John Burnside Famous Quotes & Sayings

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Top 100 John Burnside Quotes

#1. Many of the birds Audubon painted are now extinct, and still we go on killing them, more or less casually, with our pesticides and wires and machinery. - Author: John Burnside
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#2. As I child, I came to this idea with a horrified fascination. Once upon a time, I wasn't here. Before that, my parents weren't here. And before that ... - Author: John Burnside
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#3. The way I mainly use the Internet is keeping in touch with poets that live far away. My main interest is contemporary American poets and some Spanish language poets, and I keep in touch with their work through either their websites or email. - Author: John Burnside
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#4. My father was one of those men who sit in a room and you can feel it: the simmer, the sense of some unpredictable force that might, at any moment, break loose, and do something terrible. [Burnside, p. 27] - Author: John Burnside
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#5. but the young dead stay with us, they color our dreams, they make us wonder about ourselves, that we should be so unlucky, or clumsy, or so downright ordinary as to carry on without them. Yet - Author: John Burnside
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#6. I have always been suspicious of the phrase, the glow of pregnancy, and my suspicions were only confirmed by Lillian's appearance. Instead of a glow, her whole body seemed to become more and more dull, sallow and sickly sweet and vague, like a candle burning out or a line of smudged writing. - Author: John Burnside
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#7. My editor, Robin Robertson, is one of this country's finest poets, so I listen to him when he offers advice. - Author: John Burnside
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#8. I think humans have to learn a new way of dwelling on this earth. A way of living with their companions: animals, plants and fish. - Author: John Burnside
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#9. What we should be doing is saving habitats, not single species, no matter what their cuteness factor. - Author: John Burnside
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#10. I really like to try my hand at everything, and I think it's probably dangerous to let oneself be pigeon-holed, not necessarily by other people, but in one's own mind. - Author: John Burnside
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#11. All you have to do is choose the right day, the right weather, and you come upon a hidden place in the morning light where time stopped long before you were born - Author: John Burnside
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#12. As attractive as it is, the idea that nature can exist beyond our dangerous 'instinct for happiness' is never the whole story. - Author: John Burnside
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#13. I remember a nightfall from childhood, far from home and off the known track: I'd been walking with some older boys, but they ran off and left me, and as darkness hurried in, I suddenly realised how far from home I was. - Author: John Burnside
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#14. My second, third and fourth novels were mistakes, essentially. - Author: John Burnside
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#15. I moved south when I was 11 years old, moved to England. I've lived in all kinds of places, all parts of England. - Author: John Burnside
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#16. Growing up, I lived in a house without art: no picture books on the shelves, no visits to museums, no posters on the bedroom wall. - Author: John Burnside
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#17. That's the wonderful thing with nerds: they're enthusiasts. Not having a life means you get to love things with a passion and nobody bothers you about it. - Author: John Burnside
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#18. Growing up, I learnt to think, 'Let's make it a big night tonight, as you never know what's going to happen next.' So now I have enough, I take too much; when I get the chance to have a fine dinner, I will. And it's had an effect on my health. - Author: John Burnside
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#19. My father was this big, tough guy, almost heroic in proportion to me as a child. It was only later that I saw how fearful he was. - Author: John Burnside
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#20. With each passing decade, history becomes less real for us, less immediate and essential to our way of life, and so, like 'green' nature, more of a commodity or an advertising gimmick. - Author: John Burnside
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#21. When you have a child, you think about your personal history and what you offer them as a larger narrative, and I realised I knew nothing about my father's circumstances other than what he'd told me. - Author: John Burnside
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#22. Anyone who has ever stopped to watch a hawk in flight will know that this is one of the natural world's most elegant phenomena. - Author: John Burnside
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#23. We do not need to be heroes to save the world; all we need is humility, a critical view of the commercial and political interests of those who would mislead us into wrongdoing, and a sense of wonder. - Author: John Burnside
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#24. If nature offers no home, then we must make a home one way or another. The only question is how. - Author: John Burnside
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#25. As a child, I was consumed with a near-obsessive curiosity about what the world felt like for other creatures. - Author: John Burnside
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#26. My first book was a car crash. I tried to find all the copies and destroy them. - Author: John Burnside
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#27. For a bird, especially for the more musically inventive, song is the defining characteristic, the primary way by which it knows itself and is known by others. To lose its species song is to lose not just its identity but some part of its presence in the world. - Author: John Burnside
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#28. My poems tend to be more celebratory and lyrical, and the novels so far pretty dark. Poetry doesn't seem to me to be an appropriate tool for exploring that. - Author: John Burnside
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#29. The woods were a boon; all too often, the forest offered danger and mystery. Yet it could be liberating. If you entered that wild place on its own terms, you might be accorded wisdom. - Author: John Burnside
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#30. A modern arboretum brings us that ancient forest and, with it, a changed apprehension of time, a renewed appreciation of the elegance of natural form and a renewed sense of wonder at the variety of the world we inhabit. - Author: John Burnside
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#31. Sadly, bird illustration has always been an under-appreciated art. - Author: John Burnside
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#32. What is essential - the one thing that could stop us being coarsened to other lives - is that we feel a great, living wave of animal life all around us, covering the earth. - Author: John Burnside
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#33. The only pleasure in redecorating or moving house comes from stumbling across books that I'd almost forgotten I owned. - Author: John Burnside
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#34. Clearly, any well-kept garden will be a source of pleasure in the summer months; in the bleak urban midwinter, however, there are few activities more likely to energise the spirit than a botanical walk. - Author: John Burnside
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#35. In many traditions, hawks are sacred: Apollo's messengers for the Greeks, sun symbols for the ancient Egyptians and, in the case of the Lakota Sioux, embodiments of clear vision, speed and single-minded dedication. - Author: John Burnside
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#36. Where logic seems apparent: in bullfrogs or Black-Eyed Susans bird migrations patterns on the skin of newt or carp we go too far imagining a god of purposes. - Author: John Burnside
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#37. Once upon a time, forests were repositories of magic for the human race. - Author: John Burnside
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#38. 'Moby-Dick' really threw me. I read it when I was 14 and my best friends were books. It changed the way I looked at the world. - Author: John Burnside
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#39. The animal encounter poem is now so distinct a genre that it would be possible to create a full-length anthology from deer encounter poems alone, and many varieties of experience would emerge from such an exercise. - Author: John Burnside
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#40. It is common knowledge now that we depend on insects for our continued existence; that, without key pollinators, the human population would collapse in less than a decade. - Author: John Burnside
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#41. With all the goodwill and local initiative in the world, we are not about to rewild anything until we change our way of thinking about our place in the creaturely world. - Author: John Burnside
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#42. People will occasionally ask me if I understand what it's like to be lonely. And the truth is I don't, because for me, solitariness is a blessing, a gift. Me, I get on fine with myself. - Author: John Burnside
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#43. For the Yupik, all life was continuous, animal with human with 'spirit', and recognising that continuum allowed them to undergo transformations that we, locked into our own disappointingly Cartesian skins, find impossible even to imagine. - Author: John Burnside
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#44. No one could say it was my choice to kill the twins, any more than it was my decision to bring them into the world. - Author: John Burnside
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#45. I'm interested in the way language is used to navigate the world around us. - Author: John Burnside
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#46. When I was ten years old, my family left a cold, damp prefab in West Fife and moved to Corby, Northamptonshire, where my father quickly found work at what was then the Stewarts & Lloyds steelworks. - Author: John Burnside
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#47. The son of a Fife mining town sledder of coal-bings, bottle-forager, and picture-house troglodyte, I was decidedly urban and knew little about native fauna, other than the handful of birds I saw on trips to the beach or Sunday walks. - Author: John Burnside
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#48. For 10 years, I gave away my possessions every year and moved on to a new place. - Author: John Burnside
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#49. As a lifetime proposition, happiness is a discipline, no doubt; but for moments at a time, it's a piece of luck. A piece of luck and a clue: a hint, not just of what might be, but of what already exists, in the heart of a man's heart ... - Author: John Burnside
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#50. Usually, I would mistrust a book if it took that long to write. Usually, if it isn't done in two years, I suspect there's something wrong and throw it away. - Author: John Burnside
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#51. If I tell you a story, you can choose to believe me, or you can question it. - Author: John Burnside
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#52. The Botanischer Garten in Berlin has one of Europe's finer winter trails, leading in careful order from glasshouses devoted to African-American and Australian desert species, through a fine collection of tropical plants, and on to the orchid house. - Author: John Burnside
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#53. I know that the only reason American landscapes sometimes disappoint me is that, just a century before I was born, the great rivers and prairies and wild forests still existed. And they were sublime. - Author: John Burnside
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#54. I went for a walk in the Arctic Circle without map or compass. Fortunately, I was only lost for hours, not days. - Author: John Burnside
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#55. And I wake, in the cage of my bones,
on the same cold ground. - Author: John Burnside
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#56. The fabric of a garden is determined as much by its textures as by its tonal range and architectural flair. - Author: John Burnside
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#57. I don't want to suggest that matrimony was necessarily a tragic affair - some of our neighbours' marriages seemed quite functional, if somewhat routine; nevertheless, in the workaday world, it is wedlock that is most likely to offer the occasion for life-threatening disappointment. - Author: John Burnside
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#58. For a boy of ten, used to the coal bings and rust-coloured burns of Cowdenbeath, the fields and woodland of Kingswood, with its overgrown but stately avenue of copper-barked sequoias, felt like a local version of paradise. - Author: John Burnside
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#59. The conventional, and painfully artificial, separation of the human realm from the natural other is bound to perish, albeit over a period of time, until we are obliged to learn how to cultivate our gardens under the most demanding conditions. - Author: John Burnside
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#60. I'm an insomniac, so my perfect reader is probably another insomniac. - Author: John Burnside
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#61. With fiction, I tend to get to my desk and start writing. Poetry I write in my head, often while walking, so that my poems have an organic quality, hopefully. - Author: John Burnside
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#62. This is a truth that should be repeated like a mantra: to have any chance of a ful - filling life, we require not only clean air and a steady climate, but also an abundance of meadows and woodlands, rivers and oceans, teeming with life and the mass existence of other living creatures. - Author: John Burnside
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#63. Hunted for sport by the rich, then driven from large tracts of its natural habitat by agricultural and housing development, the giant panda deserves better than to be scrubbed from conservation's ledger books through false accounting. - Author: John Burnside
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#64. Our response to the world is essentially one of wonder, of confronting the mysterious with a sense, not of being small, or insignificant, but of being part of a rich and complex narrative. - Author: John Burnside
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#65. I always wanted to be a painter. I loved painting. I went on three different art courses but had no talent whatsoever. - Author: John Burnside
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#66. It takes a true encounter to realise that real animals, wild animals, have all but passed from our lives. - Author: John Burnside
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#67. 'The Gardener' is more than a marvellous collection of images by a master photographer. - Author: John Burnside
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#68. In time, we will have to recognise that it is not 'nature' that we need to protect, but ourselves, and we can only do this by abandoning the old, grandiose, profit-seeking schemes so beloved of our masters and learning to till the soil, live to scale, and live within our means. - Author: John Burnside
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#69. Irrationality interests me more than anything: sometimes it's very dangerous, but it can be incredibly beautiful. - Author: John Burnside
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#70. As a child, I read a great many books in which animals and birds played significant roles, not only in the narrative itself, but also in creating the emotional and psychological atmosphere of that narrative - the imaginative furniture, as it were, in which any story unfolds. - Author: John Burnside
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#71. Sometimes you linger days
upon a word,
a single, uncontaminated drop
of sound; for days

it trembles, liquid to the mind,
then falls:
mere denotation
dimming the undertow of language. - Author: John Burnside
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#72. With human beings it could be argued that all music-making is, in essence, grounded in improvisation. - Author: John Burnside
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#73. I love long sentences. My big heroes of fiction writing are Henry James and Proust - people who recognise that life doesn't consist of declarative statements, but rather modifications, qualifications and feelings. - Author: John Burnside
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#74. The definition of a page-turner really aught to be that this page is so good, you can't bear to leave it behind, but then the next page is there and it might be just as amazing as this one. - Author: John Burnside
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#75. A man was defined, in my father's circles, by what he could bear, the pain he could shrug off, the warmth or comfort he could deny himself. - Author: John Burnside
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#76. Today, however, she didn't go looking for urchins or broken shells. She simply walked to the end of the earth and stood a while. - Author: John Burnside
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#77. One day I was talking about what I was going to do next, and just found myself announcing it: 'I'm going to write a book about my father.' - Author: John Burnside
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#78. What the flamingo teaches a child, at that subliminal level where animal encounters work, is that gravity is not just a limitation, but also a possible partner in an intriguing, potentially joyful game. - Author: John Burnside
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#79. Snow isn't just pretty. It also cleanses our world and our senses, not just of the soot and grime of a Fife mining town but also of a kind of weary familiarity, a taken-for-granted quality to which our eyes are all too susceptible. - Author: John Burnside
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#80. A mad person isn't someone who sees what isn't there; he's someone who sees what is there but that others can't see. I really believe that. - Author: John Burnside
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#81. More often than not, the demons of our nature love a recluse; nobody is more vulnerable to himself than the solitary. To imagine that one can simply withdraw, and somehow achieve peace, or wisdom, or detachment, is a mistake. It is also, in most cases, inappropriate, selfish, and even cowardly. - Author: John Burnside
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#82. 'The Asylum Dance' was written after I'd moved back to Scotland and was a response to moving to my old home area of Fife. - Author: John Burnside
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#83. [ ... ] and the barred owl calls from the well of my mind,
more echo than thought, as it fades through the wind
and flickers away to the silence beyond
like that voice, in myself, of another. - Author: John Burnside
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#84. You can't sit down and decide what you want to write about. - Author: John Burnside
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#85. I don't like the term 'mental illness.' I'd rather just say 'mad.' Just like I always say 'loony bin,' not 'mental hospital.' - Author: John Burnside
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#86. I realised I'd spent a lot of time in my poetry trying to find a way of talking about that whereof we cannot speak. - Author: John Burnside
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#87. Thatcherite economic policy was most acutely felt in the coal industry, where tens of thousands of jobs were lost as pits were shut down. - Author: John Burnside
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#88. Andoya is in a different world, set at the northern edge of Europe in what seems to be a time and weather of its own. - Author: John Burnside
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#89. Poetry stands or falls by its music. - Author: John Burnside
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#90. This girl - this thin, cold child in a hand-me-down cardigan and faded dress - hated me, not for anything I was or had done, but because I existed, in her world, and she didn't want me there. - Author: John Burnside
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#91. Sometimes, though only in my most unguarded moments, I can still think of Annette Winters as my first love. At fifteen, she was tall, slender, very dark: an intelligent, sly girl possessed of what I think of now, though I didn't think of then, as a kind of debatable beauty. - Author: John Burnside
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#92. It may be a cliche, but cliche or not, I fear the day when the only marsh harriers or peregrines I can look at are in paintings by Joseph Wolf or Bruno Liljefors - and no matter how beautiful those works may be, life is the great thing: life, life, life. - Author: John Burnside
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#93. The trick and the beauty of language is that it seems to order the whole universe, misleading us into believing that we live in sight of a rational space, a possible harmony. - Author: John Burnside
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#94. I have never understood why so many gardeners favour straight lines and narrow, regulated borders; perhaps they think wildness could work only in a larger space. - Author: John Burnside
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#95. Worldwide, enormous areas of peatland are still being lost to agricultural development, drainage schemes, overgrazing, and exploitation-based infrastructure development projects such as roads, electricity pylons, telephone masts and gas pipelines. - Author: John Burnside
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#96. Every time I write a book, I think how I could be doing it better to please people - a nicer book with nicer characters - but I just can't. - Author: John Burnside
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#97. Andy Brown is one of our most interesting and exciting younger poets. With its love of ideas and language, his work demonstrates that there need be no barriers in poetry; that the philosophical, the lyrical and the playful can be combined in work of assured and generous vision. - Author: John Burnside
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#98. I want to venture a hypothesis that, roughly expressed, goes like this: you cannot learn to love yourself until you find something in the world to love; no matter what it is. A dog, a garden, a tree,a flight of birds, a friend ... Because what we love in ourselves is ourselves loving. - Author: John Burnside
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#99. A forest - the word dates back to the Norman occupancy, when it meant an area set aside for England's violent new masters to hunt boar and deer - is necessarily larger than a wood. It belonged to the king and was a fit place for his recreation. - Author: John Burnside
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#100. I remember when I first encountered anthropocentrism. I was in primary school and, in preparation for our confirmation, the class was learning about the afterlife. - Author: John Burnside
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