Header image  
Welcome to Anhthao Bui's corner  
  HOME ::
   
 
FAVORITE WRITING
 

Quotes

 



large photo

He who conquers other is strong;
He who conquers himself is mighty.”
 Laotzu

“Self-reverence, self- knowledge, self-control,
These three alone lead life to sovereign power”
 Alfred, Lord Tennyson

“IF you want to be loved, be lovable.”
                                                Ovid

“The first duty of love is to listen”
                                                Paul Tillich

“What women want is what men want: They want respect.”
                                                            Marilyn Vos Savant

“One who wants a rose must respect the thorn.”
                                                Persian Proverb

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong”
                                                Joseph Chilton Pearce

“Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasin.”
                                                Native American Proverb

“Everyone is a moon and has a dark side, which he never shows to anybody.”
                                                                        Mark Twain

“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.”
                                                            Amy Tan

“A wealthy person does not necessarily have money and possessions, but he or she might possess inner wealth, a loving heart, and creative mind.”
                                                                       

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“Early to bed, early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
                                                            Benjamin Franklin

Golden rules

 

 

 

As a youngster, Jefferson's father taught him reading, writing, and arithmetic as well music and the art of drafting. But most important were these ten golden rules:

  1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  3. Never spend your money before you have it.
    4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap.
    5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
    6. We never repent for having eaten too little.
    7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
    8. How much pain have the evils that never happened cost us!
    9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
    10. When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, one hundred

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Theodore Roosevelt’s motto, “ Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

 

Poems

 

 

 

 

SELF-DEPENDENCE

By Matthew Arnold

1.
Weary of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards o'er the starlit sea.
2.
And a look of passionate desire
O'er the sea and to the stars I send:
``Ye who from my childhood up have calmed me,
Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!
3.
``Ah, once more,'' I cried, ``ye stars, ye waters,
On my heart your mighty charm renew;
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you!''
4.
From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,
Over the lit sea's unquiet way,
In the rustling night-air came the answer:
``Wouldst thou BE as these are? LIVE as they.
5.
``Unaffrighted by the silence round them,
Undistracted by the sights they see,
These demand not that the things without them
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.
6.
``And with joy the stars perform their shining,
And the sea its long moon-silvered roll;
For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting
All the fever of some differing soul.
7.
``Bounded by themselves, and unregardful
In what state God's other works may be,
In their own tasks all their powers pouring,
These attain the mighty life you see.''
8.
O air-born voice! long since, severly clear,
A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear:
``Resolve to be thyself; and know that he
Who finds himself loses his misery!''

DOVER BEACH

By Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm tonight,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
1867

 

SONNET #43, FROM THE PORTUGUESE

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!---I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

SONNET #18

By William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possesion of that fair thou own'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
      So long as men can breath, or eyes can see,
      So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
1609

SONNET #116

By William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
      If this be error and upon me proved,
      I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

SONNET #29

By William Shakespeare

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
      For they sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
      That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
1609

SONNET #73

By William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such a fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
      This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong
      To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.
1609

SONNET #130

By William Shakespeare

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses demasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
      And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
      As any she belied with false compare.
1609

SONNET #138

By William Shakespeare

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearnèd in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth supressed.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
Oh, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told.
      Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
      And in our faults by lies we flattered by.

HOLY SONNETS #10

By John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have callEd thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
1633
The common air absorbs my mind---
It knows not flowers from stones.

 

WE WEAR THE MASK
by: Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

AltE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
 
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us while
We wear the mask.
 
We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

 

 

Claude McKay: If We Must Die (1919)

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

 

 

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

193O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! My Captain!
by Walt Whitman
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up-for you the flag is flung-for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths-for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning:
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse or will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won:
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

 

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

By Robert Frost (1915)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Books

 

 

America is in the Heart
by Carlos Bulosan

 “America is not a land of one race or one class of men. We are all Americans that have toiled and suffer and known oppression and defeat, from the first Indian that offered peace in Manhattan to the last Filipino peapickers. America is not bound by geographical latitudes. America is not merely a land or an institution. America is in the hearts of men that died for freedom; America is in the eyes of men that are building a new world. America is a prophecy of a new society of men: of a system that knows no sorrow or strife or suffering. America is a warning to those who would try to falsify the ideals of free men.
America is oalso the nameless foreigner, the homelss refugee, the hungry boy begging for a job and the black body dangling from a tree. America is the lilliterate immigrant who is ashamed that the world of books and intellectual opportunites is cholsed to him. We are all that nameless foreigner, that homeless refegee, that hungry boy, that illiterate immigrant and that lynched black body. All of us, from the first Adams to the last Filipino, native born or alien, educated or illiterte—We are America!

 

East of Eden
by John Steinbeck
The Hebrew concept of timshel

- “Do you remember when you read us the sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis and we argued about them?”
- “I do indeed. And that’s a long time ago.”
- “Ten years nearly,” said Lee. “Well, the story bit deeply into me and I went into it word for word. The more I thought about the story, the more profound it became to me. Then I compared the translations we have—and they were fairly close. There was only one place that bothered me. The King James version says this—it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin.”
Samuel nodded. “And his children didn’t do it entirely,” he said.
Lee sipped his coffee. “Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible. It was very new then. And it was different in this passage. It says, ‘Do thou rule over him.’ Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order. And I began to stew about it. I wondered what the original word of the original writer had been that these very different translations could be made.”
Samuel put his palms down on the table and leaned forward and the old young light came into his eyes. “Lee,” he said, “don’t tell me you studied Hebrew!”
Lee said, “I’m going to tell you. And it’s a fairly long story. Will you have a touch of ng-ka-py?”
- “You mean the drink that tastes of good rotten apples?”
- “Yes. I can talk better with it.”
- “Maybe I can listen better,” said Samuel.
While Lee went to the kitchen Samuel asked, “Adam, did you know about this?”
- “No,” said Adam. “He didn’t tell me. Maybe I wasn’t listening.”
Lee came back with his stone bottle and three little porcelain cups so thin and delicate that the light shone through them. “Dlinkee Chinee fashion,” he said and poured the almost black liquor. “There’s a lot of wormwood in this. It’s quite a drink,” he said. “Has about the same effect as absinthe if you drink enough of it.”
Samuel sipped the drink. “I want to know why you were so interested,” he said.
- “Well, it seemed to me that the man who could conceive this great story would know exactly what he wanted to say and there would be no confusion in his statement.”
- “You say ‘the man.’ Do you then not think this is a divine book written by the inky finger of God?”
- “I think the mind that could think this story was a curiously divine mind. We have had a few such minds in China too.”
- “I just wanted to know,” said Samuel. “You’re not a Presbyterian after all.”
- “I told you I was getting more Chinese. Well, to go on, I went to San Francisco to the headquarters of our family association. Do you know about them? Our great families have centers where any member can get help or give it. The Lee family is very large. It takes care of its own.”
- “I have heard of them,” said Samuel.
- “You mean Chinee hatchet man fightee Tong war over slave girl?”
- “I guess so.”
- “It’s a little different from that, really,” said Lee. “I went there because in our family there are a number of ancient reverend gentlemen who are great scholars. They are thinkers in exactness. A man may spend many years pondering a sentence of the scholar you call Confucius. I thought there might be experts in meaning who could advise me.
- “They are fine old men. They smoke their two pipes of opium in the afternoon and it rests and sharpens them, and they sit through the night and their minds are wonderful. I guess no other people have been able to use opium well.”
Lee dampened his tongue in the black brew. “I respectfully submitted my problem to one of these sages, read him the story, and told him what I understood from it. The next night four of them met and called me in. We discussed the story all night long.”
Lee laughed. “I guess it’s funny,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t dare tell it to many people. Can you imagine four old gentlemen, the youngest is over ninety now, taking on the study of Hebrew? They engaged a learned rabbi. They took to the study as though they were children. Exercise books, grammar, vocabulary, simple sentences. You should see Hebrew written in Chinese ink with a brush! The right to left didn’t bother them as much as it would you, since we write up to down. Oh, they were perfectionists! They went to the root of the matter.”
- “And you?” said Samuel.
- “I went along with them, marveling at the beauty of their proud clean brains. I began to love my race, and for the first time I wanted to be Chinese. Every two weeks I went to a meeting with them, and in my room here I covered pages with writing. I bought every known Hebrew dictionary. But the old gentlemen were always ahead of me. It wasn’t long before they were ahead of our rabbi; he brought a colleague in. Mr. Hamilton, you should have sat through some of those nights of argument and discussion. The questions, the inspection, oh, the lovely thinking—the beautiful thinking.
- “After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”
Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”
Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”
- “Yes, I see. I do see. But you do not believe this is divine law. Why do you feel its importance?”
- “Ah!” said Lee. “I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time. I even anticipated your questions and I am well prepared. Any writing which has influenced the thinking and the lives of innumerable people is important. Now, there are many millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.” Lee’s voice was a chant of triumph.
Adam said, “Do you believe that, Lee?”
- “Yes, I do. Yes, I do. It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there. And do you know, those old gentlemen who were sliding gently down to death are too interested to die now?”
Adam said, “Do you mean these Chinese men believe the Old Testament?”
Lee said, “These old men believe a true story, and they know a true story when they hear it. They are critics of truth. They know that these sixteen verses are a history of humankind in any age or culture or race. They do not believe a man writes fifteen and three-quarter verses of truth and tells a lie with one verb. Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this—this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness.”
Adam said, “I don’t see how you could cook and raise the boys and take care of me and still do all this.”
- “Neither do I,” said Lee. “But I take my two pipes in the afternoon, no more and no less, like the elders. And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing—maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”

   

The Cider Rules
by John Irving

“Here in St. Cloud’s,” he wrote, “I try to consider, with each rule I make or break, that my first priority is an orphan’s future. It is for his or her future, for example, that I destroy any record of the identity of his or her natural mother. The unfortunate women who give birth here have made a very decision; they should not, later in their lives, be faced with making this decision again. And in almost every case the orphans should be spared any later search for the biological parents, certainly, the orphans should, in most cases, be spared the discovery of the actual parents.” (94-95)

“Here in St. Cloud’s,” Dr. Larch wrote, “I have been giving the choice of playing God or leaving practically everything up to chance. It is my experience that practically everything is left up to chance much of the time, men who believe in good and evil, and who believe that good should win, should watch for those moments when should watch those moments to play God—we should seize those moments. There won’t be many.
“Here in St. Cloud’s there may be more moments to seize than one could find in the rest of the world, but that is only because so much that comes this way has been left to change already.” (96)

“I am not saying it’s is right, you understand? I am saying it’s her choice—it’s a woman choice. She got a right to have a choice, you understand? Larch asked. (110)

 

   

The Thorn Birds
by Colleen Mc Cullough

There is a legend about a bird, which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, sinning among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain…Or so says the legend.

   

Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
Stockholm, Sweden – December, 1950

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man but to my work—a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before.  So this award is only mine in trust.  It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin.  But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will someday stand here where I am standing. 

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it.  There are no longer problems of the spirit.  There is only the question:  when will I be blown up?  Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again.  He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed—love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.  Until he does so he labors under a curse.  He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and worst of all without pity or compassion.  His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars.  He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man.  I decline to accept the end of man.  It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure; that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound:  that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.  I refuse to accept this.  I believe that man will not merely endure:  he will prevail.  He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.  The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things.  It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice,which have been the glory of the past.  The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
 Faulkner

 

 
    2007, buimuse.com