Living Now Magazine
“ I’m a writer. I don’t cook and I don’t clean…..Dear child this place is a mess – my papers are everywhere. It would be exhausting to clean up! When I was seven, I said to my mother, may I close the door? And she said yes, but why do you want to close the door? And I said because I want to think. And when I was eleven, I said to my mother, may I lock the door? And she said yes, but why do you want to lock the door? And I said because I want to write.”
Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.
One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.
And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.
I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget – I kept saying – that we are all children of the King.
For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.
We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.
Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago –
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef – they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.
I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.
“The experience of an enlarged intimacy is not the only reason to want art in our lives, but it is a central reason. The windows that break open the boundaries of a poem, piece of music, or painting do the same work: they awaken and give entrance to what might otherwise not be recognized, felt, or known as inseparably part of the story.”
“I can’t give up writing, and everywhere I turn I find the stuff I write sticking to me like fly paper, the gramophone inside me playing the same old tune: ‘ Admiration, admiration – You are my ideal – you are the one, original, cloistered genius, the tonsered wonder of the western world.’ It is not comforting to be such a confounded ape.”
” But then there was this shadow, this double, this writer who had followed me into the cloister. He is still on my track. I cannot lose him. He bears the name of Thomas Merton. Is it the name of an enemy? He is supposed to be dead….He generates books in the silence that ought to be sweet with the infinitely productive darkness of contemplation.”
” How necessary it is for monks to work in the fields, in the rain, in the sun, in the mud, in the clay, in the wind: these are our spiritual directors and our novice masters. They form our contemplation. They instil us with virtue. They make us as stable as the land we live on. You do not get that out of a typewriter.”
“ When Dylan Thomas was a young man he kept notebooks which he filled with words that appealed to him. He once wrote to his friend Pamela Hansford Johnson asking her if she did not think that ‘ drome ‘ was the loveliest word in the English language. Her reply is not recorded but Thomas’ work shows his fascination with words for their own sake and this continued throughout his life.”
The writer Liz Taylor
“ I should say I wanted to write poetry in the beginning because I had fallen in love with words. The first poems I knew were nursery rhymes and before I could read them for myself I had come to love the words of them. The words alone. What the words stood for was of a very secondary importance. […] I fell in love, that is the only expression I can think of, at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy. I tumbled for words at once. And, when I began to read the nursery rhymes for myself, and, later, to read other verses and ballads, I knew that I had discovered the most important things, to me, that could be ever. “
“What I like to do is treat words as a craftsman does his wood or stone or what – you – have, to hew, carve, mould, coil, polish. and plane them into patterns, sequences, sculptures, figures of sound expressing some lyrical impulse, some spiritual doubt or conviction, some dimly realized truth that I must try to reach and realize.”
“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”