Art of the Day: Two Quotes to Live By from Whitman & Rilke

  August 6th, 2011

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

         Whitman, from the Preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass

                 ”Let him whose soul is no longer startled
and transformed by palaces, by gardens’ boldness, by the rising
and falling of ancient fountains, by everything held back
in paintings or by the infinite thereness of statues –
let such a person go out to his daily work, where
greatness is lying in ambush and someday, at some turn,
will leap upon him and force him to fight for his life.”

         Rilke, 1912, from a “Duino Elegies” fragment, trans. Stephen Mitchell

[posted by C Way at 12:59 PM]


[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| poetry ]

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