If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?
by Emily Dickinson
“I have tried to write Paradise
Do not move
Let the wind speak
that is paradise.
Let the Gods forgive what I
Let those I love try to forgive
what I have made.”
― Ezra Pound
I have need of angels. Enough hell has swallowed me for too many years. But finally understand this—I have burned up one hundred thousand human lives already, from the strength of my pain.
by Antonin Artaud, Lettres à Génica Athanasiou
Filled with rapture, his soul yearned for freedom, space, vastness. Over him the heavenly dome, full of quiet, shining stars, hung boundlessly. From the zenith to the horizon the still-dim Milky Way stretched its double strand. Night, fresh and quiet, almost unstirring, enveloped the earth. The white towers and golden domes of the church gleamed in the sapphire sky. The luxuriant autumn asleep till morning. The silence of the earth seemed to merge with the silence of the heavens and the mystery of the earth touched the mystery of the stars.
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”
by Franz Kafka