To stay in one place and watch the seasons come and go is tanatmount to constant travel: One is traveling with the earth.— Marguerite Yourcenar
The most revealing Marguerite Yourcenar quotes that are glad to read
All happiness is a work of art: the smallest error falsifies it, the slightest hesitation alters it, the least heaviness spoils it, the slightest stupidity brutalizes it.
Ancient and oriental civilizations were more sensitive than we are to the cycles of things; to the succession of generations, both divine and human; and to change within stasis. Western man is virtually alone in wanting to make his God into a fortress and personal immortality into a bulwark against time.
This morning it occurred to me for the first time that my body, my faithful companion and friend, truer and better known to me than my own soul, may be after all only a sly beast who will end by devouring his master.
The true birthplace is that wherein for the first time one looks intelligently upon oneself; my first homelands have been books, and to a lesser degree schools.
In the evenings the art of building gave way to that of music, which is architecture, too, though invisible.
Our great mistake is to try to exact from each person virtues which he does not possess, and to neglect the cultivation of those which he has.
The written word has taught me to listen to the human voice, much as the great unchanging statues have taught me to appreciate bodily motions.
I don't think I ever relinquish a person I have known, and surely not my fictional characters. I see them, I hear them, with a clarity that I would call hallucinatory if hallucination didn't mean something else ... A character whom we create can never die, any more than a friend can die ... Through [my characters] I've lived many parallel lives.
Writing is a perpetual choice between a thousand expressions, none of which satisfies me, none of which, above all, satisfies me without the others. Yet I ought to know that only music permits a succession of chords.
I believe that friendship, like love, of which it is a particular kind, requires nearly as much art as a successful choreography.
Since man, fragment of the universe, is governed by the same laws that preside over the heavens, it is by no means absurd to search there above for the themes of our lives, for those frigid sympathies that participate in our achievements as well as our blunderings.
When two texts, or two assertions, perhaps two ideas, are in contradiction, be ready to reconcile them rather than cancel one by the other; regard them as two different facets, or two successive stages, of the same reality, a reality convincingly human just because it is too complex.
Want of passion is, I think, a very striking characteristic of Americans, not unrelated to their predilection for violence. For very few people truly have a passionate desire to achieve, and violence serves as a kind of substitute.
Our true birthplace is that in which we cast for the first time an intelligent eye on ourselves. My first homelands were my books.
This city belongs to ghosts, to murderers, to sleepwalkers.
Where are you, in what bed, in what dream?
The landscape of my days appears to be composed, like mountainous regions, of varied materials heaped up pell-mell. There I see my nature, itself composite, made up of equal parts of instinct and training. Here and there protrude the granite peaks of the inevitable, but all about is rubble from the landslips of chance.
Men who care passionately for women attach themselves at least as much to the temple and to the accessories of the cult as to their goddess herself.
I have come to think that great men are characterized precisely by the extreme position which they take, and that their heroism consists in holding to that extremity throughout their lives.
And nevertheless I have loved certain of my masters, and those strangely intimate though elusive relations existing between student and teacher, and the Sirens singing somewhere within the cracked voice of him who is first to reveal a new idea. The greatest seducer was not Alcibiades, afterall, it was Socrates.
I am not sure that the discovery of love is necessarily more exquisite than the discovery of poetry.
A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family.
A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
Passion such as hers is all consent, asking little in return.
I had merely to enter a room where she was to see her face take on that peaceful expression of one who is resting in bed. If I touched her, I had the impression that all the blood in her veins was turning to honey.
On the whole, however, it is only out of pride or gross ignorance, or cowardice, that we refuse to see in the present the lineaments of times to come.
Sickness disgusts us with death, and we wish to get well, which is a way of wishing to live. But weakness and suffering, with manifold bodily woes, soon discourage the invalid from trying to regain ground: he tires of those respites which are but snares, of that faltering strength, those ardors cut short, and that perpetual lying in wait for the next attack.
Of all our games, love's play is the only one which threatens to unsettle the soul.
[On travel:] Who would be so besotted as to die without having made at least the round of this, his prison?
For my part I have sought liberty more than power, and power only because it can lead to freedom. What interested me was not a philosophy of the free man (all who try that have proved tiresome), but a technique: I hoped to discover the hinge where our will meets and moves with destiny, and where discipline strengthens, instead of restraining, our nature.
Leaving behind books is even more beautiful — there are far too many children.
The founding of libraries was like constructing more public granaries, amassing reserves against a spiritual winter which by certain signs, in spite of myself, I see ahead.
No one understands eternity. One simply recognizes its existence.
A touch of madness is, I think, almost always necessary for constructing a destiny.
nothing is slower than the true birth of a man
I think still that someone wiser than I might well have remained happy till his death.
Everything is too far away in the past, or mysteriously too close.
A being afire with life cannot foresee death;
in fact, by each of his deeds he denies that death exists.
I have never seasoned a truth with the sauce of a lie in order to digest it more easily.
Little soul, gentle and drifting, guest and companion of my body, now you will dwell below in pallid places, stark and bare; there you will abandon your play of yore. But one moment still, let us gaze together on these familiar shores, on these objects which doubtless we shall not see again....Let us try, if we can, to enter into death with open eyes.
Everything that we do affects our fate for better or for worse.
The circumstances into which we are born also exert a tremendous influence; we come into the world with debits and credits for which we are not responsible already posted to our account: this teaches us humility.
Life is atrocious, we know. But precisely because I expect little of the human condition, man's periods of felicity, his partial progress, his efforts to begin over again and continue, all seem to me like so many prodigies which nearly compensate for the monstrous mass of ills and defeats, of indifference and error. Catastrophe and ruin will come; disorder will triumph, but order will too, from time to time.
I knew that good like bad becomes a routine, that the temporary tends to endure, that what is external permeates to the inside, and that the mask, given time, comes to be the face itself.
The memory of most men is an abandoned cemetery where lie, unsung and unhonored, the dead whom they have ceased to cherish. Any lasting grief is reproof to their forgetfulness.
Keinginan telah mengajarkan kepadamu betapa sia-sianya keinginan, penyesalan mengajarkan betapa sia-sianya penyesalan. Bersabarlah wahai kekeliruan, karena kami semua menjadi bagianmu. Bersabarlah wahai Ketidaksempurnaan, berkat engkaulah Kesempurnaan menyadari dirinya. Bersabarlah kemarahan, karena engkau tidak kekal abadi.
All happiness is a form of innocence.
Every hour has its immediate duty, its special injunction which dominates all others.
the press is too often a distorting mirror, which deforms the people and events it represents, making them seem bigger or smaller than they really are.
Meditation upon death does not teach one how to die;
it does not make the departure more easy, but ease is not what I seek. Beloved boy, so willful and brooding, your sacrifice will have enriched not my life but my death. ... Centuries as yet unborn within the dark womb of time would pass by thousands over that tomb without restoring life to him, but likewise without adding to his death, and without changing the fact that he had been.
The world is big … May it please the One who perchance is to expand the human heart to life's full measure.
He had reached that moment in life, different for each one of us, when a man abandonds himself to his demon or to his genius, following a mysterious law which bids him either to destroy or outdo himself.
If you love life you also love the past, because it is the present as it has survived in memory." Translation by David Downie