coppers the other side clutching her side, would still be there in ten million years, remembering how once she had walked in May, where the sea flows now, with whom it did not matter - he was a man, oh yes, a man who had loved her. but the passage of ages had blurred the clarity of that ancient May day; the bright petalled flowers were hoar and silver frosted; and she no longer saw, when she implored him (as she did not quite clearly) "look in my eyes with thy sweet eyes intently," she no longer saw brown eyes, black whiskers or sunburnt face but only a looming shape, a shadow shape, to which, with the bird-like freshness of the very aged she still twittered "give me your hand and let me press it gently" (Peter Walsh could not help giving the poor creature a coin as he stepped into his taxi), "and if some one should see, what matter they?" she demanded; and her fist clutched at her side, and she smiled, pocketing her shilling, and all peering inquisitive eyes seemed blotted out, and the passing generations - the pavement was crowded with bustling middle-class people - vanished, like leaves, to be trodden under, to be soaked and steeped and made mould of by that eternal spring - ee um fah um soofoo swee too eem oo

-Virginia Woolf

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