As we looked up in silence to those distant lights, we were reminded that it was a rare imagination which first taught that the stars are worlds, and had conferred a great benefit on mankind.
(Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 417, Houghton Mifflin (1906).)
Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars.
(Victor Hugo (1802-1885), French poet, novelist, playwright, essayist. Trans. by Lorenzo O'Rourke. "Thoughts," Postscriptum de ma vie, in Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography, Funk and Wagnalls (1907).)
The roaring of the wind is my wife and the stars through the window pane are my children. The mighty abstract idea I have of beauty in all things stifles the more divided and minute domestic happiness.
(John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Oct. 14-31, 1818, to his brother and sister-in-law. Letters of John Keats, no. 94, ed. Frederick Page (1954).
George and Georgiana Keats, married in June of that year and recently settled in the United States, had urged the poet to think of starting a family.)
And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there.... Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.
(Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. "Patria Mia," New Age (London, Sept. 18, 1912).)
The shows of the day, the dewy morning, the rainbow, mountains, orchards in blossom, stars, moonlight, shadows in still water, and the like, if too eagerly hunted, become shows merely, and mock us with their unreality.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Nature, ch. 3 (1836, revised and repr. 1849).
Here Emerson articulates his vision of knowing as form of receptivity, rather than a grasping activity. Instead of saying "I've got it" when we understand something, Emerson would have us say "It has got me.")