The roaring of the wind is my wife and the stars through the window pane are my children. The mighty abstract idea I have of beauty in all things stifles the more divided and minute domestic happiness.
(John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Oct. 14-31, 1818, to his brother and sister-in-law. Letters of John Keats, no. 94, ed. Frederick Page (1954).
George and Georgiana Keats, married in June of that year and recently settled in the United States, had urged the poet to think of starting a family.)
And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there.... Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.
(Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. "Patria Mia," New Age (London, Sept. 18, 1912).)
The shows of the day, the dewy morning, the rainbow, mountains, orchards in blossom, stars, moonlight, shadows in still water, and the like, if too eagerly hunted, become shows merely, and mock us with their unreality.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Nature, ch. 3 (1836, revised and repr. 1849).
Here Emerson articulates his vision of knowing as form of receptivity, rather than a grasping activity. Instead of saying "I've got it" when we understand something, Emerson would have us say "It has got me.")
I have heard the voice of a hound, just before daylight, while the stars were shining, from over the woods and river, far in the horizon, when it sounded as sweet and melodious as an instrument.
(Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 40, Houghton Mifflin (1906).)
If I venture to displace ... the microscopical speck of dust... on the point of my finger,... I have done a deed which shakes the Moon in her path, which causes the Sun to be no longer the Sun, and which alters forever the destiny of multitudinous myriads of stars.
(Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), U.S. author. Eureka, George P. Putnam (1848).
Prefiguring the "butterfly effect.")
Great men, unknown to their generation, have their fame among the great who have preceded them, and all true worldly fame subsides from their high estimate beyond the stars.
(Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 363, Houghton Mifflin (1906).)
The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. Every day, the sun; and after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Oration, August 31, 1837, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The American Scholar," repr. In Emerson: Essays and Lectures, ed. Joel Porte (1983).)