I should have asked why any room in the house was better than home to me when she entered it, and barren as a desert when she went out again—why I always noticed and remembered the little changes in her dress that I had noticed and remembered in no other woman’s before—why I saw her, heard her, and touched her (when we shook hands at night and morning) as I had never seen, heard, and touched any other woman in my life?
Why should I blame her that she filled my daysWith misery, or that she would of late Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,Or hurled the little streets upon the great, Had they but courage equal to desire?What could have made her peaceful with a mindThat nobleness made simple as a fire,With beauty like a tightened bow, a kindThat is not natural in an age like thisBeing high and solitary and most stern?Why, what could she have done, being what she is?Was there another Troy for her to burn?
He should in humility have asked her why it was that he was naturally a cuckold, why two women of different temperaments and characters had been inspired to have lovers at his expense. He should be telling her, with the warmth of her body warming his, that his second wife had confessed to greater sexual pleasure when she remembered that she was deceiving him.
Why should each generation be brought up on the selective prejudices of the one before it? I believe that this is exactly the point of history. And not just reading or studying history but also approaching it with a sceptical bent of mind. When each generation approaches received wisdom with scepticism, perhaps it will reassess established notions of right and wrong, love and hate. Perhaps it will finally see mistaken priorities for what they really are. Perhaps it will do something that previous generations steadfastly refused to do.
Why, if one wants to compare life to anything, one must liken it to being blown through the Tube at fifty miles an hour--landing at the other end without a single hairpin in one's hair! Shot out at the feet of God entirely naked! Tumbling head over heels in the asphodel meadows like brown paper parcels pitched down a shoot in the post office! With one's hair flying back like the tail of a race-horse. Yes, that seems to express the rapidity of life, the perpetual waste and repair; all so casual, all so haphazard...But after life. The slow pulling down of thick green stalks so that the cup of the flower, as it turns over, deluges one with purple and red light. Why, after all, should one not be born there as one is born here, helpless, speechless, unable to focus one's eyesight, groping at the roots of the grass, at the toes of the Giants?
Why should a novelist not also be a historian? To force unnatural divisions within the English language is to work against its capacious and accommodating nature. To expect a writer to produce only novels, or only histories, is equivalent to demanding from a composer that he or she write only string quartets or piano sonatas.
MortalityOh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,He passes from life to his rest in the grave.The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,Be scattered around, and together be laid;And the young and the old, the low and the high,Shall molder to dust, and together shall lie.Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,Are mingled together in sunshine and rain;And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge,Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.'Tis the wink of an eye - 'tis the draught of a breath -From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroudOh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?