Writer George Saunders on reading, writing, and teaching – The New Yorker

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To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Mardell

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
       But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
       Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
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The Storm; Minerva’s Petition By Jonathan Swift

Pallas, a goddess chaste and wise
Descending lately from the skies,
To Neptune went, and begg’d in form
He’d give his orders for a storm;
A storm, to drown that rascal Hort,[1]
And she would kindly thank him for’t:
A wretch! whom English rogues, to spite her,
Had lately honour’d with a mitre.
The god, who favour’d her request,
Assured her he would do his best:
But Venus had been there before,
Pleaded the bishop loved a whore,
And had enlarged her empire wide;
He own’d no deity beside.
At sea or land, if e’er you found him
Without a mistress, hang or drown him.
Since Burnet’s death, the bishops’ bench,
Till Hort arrived, ne’er kept a wench;
If Hort must sink, she grieves to tell it,
She’ll not have left one single prelate:
For, to say truth, she did intend him,
Elect of Cyprus in commendam.
And, since her birth the ocean gave her,
She could not doubt her uncle’s favour.
Then Proteus urged the same request,
But half in earnest, half in jest;
Said he – “Great sovereign of the main,
To drown him all attempts are vain.
Hort can assume more forms than I,
A rake, a bully, pimp, or spy;
Can creep, or run, or fly, or swim;
All motions are alike to him:
Turn him adrift, and you shall find
He knows to sail with every wind;
Or, throw him overboard, he’ll ride
As well against as with the tide.
But, Pallas, you’ve applied too late;
For, ’tis decreed by Jove and Fate,
That Ireland must be soon destroy’d,
And who but Hort can be employ’d?
You need not then have been so pert,
In sending Bolton[2] to Clonfert.
I found you did it, by your grinning;
Your business is to mind your spinning.
But how you came to interpose
In making bishops, no one knows;
Or who regarded your report;
For never were you seen at court.
And if you must have your petition,
There’s Berkeley[3] in the same condition;
Look, there he stands, and ’tis but just,
If one must drown, the other must;
But, if you’ll leave us Bishop Judas,
We’ll give you Berkeley for Bermudas.[4]
Now, if ’twill gratify your spight,
To put him in a plaguy fright,
Although ’tis hardly worth the cost,
You soon shall see him soundly tost.
You’ll find him swear, blaspheme, and damn
(And every moment take a dram)
His ghastly visage with an air
Of reprobation and despair;
Or else some hiding-hole he seeks,
For fear the rest should say he squeaks;
Or, as Fitzpatrick[5] did before,
Resolve to perish with his whore;
Or else he raves, and roars, and swears,
And, but for shame, would say his prayers.
Or, would you see his spirits sink?
Relaxing downwards in a stink?
If such a sight as this can please ye,
Good madam Pallas, pray be easy.
To Neptune speak, and he’ll consent;
But he’ll come back the knave he went.”
The goddess, who conceived a hope
That Hort was destined to a rope,
Believed it best to condescend
To spare a foe, to save a friend;
But, fearing Berkeley might be scared,
She left him virtue for a guard.

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The Addams Family Cartoons by Charles Addams

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The Yule Guest By Bliss Carman (William)

And Yanna by the yule log
Sat in the empty hall,
And watched the goblin firelight
Caper upon the wall:

The goblins of the hearthstone,
Who teach the wind to sing,
Who dance the frozen yule away
And usher back the spring;

The goblins of the Northland,
Who teach the gulls to scream,
Who dance the autumn into dust,
The ages into dream.

Like the tall corn was Yanna,
Bending and smooth and fair,–
His Yanna of the sea-gray eyes
And harvest-yellow hair.

Child of the low-voiced people
Who dwell among the hills,
She had the lonely calm and poise
Of life that waits and wills.

Only to-night a little
With grave regard she smiled,
Remembering the morn she woke
And ceased to be a child.

Outside, the ghostly rampikes,
Those armies of the moon,
Stood while the ranks of stars drew on
To that more spacious noon,–

While over them in silence
Waved on the dusk afar
The gold flags of the Northern light
Streaming with ancient war.

And when below the headland
The riders of the foam
Up from the misty border rode
The wild gray horses home,

And woke the wintry mountains
With thunder on the shore,
Out of the night there came a weird
And cried at Yanna’s door.

“O Yanna, Adrianna,
They buried me away
In the blue fathoms of the deep,
Beyond the outer bay.

“But in the yule, O Yanna,
Up from the round dim sea
And reeling dungeons of the fog,
I am come back to thee!”

The wind slept in the forest,
The moon was white and high,
Only the shifting snow awoke
To hear the yule guest cry.

“O Yanna, Yanna, Yanna,
Be quick and let me in!
For bitter is the trackless way
And far that I have been!”

Then Yanna by the yule log
Starts from her dream to hear
A voice that bids her brooding heart
Shudder with joy and fear.

The wind is up a moment
And whistles at the eaves,
And in his troubled iron dream
The ocean moans and heaves.

She trembles at the door-lock
That he is come again,
And frees the wooden bolt for one
No barrier could detain.

“O Garvin, bonny Garvin,
So late, so late you come!”
The yule log crumbles down and throws
Strange figures on the gloom;

But in the moonlight pouring
Through the half-open door
Stands the gray guest of yule and casts
No shadow on the floor.

The change that is upon him
She knows not in her haste;
About him her strong arms with glad
Impetuous tears are laced.

She’s led him to the fireside,
And set the wide oak chair,
And with her warm hands brushed away
The sea-rime from his hair.

“O Garvin, I have waited,–
Have watched the red sun sink,
And clouds of sail come flocking in
Over the world’s gray brink,

“With stories of encounter
On plank and mast and spar;
But never the brave barque I launched
And waved across the bar.

“How come you so unsignalled,
When I have watched so well?
Where rides the Adrianna
With my name on boat and bell?”

“O Yanna, golden Yanna,
The Adrianna lies
With the sea dredging through her ports,
The white sand through her eyes.

“And strange unearthly creatures
Make marvel of her hull,
Where far below the gulfs of storm
There is eternal lull.

“O Yanna, Adrianna,
This midnight I am here,
Because one night of all my life
At yule tide of the year,

“With the stars white in heaven,
And peace upon the sea,
With all my world in your white arms
You gave yourself to me.

“For that one night, my Yanna,
Within the dying year,
Was it not well to love, and now
Can it be well to fear?”

“O Garvin, there is heartache
In tales that are half told;
But ah, thy cheek is pale to-night,
And thy poor hands are cold!

“Tell me the course, the voyage,
The ports, and the new stars;
Did the long rollers make green surf
On the white reefs and bars?”

“O Yanna, Adrianna,
Though easily I found
The set of those uncharted tides
In seas no line could sound,

“And made without a pilot
The port without a light,
No log keeps tally of the knots
That I have sailed to-night.

“It fell about mid-April;
The Trades were holding free;
We drove her till the scuppers hissed
And buried in the lee.

* * * * *

“O Yanna, Adrianna,
Loose hands and let me go!
The night grows red along the East,
And in the shifting snow

“I hear my shipmates calling,
Sent out to search for me
In the pale lands beneath the moon
Along the troubling sea.”

“O Garvin, bonny Garvin,
What is the booming sound
Of canvas, and the piping shrill,
As when a ship comes round?”

“It is the shadow boatswain
Piping his hands to bend
The looming sails on giant yards
Aboard the Nomansfriend.

“She sails for Sunken Harbor
And ports of yester year;
The tern are shrilling in the lift,
The low wind-gates are clear.

“O Yanna, Adrianna,
The little while is done.
Thou wilt behold the brightening sea
Freshen before the sun,

“And many a morning redden
The dark hill slopes of pine;
But I must sail hull-down to-night
Below the gray sea-line.

“I shall not hear the snowbirds
Their morning litany,
For when the dawn comes over dale
I must put out to sea.”

“O Garvin, bonny Garvin,
To have thee as I will,
I would that never more on earth
The dawn came over hill.”

* * * * *

Then on the snowy pillow,
Her hair about her face,
He laid her in the quiet room,
And wiped away all trace

Of tears from the poor eyelids
That were so sad for him,
And soothed her into sleep at last
As the great stars grew dim.

Tender as April twilight
He sang, and the song grew
Vague as the dreams which roam about
This world of dust and dew:

“O Yanna, Adrianna,
Dear Love, look forth to sea
And all year long until the yule,
Dear Heart, keep watch for me!

“O Yanna, Adrianna,
I hear the calling sea,
And the folk telling tales among
The hills where I would be.

“O Yanna, Adrianna,
Over the hills of sea
The wind calls and the morning comes,
And I must forth from thee.

“But Yanna, Adrianna,
Keep watch above the sea;
And when the weary time is o’er,
Dear Life, come back to me!”

“O Garvin, bonny Garvin–”
She murmurs in her dream,
And smiles a moment in her sleep
To hear the white gulls scream.

Then with the storm foreboding
Far in the dim gray South,
He kissed her not upon the cheek
Nor on the burning mouth,

But once above the forehead
Before he turned away;
And ere the morning light stole in,
That golden lock was gray.

“O Yanna, Adrianna–”
The wind moans to the sea;
And down the sluices of the dawn
A shadow drifts alee.

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Sue Grafton Quotes

As you may have heard/read, Sue Grafton passed away last Thursday. Today, we have a collection of her quotes.

“You can’t save others from themselves because those who make a perpetual muddle of their lives don’t appreciate your interfering with the drama they’ve created. They want your poor-sweet-baby sympathy, but they don’t want to change.”

“A woman should never, never, never be financially dependent to anyone, especially a man, because the minute you were dependent, you could be abused.”

“If high heels were so wonderful, men would still be wearing them.”

“There are days when none of us can bear it, but the good comes around again. Happiness is seasonal, like anything else. Wait it out. There are people who love you. People who can help.”

“Except for cases that clearly involve a homicidal maniac, the police like to believe murders are committed by those we know and love, and most of the time they’re right – a chilling thought when you sit down to dinner with a family of five. All those potential killers passing their plates.”

“I know there are people who believe you should forgive and forget. For the record, I’d like to say I’m a big fan of forgiveness as long as I’m given the opportunity to get even first.”

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Watch-Night by Mary Hannay Foott

Midnight, musical and splendid,
And the Old Year’s life is ended,
And the New, “born in the purple,” babe yet crowned, among us dwells;
While Creation’s welcome swells,
Starlight all the heavens pervading,
And the whole world serenading
Him, at birth, with all its bells!

Round the cradle of the tender
Flows the music, shines the splendor;
It is early yet for counsel, but bethink how Hermes gave,
(While the Myths were bright and brave),
Thwarted Phoebus no small battle,
Seeking back his lifted cattle,
Hour-old Hermes, in his cave!

New Year, if thy youth should blind us
Thy swift feet, perchance, may find us
Sleeping in the dark, unguarded, as the sun-god’s herds were found!
Lest, unready, on his round
We be hurried, World, take warning
That already it is morning
And a giant is unbound!

Idle-handed yet, but willing,
Let us ponder ere the filling
Of his empty eager fingers with our heedless hot behest.
Be our failures frank-confessed,
’Mid the gush of gladsome greeting
Requiem in our hearts repeating
For the years that died unblest.

How they came to us, so precious!
How abode with us, so gracious!
Blindly doing all our bidding; stronger, swifter than we thought.
Like the sprites by magic brought;
Shaping dream to action for us;
Till we stood, beset with sorrows,
Wondering what ourselves had wrought!

Ere the tightening of the tether
Bind THIS YEAR and us together,
Let us pause awhile and ponder, “Whither tend we side by side,
He who gallops, we who guide?
Once we start, like lost LENORE,
Sung in B?rger’s ballad-story,
Fast as ODIN’S Hunt, we ride!

 

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