"Well, we are all condamnés, as Victor Hugo says [in Le dernier jour d'un condamné]:... we have an interval, and then our place knows us no more. Some spend this interval in listlessness, some in high passions, the wisest in art and song. For our one chance is in expanding that interval, in getting as many pulsations as possible into the given time. High passions give one this quickened sense of life, ecstasy and sorrow of love, political or religious enthusiasm, or the "enthusiasm of humanity" [in Auguste Comte's Le système de politique positive]. Only, be sure it is passion, that it does yield you this fruit of a quickened, multiplied consciousness."
"The myth of Demeter and Persephone, then, illustrates the power of the Greek religion as a religion of pure ideas--of conceptions, which having no link on historical fact, yet, because they arose naturally out of the spirit of man, and embodied, in adequate symbols, his deepest thoughts concerning the conditions of his physical and spiritual life, maintained their hold through many changes, and are still not without a solemnising power even for the modern mind, which has once admitted them as recognised and habitual inhabitants; and, abiding thus for the elevation and purifying of our sentiments, long after the earlier and simpler races of their worshippers have passed away, they may be a pledge to us of the place in our culture, at once legitimate and possible, of the associations, the conceptions, the imagery, of Greek religious poetry in general, of the poetry of all religions."
"It is with a rush of home-sickness that the thought of death presents itself.... Such sentiment is the eternal stock of all religions, modified indeed by changes of time and place, but indestructible, because its root is so deep in the earth of man's nature. The breath of religious initiators passes over them; a few "rise up with wings as eagles" [Isaiah 40:31], but the broad level of religious life is not permanently changed. Religious progress, like all purely spiritual progress, is confined to a few."
"In truth, the legitimate contention is, not of one age or school of literary art against another, but of all successive schools alike, against the stupidity which is dead to the substance, and the vulgarity which is dead to form."
"Certainly for us of the modern world, with its conflicting claims, its entangled interests, distracted by so many sorrows, so manypreoccupations, so bewildering an experience, the problem of unity with ourselves in blitheness and repose, is far harder than it was for the Greek within the simple terms of antique life. Yet, not less than ever, the intellect demands completeness, centrality."
"But the house of the prudent countryman will be, of course, a place of honest manners; and Demeter Thesmophoros is the guardian ofmarried life, the deity of the discretion of wives. She is therefore the founder of civilised order."
"But I must needs take my petulance, contrasting it with my accustomed morning hopefulness, as a sign of the ageing of appetite, ofa decay in the very capacity of enjoyment. We need some imaginative stimulus, some not impossible ideal which may shape vague hope, and transform it into effective desire, to carry us year after year, without disgust, through the routine- work which is so large a part of life."
"That the mere matter of a poem, for instance--its subject, its given incidents or situation; that the mere matter of a picture--the actual circumstances of an event, the actual topography of a landscape--should be nothing without the form, the spirit of the handling, that this form, this mode of handling, should become an end in itself, should penetrate every part of the matter;Mthis is what all art constantly strives after, and achieves in different degrees."
"Beauty, like all other qualities presented to human experience, is relative; and the definition of it becomes unmeaning and useless in proportion to its abstractness. To define beauty not in the most abstract, but in the most concrete terms possible, not to find a universal formula for it, but the formula which expresses most adequately this or that special manifestation of it, is the aim of the true student of aesthetics."
"What is important, then, is not that the critic should possess a correct abstract definition of beauty for the intellect, but a certain kind of temperament, the power of being deeply moved by the presence of beautiful objects."