I taught myself to live simply and wisely,
to look at the sky and pray to God,
and to wander long before evening
to tire my superfluous worries.
When the burdocks rustle in the ravine
and the yellow-red rowanberry cluster droops
I compose happy verses
about life’s decay, decay and beauty.
I come back. The fluffy cat
licks my palm, purrs so sweetly
and the fire flares bright
on the saw-mill turret by the lake.
Only the cry of a stork landing on the roof
occasionally breaks the silence.
If you knock on my door
I may not even hear.

– Anna Akhmatova, I Taught Myself To Live Simply

 

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‘Everyone looks in his own way for something that will cure the silence, the feeling of guilt, the feeling of panic. Some people travel. In their anxiety to see new countries and new people there is the hope that they will leave behind their own obscure ghosts; the is the secret hope that somewhere on the earth they will find the one person who could talk to them. Some people get drunk in order to forget their own obscure ghosts, and to talk.’

– Natalia Ginzburg, Silence, The Little Virtues

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‘In my life there have been interminable, desolate empty Sundays in which I desperately wanted to write something that would console me for my loneliness and boredom, so that I could be calmed and soothed by phrases and words. But I could not write a single line. My vocation has always rejected me, it does not want to know me. Because this vocation is never a consolation or a way of passing the time. It is not a companion. This vocation is a master who is able to beat us till the blood flows, a master who reviles and condemns us.’

– Natalia Ginzburg, My Vocation, The Little Virtues

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