half dead

‘It’s amazing,’ said Connie, ‘how different one feels when there’s a really fresh fine day. Usually one feels the very air is half dead. People are killing the very air.’

D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover


utterly contemptible

Why am I being so irrational, making myself uneasy and miserable? If, to put an end to these feelings, I did as I pleased and took as my wife a woman who is supposed to be my daughter, I would be condemned as utterly contemptible by people at the court. My reputation would be ruined, and it would be a terrible situation for Tamakazura.

Shikibu Murasaki, The Tale of Genji

change your lakes

You — Gentlemen! by dint of long seclusion
From better company, have kept your own
At Keswick, and, through still continued fusion
Of one another’s minds, at last have grown
To deem as a most logical conclusion,
That Poesy has wreaths for you alone:
There is a narrowness in such a notion,
Which makes me wish you’d change your lakes for ocean.

Lord Byron, Don Juan

consider the applause

“To me it is a matter of indifference whether the public goes frantic or listens quietly and reflectively, for I give out only what I have undertaken to. If I have put my individuality, my powers, my love for the work, into a rôle or a song that is applauded by the public, I decline all thanks for it to myself personally, and consider the applause as belonging to the master whose work I am interpreting. If I have succeeded in making him intelligible to the public, the reward therefor is contained in that fact itself, and I ask for nothing more.”

— Lilli Lehmann, How to Sing

Adulterers don’t sing

Relationships like explosives need an intelligent, delicate touch. Adulterers don’t sing, typically unless the rendezvous is far from home, preferring to huddle in dark corners hidden from prying curious eyes. They don’t think we notice, although we don’t care, we always know their obligations. So do I. Adults too old to cuddle in public, holding hands for more than ten seconds, stealing kisses, betraying the thing going on, primmed and propered, doing the nines, staring intently into love soaked eyes, being extra careful in case someone with a gun or a camera should take an interest in the domestic crime, Jones lying in wait in the dark booth swilling down booze.

David Cain, Song of Songs

the boastful sails all fell together

Next day, a large ship, the Rachel, was descried, bearing directly down upon the Pequod, all her spars thickly clustering with men. At the time the Pequod was making good speed through the water; but as the broad-winged windward stranger shot nigh to her, the boastful sails all fell together as blank bladders that are burst, and all life fled from the smitten hull.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick