Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Silence by Edgar Lee Masters

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Silence

by Edgar Lee Masters

I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man and a maid,
And the silence of the sick
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths,
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities —
We cannot speak.

A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
“How did you lose your leg?”
And the old soldier is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg.
It comes back jocosely
And he says, “A bear bit it off.”
And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly lives over
The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
And the long days in bed.
But if he could describe it all
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
Which he could not describe.

There is the silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of an embittered friendship.
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with visions not to be uttered
Into a realm of higher life.
There is the silence of defeat.
There is the silence of those unjustly punished;
And the silence of the dying whose hand
Suddenly grips yours.
There is the silence between father and son,
When the father cannot explain his life,
Even though he be misunderstood for it.

There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.
There is the silence of those who have failed;
And the vast silence that covers
Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon
After Waterloo.
And the silence of Jeanne d’Arc
Saying amid the flames, “Blessed Jesus” —
Revealing in two words all sorrows, all hope.
And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
In words intelligible to those who have not lived
The great range of life.

And there is the silence of the dead.
If we who are in life cannot speak
Of profound experiences,
Why do you marvel that the dead
Do not tell you of death?
Their silence shall be interpreted
As we approach them.

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Quotable Quotes #9

Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest. – Johann Goethe, German poet

And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President

I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat. – Edgar Allan Poe

Best be yourself, imperial, plain, and true! – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Scenery is fine – but human nature is finer. – John Keats

Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup. – Ludwig van Beethoven

They never fail who die in a great cause. – Lord Byron

Forgotten is forgiven. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. – Jane Austen, English novelist

Be courteous with all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. – George Washington

Great souls are not those who have fewer passions and more virtues than others, but only those who have greater designs. – Francois de la Rochefoucauld

To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent. – Buddha

Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life. – Oscar Wilde

Whom the gods love dies young. – Menander, Greek dramatist

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. – Henry David Thoreau

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. – Mark Twain