Better mendacities Than the classics in paraphrase! Some quick to arm, some for adventure, some from fear of weakness, some from fear of censure, some for love of slaughter, in imagination, learning later . . . some in fear, learning love of slaughter; Died some, pro patria, non "dulce" non "et decor" . walked eye-deep in hell believing in old men's lies, the unbelieving came home, home to a lie.
The man of understanding can no more sit quiet and resigned while his country lets its literature decay, and lets good writing meet with contempt, than a good doctor could sit quiet and contented while some ignorant child was infecting itself with tuberculosis under the impression that it was merely eating jam tarts.
My pawing over the ancients and semi-ancients has been one struggle to find out what has been done, once and for all, better than it can ever be done again, and to find out what remains for us to do, and plenty does remain, for if we still feel the same emotions as those who launched a thousand ships, it is quite certain that we came on these feelings differently, through different nuances, by different intellectual gradations. Each age has its own abounding gifts yet only some ages transmute them into matters of duration.
Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something. Don't use such an expression as 'dim land of peace.' It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer's not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol. Go in fear of abstraction.
Song in the Manner of Housman" O woe, woe, People are born and die, We also shall be dead pretty soon Therefore let us act as if we were dead already. The bird sits on the hawthorn tree But he dies also, presently. Some lads get hung, and some get shot. Woeful is this human lot. Woe! woe, etcetera.... London is a woeful place, Shropshire is much pleasanter. Then let us smile a little space Upon fond nature's morbid grace. Oh, Woe, woe, woe, etcetera....
The flavors of the peach and the apricot are not lost from generation to generation, neither are they transmitted by book learning. The mystic tradition, any mystic tradition, is of a similar nature, that is, it is dependent on direct perception, a 'knowledge' as permanent as the faculty for receiving it.