How prone poor Humanity is to dam up the minutest remnants of its freedom, and build an artificial roof to prevent it looking up to the clear blue sky.
(E.T.A.W. (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Wilhelm) Hoffmann (1776-1822), German author, composer. The Serapion Brethren. By Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann, vol. I, sect. 1, p. 9, trans. by Alexander Ewing, George Bell and Sons (1908).
Cyprian to his fellow Serapion Brethren, about philistinism.)
New York ... is a city of geometric heights, a petrified desert of grids and lattices, an inferno of greenish abstraction under a flat sky, a real Metropolis from which man is absent by his very accumulation.
(Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. repr. In The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies, trans. by Richard Howard (1979). "Buffet Finishes Off New York," Arts (Paris, 1959).)
The new American finds his challenge and his love in the traffic-choked streets, skies nested in smog, choking with the acids of industry, the screech of rubber and houses leashed in against one another while the townlets wither a time and die.
(John Steinbeck (1902-1968), U.S. author. Travels With Charley: In Search of America, pt. 2 (1961).
Steinbeck added, "This is not offered in criticism but only as observation. And I am sure that, as all pendulums reverse their swing, so eventually will the swollen cities rupture like dehiscent wombs and disperse their children back to the countryside.")
Although sleep pressed upon my closing eyelids, and the moon, on her horses, blushed in the middle of the sky, nevertheless I could not leave off watching your play; there was too much fire in your two voices.
(Propertius Sextus (c. 50-16 B.C.), Roman elegist. Oxford Classical Text, I.10. 7-10.)