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A cultivated mind - I do not mean that of a philosopher, but any mind to which the fountains of knowledge have been opened, and which has been taught, in any tolerable degree, to exercise its faculties - finds sources of inexhaustible interest in all that surrounds it; in the objects of nature, the achievements of art, the imaginations of poetry, the incidents of history, the ways of mankind, past and present, and their prospects in the future.

John Stuart Mill

Alla luna

O graziosa luna, io mi rammento
Che, or volge l’anno, sovra questo colle
Io venia pien d’angoscia a rimirarti:
E tu pendevi allor su quella selva
Siccome or fai, che tutta la rischiari.
Ma nebuloso e tremulo dal pianto
Che mi sorgea sul ciglio, alle mie luci
Il tuo volto apparia, che travagliosa
Era mia vita; ed è, nè cangia stile,
O mia diletta luna. E pur mi giova
La ricordanza, e il noverar l’etate
Del mio dolore. Oh come grato occorre
Nel tempo giovanil, quando ancor lungo
La speme e breve ha la memoria il corso,
Il rimembrar delle passate cose,
Ancor che triste, e che l’affanno duri!

Giacomo Leopardi

ELIZABETH AND HER GERMAN GARDEN

     I laughed on the way home, and I laughed again for sheer satisfaction when we reached the garden and drove between the quiet trees to the pretty old house; and when I went into the library, with its four windows open to the moonlight and the scent, and looked round at the familiar bookshelves, and could hear no sounds but sounds of peace, and knew that here I might read or dream or idle exactly as I chose with never a creature to disturb me, how grateful I felt to the kindly Fate that has brought me here and given me a heart to understand my own blessedness, and rescued me from a life like that I had just seen — a life spent with the odours of other people’s dinner in one’s nostrils, and the noise of their wrangling servants in one’s ears, and parties and tattle for all amusement.

—Elizabeth von Arnim

The Cherry Orchard

LUBOV ANDREYEVNA. “And why should I conceal it and say nothing about it; I love him, that’s plain, I love him, I love him… . That love is a stone round my neck; I’m going with it to the bottom, but I love that stone and can’t live without it.”

—Anton Chekhov

I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises.

“…hit the reader below the belt. With the rhythms and symbols of poetry one can get into a reader - open him up and while he is open introduce - things on an intellectual level which he would not or could not receive unless he were opened up. It is a psychological trick if you wish but all techniques of writing are psychological tricks.”

—John Steinbeck

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