I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use --silence, exile and cunning.
If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.
If you are close to a precipice, go away a bit; if you are far from it, come close a bit! Enjoy the safety, enjoy the view! Without safety, it is dangerous; without view, it is dull! Life is an art of adjusting the distances!
If you were in a burning house and there was a cat and a Rembrandt, what would you save The cat...you would save the cat, because the cat is alive. The art is dead. It's just paint on a canvas, ink on a page. To live for art is to deny life. It's just to destroy life.
In all things, to serve from the lowest station upwards is necessary. To restrict yourself to a trade is best. For the narrow mind, whatever he attempts is still a trade; for the higher, an art; and the highest in doing one thing does all, or, to speak less paradoxically, in the one thing which he does rightly he sees the likeness of all that is done rightly.
In human life, art may arise from almost any activity, and once it does so, it is launched on a long road of exploration, invention, freedom to the limits of extravagance, interference to the point of frustration, finally discipline, controlling constant change and growth.
In the height of thy prosperity expect adversity, but fear it not. If it come not, thou art the more sweetly possessed of the happiness thou hast, and the more strongly confirmed. If it come, thou art the more gently dispossessed of the happiness thou hadst, and the more firmly prepared.
In the works of the better poets you get the sensation that they're not talking to people any more, or to some seraphical creature. What they're doing is simply talking back to the language itself --as beauty, sensuality, wisdom, irony --those aspects of language of which the poet is a clear mirror. Poetry is not an art or a branch of art, it's something more. If what distinguishes us from other species is speech, then poetry, which is the supreme linguistic operation, is our anthropological, indeed genetic, goal. Anyone who regards poetry as an entertainment, as a read, commits an anthropological crime, in the first place, against himself.