What is thy body but a swallowing grave,Seeming to bury that posterityWhich, by the rights of time, thou needs must haveIf thou destroy them not in dark obscurity?If so, the world will hold thee in disdain,Sith in thy pride so fair a hope is slain.
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What is thy body but a swallowing grave,Seeming to bury that posterityWhich, by the rights of time, thou needs must haveIf thou destroy them not in dark obscurity?If so, the world will hold thee in disdain,Sith in thy pride so fair a hope is slain.

-William Shakespeare

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What infinite heart's-easeMust kings neglect, that private men enjoy!And what have kings, that privates have not too,Save ceremony, save general ceremony?And what art thou, thou idle ceremony?What kind of god art thou, that suffer'st moreOf mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?What are thy rents? what are thy comings in?O ceremony, show me but thy worth!What is thy soul of adoration?Art thou aught else but place, degree and form,Creating awe and fear in other men?Wherein thou art less happy being fear'dThan they in fearing.What drink'st thou oft, instead of homage sweet,But poison'd flattery? O, be sick, great greatness,And bid thy ceremony give thee cure!Think'st thou the fiery fever will go outWith titles blown from adulation?Will it give place to flexure and low bending?Canst thou, when thou command'st the beggar's knee,Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream,That play'st so subtly with a king's repose;I am a king that find thee, and I know'Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball,The sword, the mace, the crown imperial,The intertissued robe of gold and pearl,The farced title running 'fore the king,The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pompThat beats upon the high shore of this world,No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony,Not all these, laid in bed majestical,Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave,Who with a body fill'd and vacant mindGets him to rest, cramm'd with distressful bread;Never sees horrid night, the child of hell,But, like a lackey, from the rise to setSweats in the eye of Phoebus and all nightSleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn,Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse,And follows so the ever-running year,With profitable labour, to his grave:And, but for ceremony, such a wretch,Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep,Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king.The slave, a member of the country's peace,Enjoys it; but in gross brain little wotsWhat watch the king keeps to maintain the peace,Whose hours the peasant best advantages.

-William Shakespeare

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To His Coy MistressHad we but world enough and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime. We would sit down, and think which way To walk, and pass our long love’s day. Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide Of Humber would complain. I would Love you ten years before the flood, And you should, if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews. My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires and more slow; An hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; Two hundred to adore each breast, But thirty thousand to the rest; An age at least to every part, And the last age should show your heart. For, lady, you deserve this state, Nor would I love at lower rate. But at my back I always hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity. Thy beauty shall no more be found; Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound My echoing song; then worms shall try That long-preserved virginity, And your quaint honour turn to dust, And into ashes all my lust; The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. Now therefore, while the youthful hue Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing soul transpires At every pore with instant fires, Now let us sport us while we may, And now, like amorous birds of prey, Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapped power. Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life: Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run.

-Andrew Marvell

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The missing remained missing and the portraits couldn't change that. But when Akhmed slid the finished portrait across the desk and the family saw the shape of that beloved nose, the air would flee the room, replaced by the miracle of recognition as mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, and cousin found in that nose the son, brother, nephew, and cousin that had been, would have been, could have been, and they might race after the possibility like cartoon characters dashing off a cliff, held by the certainty of the road until they looked down -- and plummeted is the word used by the youngest brother who, at the age of sixteen, is tired of being the youngest and hopes his older brother will return for many reasons, not least so he will marry and have a child and the youngest brother will no longer be youngest; that youngest brother, the one who has nothing to say about the nose because he remembers his older brother's nose and doesn't need the nose to mean what his parents need it to mean, is the one who six months later would be disappeared in the back of a truck, as his older brother was, who would know the Landfill through his blindfold and gag by the rich scent of clay, as his older brother had known, whose fingers would be wound with the electrical wires that had welded to his older brother's bones, who would stand above a mass grave his brother had dug and would fall in it as his older brother had, though taking six more minutes and four more bullets to die, would be buried an arm's length of dirt above his brother and whose bones would find over time those of his older brother, and so, at that indeterminate point in the future, answer his mother's prayer that her boys find each other, wherever they go; that younger brother would have a smile on his face and the silliest thought in his skull a minute before the first bullet would break it, thinking of how that day six months earlier, when they all went to have his older brother's portrait made, he should have had his made, too, because now his parents would have to make another trip, and he hoped they would, hoped they would because even if he knew his older brother's nose, he hadn't been prepared to see it, and seeing that nose, there, on the page, the density of loss it engendered, the unbelievable ache of loving and not having surrounded him, strong enough to toss him, as his brother had, into the summer lake, but there was nothing but air, and he'd believed that plummet was as close as they would ever come again, and with the first gunshot one brother fell within arms' reach of the other, and with the fifth shot the blindfold dissolved and the light it blocked became forever, and on the kitchen wall of his parents' house his portrait hangs within arm's reach of his older brother's, and his mother spends whole afternoons staring at them, praying that they find each other, wherever they go.

-Anthony Marra

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