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When I’m speaking, I’m not crying


The personal is artificially political just as
the political is artificially personal.

Force must be countered with force, hence only good
can counter the impulse to revenge.

When the Furies backed down, they didn’t know
the jury had been rigged; nevertheless
it was better that they backed down.

Democracy and art are not experiments.

The state that kills from the standpoint
of abstraction has a greater guilt to bear
than a murderer who kills from
the standpoint of particularity.

War profiteering has many means, including
the sale of poems against war.

Those who destroy the garden and poison the well
think that streets will be named for them
in the future.

If you imagine you can recognize
the inner life of others,
you’re a fool, a fool with a mirror.

Mountains live longer than trees, trees live
longer than flowers, and flowers live longer
than hungry children.

What we do not know
deserves sanctification more than what we do know.

The most dangerous people are bored.

The world is with end.

When I’m thinking, I’m not speaking.   


—Susan Stewart

Susan Stewart is author of several books of poetry, including The Forest and the forthcoming Columbarium. Her books of criticism include On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection and Poetry and the Fate of the Senses.

Originally published in the Summer 2003 issue of Boston Review



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