American Poet, Short Story Writer, Critic and Satirist
"There's a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words."
"There's little in taking or giving there's little in water or wine this living, this living , this living was never a project of mine. Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is the gain of the one at the top for art is a form of catharsis and love is a permanent flop and work is the province of cattle and rest's for a clam in a shell so I'm thinking of throwing the battle would you kindly direct me to hell?"
"There was nothing separate about her days. Like drops on the window-pane, they ran together and trickled away."
"They say of me, and so they should, it's doubtful if I come to good. I see acquaintances and friends accumulating dividends and making enviable names in science, art and parlor games. But I, despite expert advice, keep doing things I think are nice, and though to good I never come inseparable my nose and thumb."
"There's life for you. Spend the best years of your life studying penmanship and rhetoric and syntax and Beowulf and George Eliot, and then somebody steals your pencil."
"This is me apologizing. I am a fool, a bird-brain, a liar and a horse-thief. I wouldn't touch a superlative again with an umbrella."
"This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it."
"To keep something, you must take care of it. More, you must understand just what sort of care it requires. You must know the rules and abide by them. She could do that. She had been doing it all the months, in the writing of her letters to him. There had been rules to be learned in that matter, and the first of them was the hardest: never say to him what you want him to say to you. Never tell him how sadly you miss him, how it grows no better, how each day without him is sharper than the day before. Set down for him the gay happenings about you, bright little anecdotes, not invented, necessarily, but attractively embellished. Do not bedevil him with the pinings of your faithful heart because he is your husband, your man, your love. For you are writing to none of these. You are writing to a soldier."
"To me, the raveled sleeve of care is never more painlessly knitted up than in an evening alone in a chair snug yet copious, with a good light and an easily held little volume sloppily printed and bound in inexpensive paper. I do not ask much of it - which is just as well, for that is all I get. It does not matter if I guess the killer, and if I happen to discover, along around page 208, that I have read the work before, I attribute the fact not to the less than arresting powers of the author, but to my own lazy memory. I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours. In all reverence I say Heaven bless the Whodunit, the soothing balm on the wound, the cooling hand on the brow, the opiate of the people."
"Travel, trouble, music, art, a kiss, a frock, a rhyme -- I never said they feed my heart, but still they pass my time."
"When I was young and bold and strong, the right was right, the wrong was wrong. With plume on high and flag unfurled, I rode away to right the world. But now Iâ€™m old - and good and bad, are woven in a crazy plaid. I sit and say the world is so, and wise is s/he who lets it go."
"Why is it no one sent me yet one perfect limousine, do you suppose? Ah no, it's always just my luck to get one perfect rose."
"Why, that dog is practically a Phi Beta Kappa. She can sit up and beg, and she can give her paw -- I don't say she will but she can."
"Woman wants monogamy; man delights in novelty. Love is woman's moon and sun; man has other forms of fun. Woman lives but in her lord; count to ten, and man is bored. With this the gist and sum of it, what earthly good can come of it?"
"You donâ€™t want a general houseworker, do you? Or a traveling companion, quiet, refined, speaks fluent French entirely in the present tense? Or an assistant billiard-maker? Or a private librarian? Or a lady car-washer? Because if you do, I should appreciate your giving me a trial at the job. Any minute now, I am going to become one of the Great Unemployed. I am about to leave literature flat on its face. I donâ€™t want to review books any more. It cuts in too much on my reading."
"Yet, as only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you'll live through the night."