We have staked our life, our reason, our religion, in order to understand the perfection of an atom.

Farīd ud-Dīn ʿAṭṭārThe Conference of the Birds


In the morning there was a big wind blowing and the waves were running high up on the beach and he was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken.

Ernest HemingwayTen Indians


This is thy hour, O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,

Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,

Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,

Night, sleep, death and the stars.

Walt Whitman, A Clear Midnight


And we understood perfectly that the life of a single human being is worth a million time more than all the property of the richest man on earth… [F]ar more important than a good remuneration is the pride of serving one’s neighbor; that much more definitive and much more lasting than all the gold that one can accumulate is the gratitude of a people. And each doctor, within the circle of his activities, can and must accumulate that valuable treasure, the gratitude of his people.

Dr. Ernesto Ché Guevara de la Serna, On Revolutionary Medicine


For you was I born, for you do I have life, for you will I die, for you am I now dying.

Gabriel García MárquezOf Love and Other Demons


The slow beat of mighty bells, climbing like invisible smoke from old cathedral spires; the chant of patient boatmen, in tongues now lost forever, rowing home against the tide in the last light of day; the songs of armies marching into battles that Time had robbed of all their pain and evil; the merged murmur of ten million voices as man’s greatest cities awoke to meet the dawn; the cold dance of the aurora over endless seas of ice; the roar of mighty engines climbing upward on the highway to the stars…

Arthur C. Clarke, The Songs of Distant Earth


Fujio! Even when you have become a young man, laugh with pleasure at a girl’s delight when, told that it’s a grasshopper, she is given a bell cricket; laugh with affection at a girl’s chagrin when, told that it’s a bell cricket, she is given a grasshopper.

Even if you have the wit to look by yourself in a bush away from the other children, there are not many bell crickets in the world. Probably you will find a girl like a grasshopper whom you think is a bell cricket.

And finally, to your clouded, wounded heart, even a true bell cricket will seem like a grasshopper. Should that day come, when it seems to you that the world is only full of grasshoppers, I will think it a pity that you have no way to remember tonight’s play of light, when your name was written in green by your beautiful lantern on a girl’s breast.

Yasunari KawabataThe Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket


Most of us can’t rush around, talk to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore. 

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451


Politics is the soul of life. It is my eternal romance with the people.

Stanley Wolpert, Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan


The body keeps so little of the life after

being with her eleven years,

and the mouth not even that much. But the heart

is different. It never forgets

the pine trees with the moon rising behind them

every night. Again and again we put our

sweet ghosts on small paper boats and sailed

them back into their death, each moving slowly

into the dark, disappearing as our hearts

visited and savored, hurt and yearned.

Jack GilbertKuntskammer


Many boys, probably most boys, have a first love before they fall in love with a woman. It begins the moment two boys realize they’d die for one another, that each cares more for the other than he does for himself, and it lasts usually until a second love comes on the scene, because most hearts aren’t big enough to love more than one person like that.

Mohsin Hamid, Moth Smoke


A final memory.

Fire balloons.

You rarely see them these days, though in some countries, I hear, they are still filled with warm breath from a small straw fire hung beneath.

But in 1925 Illinois, we still had them, and one of the last memories I have of my grandfather is the last hour of a Fourth of July night forty-eight years ago when Grandpa and I walked out on the lawn and lit a small fire and filled the pear-shaped red-white-and-blue-striped paper balloon with hot air, and held the flickering bright-angel presence in our hands a final moment in front of a porch lined with uncles and aunts and cousins and mothers and fathers, and then, very softly, let the thing that was life and light and mystery go out of our fingers up on the summer night air and away over the beginning-to- sleep houses, among the stars, as fragile, as wondrous, as vulnerable, as lovely as life itself.

I see my grandfather there looking up at that strange drifting light, thinking his own still thoughts. I see me, my eyes filled with tears, because it was all over, the night was done, I knew there would never be another night like this.

No one said anything. We all just looked up at the sky and we breathed out and in and we all thought the same things, but nobody said. Someone finally had to say, though, didn’t they? And that one is me.

The wine still waits in the cellars below.

My beloved family still sits on the porch in the dark.

The fire balloon still drifts and burns in the night sky of an as yet unburied summer. Why and how?

Because I say it is so.

(Summer, 1974)

Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine


And meanwhile, yes, the old, old stars rise over the old, old seas.