Marguerite Yourcenar, Sistine

‘For men’s memory resembles those weary travelers who disencumber themselves of some useless baggage at each stop. So that they arrive naked, with their hands empty, at the place where they are to sleep, and on the day of the awakening will be like infants who know nothing of yesterday.’

‘Imperfect beings become agitated and couple in order to complete themselves, but purely beautiful things are as solitary as the grief of man.’

‘For everything keeps silence, even our soul—or else it is that we cannot hear.’

‘I am no longer young enough to attach importance to a separation, even if it is definitive. I know too well that the beings we love and who love us best are imperceptibly departing from us at every moment that passes. It is in this way that they depart from themselves.’

‘Man who invented time, then invented eternity for contrast; but the negation of time is as vain as time itself.’

‘A person’s love is such an unexpected gift, and so little deserved, that we should always be surprised that it is not taken back sooner.’

‘One possesses for all eternity only the friends from whom one has parted.’

Marguerite Yourcenar, Sistine, from That Mighty Sculptor, Time (trans. Walter Kaiser)

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