daughter

I used to tell women graduate students, half-seriously, that the role of slightly rebellious daughter was one of the better roles for women living in patriarchy.

My daughter’s direct, spontaneous, and affectionate nature released me from many of the protective mechanisms I had developed, above all the fear that my love might be exploited. With her I had no need to protect myself. At last I could love, trust, and be tender without any apprehensions about my openness being misused for corrective educational purposes – as was the case with my mother – or my feelings being hurt. As I did not have the good fortune of enjoying an open and warmhearted relationship with my mother, this new opportunity for communication – for all its tragic aspects and the restrictions it brought with it – was more of a blessing than anything else… The spontaneity with which my daughter expressed her childlike, innocent, affectionate nature at whatever age she happened to be, and her sensitivity to insincerity and disingenuousness in whatever form, gave my life new dimensions and new objectives.

That was where the story of my childhood finally broke through. Today, I am convinced that I have only been willing and able to face up to my true feelings thanks to the existence of my daughter. She would tell me frankly and uninhibitedly what she saw in my pictures and what she felt about them, something that otherwise only very few people did. It was a kind of emotional communication which I found very precious… Without the relationship with my daughter I would have been even more remote from myself that I already was… In many ways it is only now, in retrospect, that I begin to appreciate something like the full extent of the boon my daughter has been to me.

When I wrote It Takes a Village ten years ago, our daughter Chelsea, a lively teen, was engaged with school, church, ballet, and friends. Now that Chelsea is grown up, I look back and see more clearly than ever how much we benefited from the village every step of the way and how much better off she is for having not just two parents, but other caring adults in her corner. And I have yet to meet a parent who didn't feel the same way.

Believe nothing a man tells you and everything he shows you....(Taken from a farewell video from a dying father to his infant daughter on dating)

Blues, spirituals, and folk tales recounted from mouth to mouth; the whispered words of a black mother to her black daughter on ways of men, to confidential wisdom of a black father to his son; the swapping of sex experiences on street corners from boy to boy in the deepest vernacular, work songs sung under blazing suns? All these formed the channels through which racial wisdom flowed.

A fluent tongue is the only thing a mother don't like her daughter to resemble her in.

I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning; I don't think so much learning becomes a young woman: for instance, I would never let her meddle with Greek, or Hebrew, or algebra, or simony, or fluxions, or paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of learning; nor will it be necessary for her to handle any of your mathematical, astronomical, diabolical instruments; but... I would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding-school, in order to learn a little ingenuity and artifice: then, sir, she would have a supercilious knowledge in accounts, and, as she grew up, I would have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries: this is what I would have a woman know; and I don't think there is a superstitious article in it.

Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price.

That beast of the Apocalypse, to whom is given a mouth speaking blasphemies, and to make war with the saints, is sitting on the throne of Peter, like a lion ready for his prey.

Gayety is to good humor, as animal perfumes to vegetable fragrance: the one overpowers weak spirits, the other recreates and revives them.

Pride is utter poverty of soul disguised as riches, imaginary light where in fact there is darkness.

Repentance lifts a man up. Mourning knocks at heaven's gate. Holy humility opens it.

Sociobiology is not just any statement that biology, genetics, and evolutionary theory have something to do with human behavior. Sociobiology is a specific theory about the nature of genetic and evolutionary input into human behavior. It rests upon the view that natural selection is a virtually omnipotent architect, constructing organisms part by part as best solutions to problems of life in local environments. It fragments organisms into traits, explains their existence as a set of best solutions, and argues that each trait is a product of natural selection operating for the form or behavior in question. Applied to humans, it must view specific behaviors (not just general potentials) as adaptations built by natural selection and rooted in genetic determinants, for natural selection is a theory of genetic change. Thus, we are presented with unproved and unprovable speculations about the adaptive and genetic basis of specific human behaviors: why some (or all) people are aggressive, xenophobic, religious, acquisitive, or homosexual.

The most futile thing in this world is any attempt, perhaps, at exact definition of character. All individuals are a bundle of contradictions — none more so than the most capable.

Bear your faithful ministers upon your hearts when you are wrestling with God. They can tell when they want your prayers, and when they enjoy your prayers. Did you pray more for them, they might do more for your internal and eternal good than they do now.

A man has a right to use a saw, an axe, a plane, separately; may he not combine their uses on the same piece of wood? He has a right to use his knife to cut his meat, a fork to hold it; may a patentee take from him the right to combine their use on the same subject? Such a law, instead of enlarging our conveniences, as was intended, would most fearfully abridge them, and crowd us by monopolies out of the use of the things we have.

Out of the poisonous East,
Over a continent of blight,
Like a maleficent Influence released
From the most squalid cellerage of hell,
The Wind-Fiend, the abominable--
The Hangman Wind that tortures temper and light--
Comes slouching, sullen and obscene,
Hard on the skirts of the embittered night;
And in a cloud unclean
Of excremental humours, roused to strife
By the operation of some ruinous change,
Wherever his evil mandate run and range,
Into a dire intensity of life,
A craftsman at his bench, he settles down
To the grim job of throttling London Town.
So, by a jealous lightlessness beset
That might have oppressed the dragons of old time
Crunching and groping in the abysmal slime,
A cave of cut-throat thoughts and villainous dreams,
Hag-rid and crying with cold and dirt and wet,
The afflicted City. prone from mark to mark
In shameful occultation, seems
A nightmare labryrinthine, dim and drifting,
With wavering gulfs and antic heights, and shifting,
Rent in the stuff of a material dark,
Wherein the lamplight, scattered and sick and pale,
Shows like the leper's living blotch of bale:
Uncoiling monstrous into street on street
Paven with perils, teeming with mischance,
Where man and beast go blindfold and in dread,
Working with oaths and threats and faltering feet
Somewhither in the hideousness ahead;
Working through wicked airs and deadly dews
That make the laden robber grin askance
At the good places in his black romance,
And the poor, loitering harlot rather choose
Go pinched and pined to bed
Than lurk and shiver and curse her wretched way
From arch to arch, scouting some threepenny prey.
Forgot his dawns and far-flushed afterglows,
His green garlands and windy eyots forgot,
The old Father-River flows,
His watchfires cores of menace in the gloom,
As he came oozing from the Pit, and bore,
Sunk in his filthily transfigured sides,
Shoals of dishonoured dead to tumble and rot
In the squalor of the universal shore:
His voices sounding through the gruesome air
As from the Ferry where the Boat of Doom
With her blaspheming cargo reels and rides:
The while his children, the brave ships,
No more adventurous and fair,
Nor tripping it light of heel as home-bound brides,
But infamously enchanted,
Huddle together in the foul eclipse,
Or feel their course by inches desperately,
As through a tangle of alleys murder-haunted,
From sinister reach to reach out -- out -- to sea.
And Death the while --
Death with his well-worn, lean, professional smile,
Death in his threadbare working trim--
Comes to your bedside, unannounced and bland,
And with expert, inevitable hand
Feels at your windpipe, fingers you in the lung,
Or flicks the clot well into the labouring heart:
Thus signifying unto old and young,
However hard of mouth or wild of whim,
'Tis time -- 'tis time by his ancient watch -- to part
From books and women and talk and drink and art.
And you go humbly after him
To a mean suburban lodging: on the way
To what or where
Not Death, who is old and very wise, can say:
And you -- how should you care
So long as, unreclaimed of hell,
The Wind-Fiend, the insufferable,
Thus vicious and thus patient, sits him down
To the black job of burking London Town?

The Couch of Death -

The veiled evening walked solitary down the western hills, and Silence reposed in the valley; the birds of day were heard in their nests, rustling in brakes and thickets; and the owl and bat flew round the darkening trees: all is silent when Nature takes her repose.—In former times, on such an evening, when the cold clay breathed with life, and our ancestors, who now sleep in their graves, walked on the steadfast globe, the remains of a family of the tribes of Earth, a mother and a sister, were gathered to the sick bed of a youth. Sorrow linked them together; leaning on one another’s necks alternately—like lilies dropping tears in each other’s bosom—they stood by the bed like reeds bending over a lake, when the evening drops trickle down. His voice was low as the whisperings of the woods when the wind is asleep, and the visions of Heaven unfold their visitation. ‘Parting is hard and death is terrible; I seem to walk through a deep valley, far from the light of day, alone and comfortless! The damps of death fall thick upon me! Horrors stare me in the face! I look behind, there is no returning; Death follows after me; I walk in regions of Death, where no tree is, without a lantern to direct my steps, without a staff to support me.’ Thus he laments through the still evening, till the curtains of darkness were drawn. Like the sound of a broken pipe, the aged woman raised her voice. ‘O my son, my son, I know but little of the path thou goest! But lo! there is a God, who made the world; stretch out thy hand to Him.’ The youth replied, like a voice heard from a sepulchre, ‘My hand is feeble, how should I stretch it out? My ways are sinful, how should I raise mine eyes? My voice hath used deceit, how should I call on Him who is Truth? My breath is loathsome, how should He not be offended? If I lay my face in the dust, the grave opens its mouth for me; if I lift up my head, sin covers me as a cloak. O my dear friends, pray ye for me! Stretch forth your hands that my Helper may come! Through the void space I walk, between the sinful world and eternity! Beneath me burns eternal fire! O for a hand to pluck me forth!’ As the voice of an omen heard in the silent valley, when the few inhabitants cling trembling together; as the voice of the Angel of Death, when the thin beams of the moon give a faint light, such was this young man’s voice to his friends. Like the bubbling waters of the brook in the dead of night, the aged woman raised her cry, and said, ‘O Voice, that dwellest in my breast, can I not cry, and lift my eyes to Heaven? Thinking of this, my spirit is turned within me into confusion! O my child, my child, is thy breath infected? so is mine. As the deer wounded, by the brooks of water, so the arrows of sin stick in my flesh; the poison hath entered into my marrow.’ Like rolling waves upon a desert shore, sighs succeeded sighs; they covered their faces and wept. The youth lay silent, his mother’s arm was under his head; he was like a cloud tossed by the winds, till the sun shine, and the drops of rain glisten, the yellow harvest breathes, and the thankful eyes of the villagers are turned up in smiles. The traveller, that hath taken shelter under an oak, eyes the distant country with joy. Such smiles were seen upon the face of the youth: a visionary hand wiped away his tears, and a ray of light beamed around his head. All was still. The moon hung not out her lamp, and the stars faintly glimmered in the summer sky; the breath of night slept among the leaves of the forest; the bosom of the lofty hill drank in the silent dew, while on his majestic brow the voice of Angels is heard, and stringed sounds ride upon the wings of night. The sorrowful pair lift up their heads, hovering Angels are around them, voices of comfort are heard over the Couch of Death, and the youth breathes out his soul with joy into eternity.