American Expatriate Poet and Critic
"Real education must ultimately be limited to one who insists on knowing, the rest is mere sheep-herding."
"If a man isn't willing to take some risk for his opinions, either his opinions are no good or he's no good."
"No man understands a deep book until he has seen and lived at least a part of its contents. "
"The inexperienced teacher, fearing his own ignorance, is afraid to admit it. Perhaps that courage only come when one knows to what extent ignorance is almost universal."
"The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension. "
"A civilized man is one who will give a serious answer to a serious question. Civilization itself is a certain sane balance of values."
"A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness."
"A nation which neglects the perceptions of its artists declines. After a while it ceases to act, and merely survives. There is probably no use in telling this to people who can't see it without being told."
"All my life I believed I knew something. But then one strange day came when I realized that I knew nothing, yes, I knew nothing. And so words became void of meaning ... I have arrived too late at ultimate uncertainty."
"Adolf Hitler was a Jeanne d'Arc, a saint. He was a martyr. Like many martyrs, he held extreme views."
"All things are a-flowing,' sage Heraclitus says, but a tawdry cheapness shall outlast all days."
"Allow me to say that I would long since have committed suicide had desisting made me a professor of Latin."
"And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there... Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will."
"And round about there is a rabble of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor. They shall inherit the earth."
"And the days are not full enough and the nights are not full enough and life slips by like a field mouse not shaking the grass"
"Any general statement is like a check drawn on a bank. Its value depends on what is there to meet it."
"Anyone who is too lazy to master the comparatively small glossary necessary to understand Chaucer deserves to be shut out from the reading of good books forever."
"And the good writer chooses his words for their 'meaning', but that meaning is not a a set, cut-off thing like the move of knight or pawn on a chess-board. It comes up with roots, with associations, with how and where the word is familiarly used, or where it has been used brilliantly or memorably."
"Artists are the antennae of the race but the bullet-headed many will never learn to trust their great artists."
"At about this point the weak-hearted reader usually sits down in the road, removes his shoes and weeps that he 'is a bad linguist' or that he or she can't possibly learn all those languages. One has to divide the readers who want to be experts from those who do not, and divide, as it were, those who want to see the world from those who merely want to know what part of it they live in."
"As a bathtub lined with white porcelain, when the hot water gives out or goes tepid, so is the slow cooling of our chivalrous passion, o my much praised but-not-altogether-satisfactory lady."
"Come, let us pity those who are better off than we are. Come, my friend, and remember that The rich have butlers and no friends, And we have friends and no butlers."
"But the one thing you shd. not do is suppose that when something is wrong with the arts, it is wrong with the arts ONLY."
"Gloom and solemnity are entirely out of place in even the most rigorous study of an art originally intended to make glad the heart of man."
"Fit for kings, formal gardens afford an earthly Elysium and the odd impression that we mere men might actually control nature for a time."
"Good art however "immoral" is wholly a thing of virtue. ... Good art can NOT be immoral. By good art I mean art that bears true witness, I mean the art that is most precise."
"Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear. It doesn't matter whether the good writer wants to be useful, or whether the good writer wants to be harm."