composure

Nothing baffles the schemes of evil people so much as the calm composure of great souls.

Between these two unique and symmetrical events, something happens whose ambiguity has left the historians of medicine at a loss: blind repression in an absolutist regime, according to some; but according to others, the gradual discovery by science and philanthropy of madness in its positive truth. As a matter of fact, beneath these reversible meanings, a structure is forming which does not resolve the ambiguity but determines it. It is this structure which accounts for the transition from the medieval and humanist experience of madness to our own experience, which confines insanity within mental illness. In the Middle Ages and until the Renaissance, man's dispute with madness was a dramatic debate in which he confronted the secret powers of the world; the experience of madness was clouded by images of the Fall and the Will of God, of the Beast and the Metamorphosis, and of all the marvelous secrets of Knowledge. In our era, the experience of madness remains silent in the composure of a knowledge which, knowing too much about madness, forgets it. But from one of these experiences to the other, the shift has been made by a world without images, without positive character, in a kind of silent transparency which reveals— as mute institution, act without commentary, immediate knowledge—a great motionless structure; this structure is one of neither drama nor knowledge; it is the point where history is immobilized in the tragic category which both establishes and impugns it.

We are to take no counsel with flesh and blood; give ear to no vain cavils, vain sorrows and wishes; to know that we know nothing, that the worst and cruelest to our eyes is not what it seems, that we have to receive whatsoever befalls us as sent from God above, and say, It is good and wise,--God is great! Though He slay me, yet I trust in Him. Islam means, in its way, denial of self. This is yet the highest wisdom that heaven has revealed to our earth.

What good would politics be, if it didn’t give everyone the opportunity to make moral compromises.

To a Desolate Friend -
O friend, like some cold wind to-day
Your message came, and chilled the light;
Your house so dark, and mine so bright,—
I could not weep, I could not pray!

My wife and I had kissed at morn,
My children’s lips were full of song;
O friend, it seemed such cruel wrong,
My life so full, and yours forlorn!

We slept last night clasped hand in hand,
Secure and calm—and never knew
How fared the lonely hours with you,
What time those dying lips you fanned.

We dreamed of love, and did not see
The shadow pass across our dream;
We heard the murmur of a stream,
Not death’s for it ran bright and free.

And in the dark her gentle soul
Passed out, but oh! we knew it not!
My babe slept fast within her cot,
While yours woke to the slow bell’s toll.

She paused a moment,—who can tell?—
Before our windows, but we lay
So deep in sleep she went away,
And only smiled a sad farewell!

It would be like her; well we know
How oft she waked while others slept—
She never woke us when she wept,
It would be like her thus to go!

Ah, friend! you let her stray too far
Within the shadow-haunted wood,
Where deep thoughts never understood
Breathe on us and like anguish are.

One day within that gloom there shone
A heavenly dawn, and with wide eyes
She saw God’s city crown the skies,
Since when she hasted to be gone.

Too much you yielded to her grace;
Renouncing self, she thus became
An angel with a human name,
And angels coveted her face.

Earth’s door you set so wide, alack
She saw God’s gardens, and she went
A moment forth to look; she meant
No wrong, but oh! she came not back!

Dear friend, what can I say or sing,
But this, that she is happy there?
We will not grudge those gardens fair
Where her light feet are wandering.

The child at play is ignorant
Of tedious hours; the years for you
To her are moments: and you too
Will join her ere she feels your want.

The path she wends we cannot track:
And yet some instinct makes us know
Hers is the joy, and ours the woe,—
We dare not wish her to come back!

Kay Arr, said the nursemaid, and Septimus heard her say Kay Arr close to his ear, deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper's, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound which, concussing, broke. A marvelous discovery indeed - that the human voice in certain atmospheric conditions (for one must be scientific, above all scientific) can quicken trees into life!