The Illiad, or The Poem of Force
The true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad is force. Force employed by man, force that enslaves man, force before which man’s flesh shrinks away. In this work, at all times, the human spirit is shown as modified by its relations with force, as swept away, blinded, by the very force it imagined it could handle, as deformed by the weight of the force it submits to. For those dreamers who considered that force, thanks to progress, would soon be a thing of the past, the Iliad could appear as an historical document; for others, whose powers of recognition are more acute and who perceive force, today as yesterday, at the very center of human history, the Iliad is the purest and the loveliest of mirrors.
Thus war effaces all conceptions of purpose or goal, including even its own “war aims.” It effaces the very notion of war’s being brought to an end. To be outside a situation so violent as this is to find it inconceivable; to be inside it is to be unable to conceive its end.
The Iliad, or The Poem of Force, by Simone Weil

"Well, let smiles buy me! have you more to spend?"
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?"

Andrea del Sarto, by Robert Browning

Put a poem up on the wall, cross off one word a day.

On Percy Bysshe Shelley
West Wind, 8
The young, tall English poet–soon to die, soon to sail on his small boat into the blue haze and then the storm and then under the gray waves’ spinning threshold–went over to Pisa to meet a friend; met him; spent with him a sunny afternoon. I love this poet, which means nothing here or there, but is like a garden in my heart. So my love is a gift to myself. And I think of him, on that July afternoon in Pisa, while his friend Hunt told him stories pithy and humorous, of their friends in England, so that he began to laugh, so that his tall, lean body shook, and his long legs couldn’t hold him, and he had to lean up against the building, seized with laughter, abundant and unstoppable; and so he leaned in the wild sun, against the stones of the building, with the tears flying from his eyes–full of foolishness, howling, hanging on to the stones, crawling with laughter, clasping his own body as it began to fly apart in the nonsense, the sweetness, the intelligence, the bright happiness falling, like tiny gold flowers, like the sunlight itself, the lilt of Hunt’s voice, on this simple afternoon, with a friend, in Pisa.

  • Mary Oliver

New favorite word.

Poems by Zbigniew Herbert
including "Report from the Besieged City"

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