"A baby is God's opinion that life should go on."
"A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man."
"A fellow, after speaking, took his seat as though he had had a good workout and felt easier."
"A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake."
"After the one-hour lecture came a two-hour free-for-all of speeches from the floor-anarchists, single taxers, radical socialists, Criers for cooperative stores, for war to be outlawed by international agreement."
"All human actions are equivalent... and all are on principle doomed to failure."
"Anger is the most impotent of passions. It effects nothing it goes about, and hurts the one who is possessed by it more than the one against whom it is directed."
"Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky - or the answer is wrong and you have to start over and try again and see how it comes out this time."
"At Baylor University, on the flat lands of Texas, is the largest comprehensive collection of Browningiana in the world."
"At football I had my try-outs and found that after being slammed to the ground a few times I had no interest in my studies."
"Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen."
"Basketball had a fascination for me, and during the four years I never thought of quitting the game."
"Calling it off comes easy enough if you haven't told the girl you are smitten with her."
"Dreamers most often got the loud horse laugh or the quiet merry titter."
"During my four years at Lombard I never knew of a student getting drunk."
"Enclosures are from my subterranean cavern of skulls, memoranda, miscellany, monkeybusiness."
"Every blunder behind us is giving a cheer for us, and only for those who were willing to fail are the dangers and splendors of life."
"Every couple that kept going steady over the four years I was at college were later reported as married."
"Every other day I drove my two bay horses back and forth along Brooks Street for exercise."
"Every Thanksgiving and Christmas sason for four years I dressed chickens and turkeys in the basement of Sam Swanson's meat market, five cents for getting the feathers off a chicken, ten cents for a turkey."
"For years the Chicago redlight district was to go on as a known and recognized business operation."
"From year to year the chapel exercises, a half-hour beginning at nine, never lost interest for me."
"Here is the difference between Dante, Milton, and me. They wrote about hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years."
"Home... for pancakes, eggs, and coffee from the always-smiling and cheerful mother who could hardly believe that one of her boys was going to college."
"I am an idealist. I believe in everything-I am only looking for proofs."
"I am an idealist. I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way."
"I am Swedish. My father and mother came from Sweden. I wondered if German, Italian, Polish upperclassmen sometimes felt a call of blood like that."
"I believe fireman are mostly quiet sleepers who don't talk, cry, or moan in their sleep."
"I bought a second-hand Blickensderfer typewriter for $15. When you pecked one letter you brought down a cylinder covered with the whole alphabet."
"I came to see how the common people close to the earth by their day-to-day usage of words make changes in their simplest speech."
"I can remember only a few of the strange and curious words now dead but living and spoken by the English people a thousand years ago."
"I couldn't see myself filling some definite niche in what is called a career. This was all misty."
"I decided I would go to Chicago and try my luck as a writer after those eight months as a fireman."
"I doubt if you can have a truly wild party without liquor."
"I feel like I'm drowning. Every night, I'm carrying home loads of things to read but I'm too exhausted. I keep clipping things and Xeroxing them and planning to read them eventually, but I just end up throwing it all away and feeling guilty."
"I fell in love, not deep, but I fell several times and then fell out."
"I had a feeling the name Carl would mean one more Poor Swede Boy while the name Charles filled the mouth with fun and had 'em guessing."
"I had a flashlight thrown on how language can change over centuries."
"I had been keeping an off eye on the advertising field, thinking I might become an idea man and a copywriter."
"I had taken a course in Ethics. I read a thick textbook, heard the class discussions and came out of it saying I hadn't learned a thing I didn't know before about morals and what is right or wrong in human conduct."
"I have always been respectful, even reverential, in a room where you can look a human skeleton in the eye-sockets."
"I have always felt that a woman has the right to treat the subject of her age with ambiguity until, perhaps, she passes into the realm of over ninety. Then it is better she be candid with herself and with the world."
"I have become infected, now that I see how beautifully a book is coming out of all this."
"I have in later years taken to Euclid, Whitehead, Bertrand Russell, in an elemental way."
"I have kept for years certain handwrought rusty nails that I can't throw away because of the way they say, we are of the time when man had tools but not yet machines for shaping us."
"I have often wondered what it is an old building can do to you when you happen to know a little about things that went on long ago in that building."
"I knew I would read all kinds of books and try to get at what it is that makes good writers good. But I made no promises that I would write books a lot of people would like to read."
"I learned you can't trust the judgment of good friends."
"I lingered at roadsides and wrote poems-the poems not so good but I had the lingering and that was good."
"I made notes with a lead pencil, wrote letters and college papers with a stub steel pen dipped into a bottle of Waterman ink."
"I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen."
"I met and came to respect a Vineland lawyer who later became a judge. I met another lawyer, young, lusty, gabby, who said that every weekend in summer he took this woman and that to Atlantic City for fun and a few drinks."
"I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it."
"I never saw a fireman drunk on duty."
"I smoked endless pipes of Scraps, the crushed and cheap but pure tobacco leaves."
"I stayed away from mathematics not so much because I knew it would be hard work as because of the amount of time I knew it would take, hours spent in a field where I was not a natural."
"I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes, so live not in your yesterdays, no just for tomorrow, but in the here and now. Keep moving and forget the post mortems; and remember, no one can get the jump on the future."
"I took to wearing a black tie known as the Ascot, with long drooping ends. I had seen pictures of painters, sculptors, poets, wearing this style of tie."
"I was a call man for the fire department. My job most often was to connect with a hydrant and with a wrench turn on the water."
"I was entering the lecture field myself in a beginning way. I had put out a circular with a dignified picture and testimonials that I was worth hearing."
"I was measured, pounded, squeezed, stethoscoped, given the works, and pronounced physically fit to be an officer of the United States Army."
"I won't take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth."
"I wrote poems in my corner of the Brooks Street station. I sent them to two editors who rejected them right off. I read those letters of rejection years later and I agreed with those editors."
"I wrote some editorials that I then considered instructive, solemn, and portentous, later seeing them as somewhat wishy-washy."
"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."
"I'm either going to be a writer or a bum."
"I've written some poetry I don't understand myself."
"If America forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then will begin the rot and dissolution."
"If anthropology is the science dealing with man as an animal, at those meetings you could hear man as the animal who can spill and spout language."
"In order to live, you have to eat, and having eaten, your sex drive sends you into begetting children, reproducing yourself."
"In the crying-out-loud of that year, my two slight books made the same commotion as a child's whisper in a Kansas cyclone."
"In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning."
"In zero weather I wore a turtleneck sweater, coat, and overcoat and read and wrote lighted by a lamp."
"Let the gentle bush dig its root deep and spread upward to split the boulder."
"Lombard was strictly a small college, averaging 150 to 170 students."
"More than one day I read a newspaper from page one on through to the back page, every story. I liked especially the murders, the robberies, the divorces, the political squabbles."
"My black-bordered editorial on the death of President McKinley had a few good sentences but was stilted and perfunctory."
"My main lecture was titled, The American Vagabond, which I thought sounded more attractive than just plain, Walt Whitman."
"My room for books and study or for sitting and thinking about nothing in particular to see what would happen was at the end of a hall."
"Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me."
"Nothing happens unless first we dream."
"Often I look back and see that I had been many kinds of a fool-and that I had been happy in being this or that kind of fool."
"One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude."
"Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes."
"Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance."
"Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away."
"Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment."
"Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits."
"Professor Kimble could tell of women who served 50 men in a day and night and sent their earnings to children who didn't know where the money came from."
"Rouged was known as a fallen woman to the ministers, as a streetwalker to the police, as a chippy to the men on the hunt."
"Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work."
"Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come."
"The basement had windows lighting the Old Man's workshop and plenty of room for the potatoes and cabbages we raised."
"The best part of my lecture was not reciting what I had written but the well-memorized lines Whitman wrote."
"The girl rated as decent kept away from the powder and rouge. In public a girl's ankle and sometimes calf could be seen only when she was in a gym or swim suit."
"The greatest cunning is to have none at all."
"The manager of a small vaudeville theater said he would give me a tryout. I went on a second night. I stayed shy of show business. I was fuzzy-minded about it."
"The Old Man was thinking of the profit that did come to him from selling the house and lot, but he couldn't have worked the way he did unless he truly enjoyed work for the sake of work itself."
"The scholars and poets of an earlier time can be read only with a dictionary to help."
"The sea speaks a language polite people never repeat. It is a colossal scavenger slang and has no respect."
"The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring."
"The United States census for 1860 counted more than 600,000 Universalists in the country."
"The United States was at peace with the world. The country felt good about it. Little wars sprang up here and there in Europe, Asia, Africa, but it was none of our business."
"There are 10 men in me and I do not know or understand one of them."
"There have been as many varieties of socialists as there are wild birds that fly in the woods and sometimes go up and on through the clouds."
"There was always the consolation that if I didn't like what I wrote I could throw it away or burn it."
"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
"To be a good loser is to learn how to win."
"Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes."
"We don't have to think up a title till we get the doggone book written."
"We had one Japanese student, a theolog, learning how to go back to Tokyo or Hiroshima and preach to the Nipponese that God loves everybody."
"We had two grand antique professors who had been teaching at Lombard since before I was born."
"We read Robert Browning's poetry. Here we needed no guidance from the professor: the poems themselves were enough."
"We were very near to being Middle Class though the Old Man was still a blacksmith's helper."
"When I was writing pretty poor poetry, this girl with midnight black hair told me to go on."
"When no college events or odd jobs were doing, I worked Saturdays, Sundays, and evenings from about 6:30 to 10 o'clock."
"Where was I going? I puzzled and wondered about it til I actually enjoyed the puzzlement and wondering."
"You could mail a copy of Incidentals in an ordinary letter envelope, it was that small a book."
"You remember some bedrooms you have slept in. There are bedrooms you like to remember and others you would like to forget."