Laura Riding quotes and sayings
January 16, 1901
September 2, 1991
Women from earliest times have been used as conveniences of communication with unseen, inaccessible powers, but always in the sense that such exposing of self to dangerous mysteries, such destruction of the understanding as was required to become the slave of unseen powers, did not matter because the communicant was only a woman, in herself an undetermined cipher - a nothing.
The sciences that purport to treat of human things -- the new scientific storyings of the social, the political, the racial or ethnic, and the psychic, nature of human beings -- treat not of human things but mere things, things that make up the physical, or circumstantial, content of human life but are not of the stuff of humanity, have not the human essence in them.
Learning can be a bridge between doing and thinking. But then there is a danger that the person who uses learning as a bridge between doing and thinking may get stuck in learning and never get on to thinking.
When modernist poetry, or what not so long ago passed for modernist poetry, can reach the stage where the following piece by Mr. Ezra Pound is seriously offered as a poem, there is some justification for the plain reader and orthodox critic who shrinks from anything that may be labelled 'modernist' either in terms of condemnation or approbation. Better he thinks, that ten authentic poets should be left for posterity to discover than one charlatan should be allowed to steal into the Temple of Fame.
The object of all religious activity is to mingle the human and the non-human, and the lower gods represent that which is cast back to the human from the non-human - human gods merely, practice-gods who embody the errors which man makes in first conceiving the non-human.
Euripides seems to have felt that the dignified perfection of Sophocles could be challenged only by novelty and irresponsibility. The religious conditions of the Dionysian festival kept him within certain bounds. But within the imposed limits Euripides was as profane as he dared to be, making melodrama of the divine realities which his predecessors accepted religiously, using the stage merely as a convenience for popularizing his own eccentric values.
Metaphor is, as a common feature of linguistic practice, an incidental expediency, a homely administering of first-aid by mother-wit to jams or halts in expression suddenly confronting speakers, with no respectable linguistic solution immediately in sight.
we shall know that we have begun to speak true by an increased hunger for true-speaking; we shall have the whole hunger only after we have given ourselves the first taste of it.
Pseudo-modernists pursue individual style because they know they cannot make a name without it; but if they had lived in the eighteenth century their sole object would have been to write correctly, to conform to the manner of the period. In practice, their conforming individualism means an imitation, studiously concealed, of the eccentricities of poems which really are individual.
In religion is much tiredness of people, a giving over of their doing to Someone Else.
Poetry is a sleep-maker for that which sits up late in us listening for the footfall of the future on to-day's doorstep.
When ... I comprehended that poetry had no provision in it for ultimate practical attainment of the rightness of work that is truth, but led on ever only to a temporizing less- than-truth ... I stopped.
Shakespeare alternated between musical surrenders to social prestige and magnificent fits of poetic remorse.
Myth is a tale once believed as truth; believed, it is not myth, but religion. A tale once religiously believed that has come to be called a myth is something of religion corrupted with disbelief. What are beliefs for some societies but myths for others cannot fill spiritual vacancies in the life of those others.
Much of the magical effect that poetry gives of rendering everything it touches pellucid comes from the necessity of compression that it imposes. The impossibility of pausing in poetry as long as may be needed to make sense clear causes many a set of words actually deficient in linguistic workmanship to pass for an eloquent brevity.
Women, ever since there have been women, have had a way of being people.
Truth rings no bells.
Anger is precious because it is an immediate, undeniable clue to what our minds will not tolerate.
Polygamy and polyandry distribute the frightening physical solidarity of monogamy. Monogamous couples are always hungry for company: to dilute sex.
To a poet the mere making of a poem can seem to solve the problem of truth, but only a problem of art is solved in poetry.
Daisy was a consciously happy young woman without any of the usual endowments that make for conscious happiness, money apart. She was not pretty, she was not clever, she had no friends, no talents, nor even an imagination to make her think she was happy when she was really miserable. As she was never miserable, she had no need of an imagination.
Woman has two works to perform: a work of differentiation, of man from herself, and a work of unification, of man with herself.... We, woman, are now entering upon our second work.
Poetry brings all possible experience to the same degree: a degree in the consciousness beyond which the consciousness itself cannot go.
If you find something to tell, tell it to your truest, though that make little to tell; the truer you speak, the more you will know to tell.
The anthology meets with two different kinds of reactions in living poets. They will either write toward the anthology or away from it. Anti-anthology poets often overreach themselves, inflicting protective distortions on their work - as parents in old Central Europe often deliberately maimed their sons to save them from compulsory military service.
I am not 'in pursuit of truth.' It is not my 'quarry.' I am of my human nature a thinker, and conscious of need, responsibility of thinking-speaking with truth. I do not go about hunting 'truths.'.
rummaging in the storehouses of religious or literary history for myth-matter for ideational uses is of the nature of spiritual vulgarity.
Spiritually, the society we have is the society of men with women present only in adjunctive relation to them, not the society of men and women in reciprocal relation. We do not have the society of human beings.
Because most people are not sufficiently employed in themselves, they run about loose, hungering for employment, and satisfy themselves in various supererogatory occupations. The easiest of these occupations, which have all to do with making things already made, is the making of people: it is called the art of friendship.
Art indeed is a term referring to the social source and to the social utility of creative acts.
A religion addresses the longing in us to have that said from which we can go on to speak of next and next things rightly, in their immediate time - the telling of what came first and before done forever.
Every woman must live by some sense of victory over disappointments, and Olympias was not the sort of woman to find compensation in her own powers of self-control and endurance.
I would then say that there are two kinds of feeling. The first is to feel in the sense of concentrating your emotions on something immediately available for your understanding: you make your understanding out of the emotions you have about it. The second is to feel in the sense of being affected without trying to understand: something is felt, you do not know what, and it is more important to feel it than to try to understand it, since once you try to understand it you no longer feel it.
To tell one comprehensive story of how it has happened that what is is, one which shall hold true, come what may, now-after - a story that whatever comes shall perfectly continue or confirm: such is the ideal motive of religions.
The end of poetry is not to create a physical condition which shall give pleasure to the mind... The end of poetry is not an after-effect, not a pleasurable memory of itself, but an immediate, constant and even unpleasant insistence upon itself.
The rhythmic pattern of the poem, which forces continuity of attention - incites a pleasurable compulsion to 'follow' - is either a tried metrical suasion-contrivance or a specially invented pattern of physical insistences, equally, if not more, binding in its effect on the reader. From a straight linguistic point of view, there is room for wonder if there is not latent vice in this environment in which pleasurable physically-compelled responses, produced by incidents of poetic utterance, are identified with the Good.
How our story has been divided up among the truth-telling professions! Religion, philosophy, history, poetry, compete with each other for our ears; and science competes with all together. And for each we have a different set of ears. But, though we hear much, what we are told is as nothing: none of it gives us ourselves, rather each story-kind steals us to make its reality of us.
My function as a writer is not story-telling but truth-telling: to make things plain.
Appearances do not deceive if there are enough of them.
There can be no literary equivalent to truth.
Politics have always covered two distinct kinds of problems: problems of administrative routine, and those that may be called 'questions of the moment.' A question of the moment is, indeed, a substitute for some notion, such as the idea of God, or hereditary monarchy, or national glory, that has hitherto acted as a symbol of human co-ordination. It provides no new positive certainty to replace the discredited certainty, but is what the name implies: the raising of a question which the old certainty no longer answers.
Until the missing story of ourselves is told, nothing besides told can suffice us: we shall go on quietly craving it.
'God' is the name given to the most 'important' human idea. In English, as in other languages, the original sense of the word is obscure. But the character of the name is the same in all languages: it is a question. 'God' is the question 'Is there something more important than, something besides, man?'.
Woman is the symbol to man of the uncleanness of bodily existence, of which he purifies himself by putting her to noble uses. She thus has for him a double, contradictory significance; she is the subject of his bawdry and the subject of his romance.
The new "ambiguity" means, in a way adjudged favorable to literary, poetic, intellectually and psychologically well-devised and praiseworthily executed linguistic performance, uncertainty of meaning, or difficulty for the interpreter in identifying just what the meaning in question is: it means the old meanings of ambiguity with a difference. It means uncertainty of meaning purposefully incorporated in a literary composition for the attainment of the utmost possible variety of meaning-play compressible within the verbal limits of the composition.
Every thought sounds like a footfall, Till a thought like a boot kicks down the wall.
I feel an intense intimacy with those who have this loathing interest in me. Further than this, I know what they mean, I sympathize with them, I understand them. There should be a name for this relationship between loather and loathed; it is of the closest and more full of passion than incest.
whatever is not happening now is unimportant; it is merely curious.
I believe that misconceptions about oneself that one does not correct where possible act as a bad magic.
The problem of good and evil is not the problem of good and evil, but only the problem of evil. In opposition to good there are evil characters, but there are no good characters in opposition to evil. Evil is arguable, but good is not. Therefore the Devil always wins the argument.
What second love could she Olympias make out of her ruined first love? The second love that most women make out of their first love for husbands grows from a mutual and tacit sadness in both husband and wife that he is only in rare moments the man both would like him to be.
The terms 'male' and 'female' must be understood as representing no mere primitive opposition of sex to sex; but as defining two worlds of differing quality, in either of which men and women may jointly move and live.
Emile Saint-Blague had been a lively, versatile painter in his youth, but he had abused his energy by painting too many pictures; so that in what might have been the ripe period of his art he had nothing left but ideas. A man who has nothing left but ideas may be of great service to his friends, but he is of no use at all to himself. Emile was certainly an inspiration to his friends.
Ideas are the old-age of art. Artists have to keep young; they must not think too much - thought is death, while art is life. Such was Emile's viewpoint.
Evil I had never found satisfactorily placeable as an integral element of the universal, or total, content of existence. Indeed, evil is evil just because there is no logical place for it, no room in reality for it. It is unreal, and yet real as something unreal.
All literature is written by the old to teach the young how to express themselves so that they in turn may write literature to teach the old how to express themselves. All literature is written by mentally precocious adolescents and by mentally precocious senescents.
She Venison had never travelled and so could invent all kinds of strange places without being limited, as travelled people are, by knowledge of certain places only.
A child should be allowed to take as long as she needs for knowing everything about herself, which is the same as learning to be herself. Even twenty-five years if necessary, or even forever. And it wouldn't matter if doing things got delayed, because nothing is really important but being oneself.
We wait, all, for a story of us that shall reach to where we are. We listen for our own speaking; and we hear much that seems our speaking, yet makes us strange to ourselves.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
William Butler Yeats
T. S. Eliot
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Rainer Maria Rilke
W. H. Auden
James Russell Lowell
The Notorious B.I.G.
Anne Graham Lotz
Robert Murray M'Cheyne
Paul J. Meyer
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