Odysseus Elytis

But you must know that only he who fights the darkness within will the day after tomorrow have his own share in the sun.

You'll come to learn a great deal if you study the Insignificant in depth.

If a separate personal Paradise exists for each of us, mine must be irreparably planted with trees of words which the wind silvers like poplars, by people who see their confiscated justice given back, and by birds that even in the midst of truth of death insist on singing in Greek and saying eros, eros, eros.

Willing or not, we are all hostages of the joy of which we deprive ourselves. Here springs love’s pre-eternal sadness.

Poetry should express the apex, should constitute a kind of pioneering outpost in the unexplored area of life, should precede other arts in the depiction of sensitivity. It should be the word and sword intervening in the spirit, so that matter, docile, can follow. Creation, especially poetic, is above all a result.

In the final analysis, roses are nothing but tears. Nothing but the whistle of the leaving train and the breach of a promise. Sorrow, too, is nothing but an evening leaning on April.


Czesław Miłosz

Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.

In a room where
people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence,
one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.

To believe you are magnificent. And gradually to discover that you are not magnificent. Enough labor for one human life.

Language is the only homeland.

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, 
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

Yet falling in love is not the same as being able to love.

The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.

A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death - the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders we are not going to be judged.

The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason. The passionless cannot change history.

What has no shadow has no strength to live.

The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.


Elias Canetti

Relearn astonishment.

All things one has forgotten scream for help in dreams.

Travelling, one accepts everything; indignation stays at home. One looks, one listens, one is roused to enthusiasm by the most dreadful things because they are new. Good travellers are heartless.

A head full of stars, just not in constellation yet.

Understanding, as we understand it, is misunderstanding.

I cannot become modest; too many things burn in me; the old solutions are falling apart; nothing has been done yet with the new ones. So I begin, everywhere at once, as if I had a century ahead of me.

I want to keep smashing myself until I am whole.

It is always the enemy who started it, even if he was not the first to speak out, he was certainly planning it; and if he was not actually planning it, he was thinking of it; and, if he was not thinking of it, he would have thought of it.


Wole Soyinka

The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.

A tiger doesn't proclaim his tigritude, he pounces.

Romance is the sweetening of the soul
With fragrance offered by the stricken heart.

Some of us – poets are not exactly poets. We live sometimes – beyond the word.

The man dies in all those that keep silent.

Well, some people say I'm pessimistic because I recognize the eternal cycle of evil. All I say is, look at the history of mankind right up to this moment and what do you find?

Don't take shadows too seriously. Reality is your only safety. Continue to reject illusion.

The hand that dips into the bottom of the pot will eat the biggest snail.

Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress truth.

Today, the constituency of fear has become much broader, far less selective.

If you believe in democracy, are you not thereby obliged to accept, without discrimination, the fall-outs that come with a democratic choice, even if this means the termination of the democratic process itself?


Joseph Brodsky

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.

The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even—if you will—eccentricity.

For darkness restores what light cannot repair.

Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.

The fact that we are living does not mean we are not sick.

What concerns me is that man, unable to articulate, to express himself adequately, reverts to action. Since the vocabulary of action is limited, as it were, to his body, he is bound to act violently, extending his vocabulary with a weapon where there should have been an adjective.

When hit by boredom, let yourself be crushed by it; submerge, hit bottom. In general, with things unpleasant, the rule is: The sooner you hit bottom, the faster you surface. The idea here is to exact a full look at the worst. The reason boredom deserves such scrutiny is that it represents pure, undiluted time in all its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor.
Boredom is your window on the properties of time that one tends to ignore to the likely peril of one's mental equilibrium. It is your window on time's infinity. Once this window opens, don't try to shut it; on the contrary, throw it wide open.


Naguib Mahfouz

How do we grow up for this blue sky, and for the earth this greenness, and for the lord this crap, and for the heart this wonderful ability to love, and for this spirit the infinite energy of faith. How we are hungry and in the world we love them, and we admire them, and those who love us, and those who like us. 

Fear does not prevent death, but it prevents life.

Revolutions managed by the dahah and executed by the brave and then earned by the cowards.

What I most dreaded between what I want and what I can.

It is surprising that the people of our neighborhood laugh, what are they laughing at? They chant to the victor whoever wins, and cheers for the strong, whatever the strong, and prostrate before the Nabateans, so that they are guided by all the terror that is hidden in their depths.

Not the worst of bad luck but satisfaction with it.

If something lasts, the seasons will not go on?

Blessed are the fools, they are the happy ones.

It was not surprising that the Egyptians worshiped Pharaoh, but it is strange that Pharaoh really believed that he was a god.


Camilo José Cela

I, sir, am not bad, although I would not lack reasons to be so.

I'm not made to philosophize, I do not have the heart for it. My heart is more like a machine for making blood to be spilled in a knife fight ... 

The one who resists, wins.

The bad thing about those who believe they are in possession of the truth is that when they have to prove it, they do not succeed.

Things are never as we see them at first sight, and so it happens that when we start to see them up close, when we start working on them, they present us with such strange and even unknown aspects; such happens with the faces that we imagine, with the people we are going to know, that we make them in such a way or in the head, to forget them suddenly at the sight of the true. 

I continue to classify humanity - for my use, which is what matters to me, and may God forgive me - in friends and sons of bitches.

On the hinder slope of the hill two little goatherds are tending to flock of goats; one of them is sitting on a whittling rock to crook out of ash, while the other is trying to coax a few tweets out of a reed flute. 


Octavio Paz

Deserve your dream.

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.

Love is an attempt to penetrate another being, but it can only be realized if the surrender is mutual.

Beyond myself, somewhere, 
I wait for my arrival.

Because two bodies, naked and entwined,
leap over time, they are invulnerable,
nothing can touch them, they return to the source,
there is no you, no I, no tomorrow,
no yesterday, no names, the truth of two
in a single body, a single soul,
oh total being. . .

I don't believe that there are dangerous writers: the danger of certain books is not in the books themselves but in the passions of their readers.

It is always difficult to give oneself up; few persons anywhere ever succeed in doing so, and even fewer transcend the possessive stage to know love for what it actually is: a perpetual discovery, and immersion in the waters of reality, an unending re-creation.

This is perhaps the most noble aim of poetry, to attach ourselves to the world around us, to turn desire into love, to embrace, finally what always evades us, what is beyond, but what is always there – the unspoken, the spirit, the soul.


Nadine Gordimer

The truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is.

I have failed at many things, but I have never been afraid.

I'm a candle flame that sways in currents of air you can't see. You need to be the one who steadies me to burn.

Books don't need batteries.

What is the purpose of writing? For me personally, it is really to explain the mystery of life, and the mystery of life includes, of course, the personal, the political, the forces that make us what we are while there's another force from inside battling to make us something else.

The facts are always less than what really happened.

Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you've made sense of one small area.

My answer is: Recognize yourself in others.

The solitude of writing is also quite frightening. It's quite close to madness, one just disappears for a day and loses touch.

Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.

A truly living human being cannot remain neutral.


Wisława Szymborska

I'm old-fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.

When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.
When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.
When I pronounce the word nothing,
I make something no nonbeing can hold.

Let the people who never find true love
keep saying that there's no such thing.
Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

Every beginning, after all, is nothing but a sequel, and the book of events is always open in the middle.

I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.

At the very beginning of my creative life I loved humanity. I wanted to do something good for mankind. Soon I understood that it isn’t possible to save mankind.

Such certainty is beautiful, but uncertainty is more beautiful still.

I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.

When it comes, you’ll be dreaming
that you don’t need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it’s part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.

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