We live our lives of human passions, cruelties, dreams, concepts, crimes and the exercise of virtue in and beside a world devoid of our preoccupations, free from apprehension—though affected, certainly, by our actions. A world parallel to our own though overlapping. We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too. Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions, our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute, an hour even, of pure (almost pure) response to that insouciant life: cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing pilgrimage of water, vast stillness of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane, animal voices, mineral hum, wind conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering of fire to coal—then something tethered in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free. No one discovers just where we've been, when we're caught up again into our own sphere (where we must return, indeed, to evolve our destinies) —but we have changed, a little.
Denise Levertov - 1923-1997
Those groans men use passing a woman on the street or on the steps of the subway to tell her she is a female and their flesh knows it, are they a sort of tune, an ugly enough song, sung by a bird with a slit tongue but meant for music? Or are they the muffled roaring of deafmutes trapped in a building that is slowly filling with smoke? Perhaps both. Such men most often look as if groan were all they could do, yet a woman, in spite of herself, knows it's a tribute: if she were lacking all grace they'd pass her in silence: so it's not only to say she's a warm hole. It's a word in grief-language, nothing to do with primitive, not an ur-language; language stricken, sickened, cast down in decrepitude. She wants to throw the tribute away, dis- gusted, and can't, it goes on buzzing in her ear, it changes the pace of her walk, the torn posters in echoing corridors spell it out, it quakes and gnashes as the train comes in. Her pulse sullenly had picked up speed, but the cars slow down and jar to a stop while her understanding keeps on translating: 'Life after life after life goes by without poetry, without seemliness, without love.'