The Prairie-Grass Dividing
The prairie-grass dividing, its special odor breathing, I demand of it the spiritual corresponding, Demand the most copious and close companionship of men, Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings, Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh, nutritious, Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with freedom and command, leading not following, Those with a never-quell'd audacity, those with sweet and lusty flesh clear of taint, Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents and governors, as to say Who are you? Those of earth-born passion, simple, never constrain'd, never obedient, Those of inland America.
There is no reason why the profoundest thoughts should not make easy and exciting reading. A profound thought is an exciting thing — as exciting as a detective’s deductions or hunches. The simpler the words in which a thought is expressed the more stimulating its effect.
“Eric Hoffer and the Art of the Notebook”, Entry (1950); courtesy of Wikiquote
To think out a problem is not unlike drawing a caricature. You have to exaggerate the salient point and leave out that which is not typical. “To illustrate a principle,” says Bagehot, “you must exaggerate much and you must omit much.” As to the quantity of absolute truth in a thought: it seems to me the more comprehensive and unobjectionable a thought becomes, the more clumsy and unexciting it gets. I like half-truths of a certain kind — they are interesting and they stimulate.
–”Eric Hoffer and the Art of the Notebook”, Entry (1950); courtesy of Wikiquote
I Hear It Was Charged Against Me
I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions, But really I am neither for nor against institutions, (What indeed have I in common with them? or what with the destruction of them?) Only I will establish in the Mannahatta and in every city of these States inland and seaboard, And in the fields and woods, and above every keel little or large that dents the water, Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument, The institution of the dear love of comrades.
This Moment Yearning and Thoughtful
This moment yearning and thoughtful sitting alone, It seems to me there are other men in other lands yearning and thoughtful, It seems to me I can look over and behold them in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Or far, far away, in China, or in Russia or talking other dialects, And it seems to me if I could know those men I should become attached to them as I do to men in my own lands, O I know we should be brethren and lovers, I know I should be happy with them.
What counts most is holding on. The growth of a train of thought is not a direct forward flow. There is a succession of spurts separated by intervals of stagnation, frustration, and discouragement. If you hold on, there is bound to come a certain clarification. The unessential components drop off and a coherent, lucid whole begins to take shape.
–”Eric Hoffer and the Art of the Notebook”, Entry (1961); courtesy of Wikiquote.
To a Stranger
Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you, You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,) I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you, All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured, You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me, I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only, You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return, I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone, I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again, I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing
I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing, All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches, Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous of dark green, And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself, But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there without its friend near, for I knew I could not, And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it and twined around it a little moss, And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room, It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends, (For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,) Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly love; For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana solitary in a wide in a wide flat space, Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near, I know very well I could not.
Behold This Swarthy Face
Behold this swarthy face, these gray eyes, This beard, the white wool unclipt upon my neck, My brown hands and the silent manner of me without charm; Yet comes one a Manhattanese and ever at parting kisses me lightly on the lips with robust love, And I on the crossing of the street or on the ship's deck give a kiss in return, We observe that salute of American comrades land and sea, We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.