THERE ARE DOORS in the mind through which only the brave may pass. Heavy golden doors, gem-encrusted, set in crystal, sealed with a thick sealing of blackest pitch. They open not to the ordinary hand, to the reasonable the well-groomed the wary - they open only to the hand that trembles, trembles! I say with fear and yet reaches out... To pass beyond these doors is to enter a kingdom of loneliness, a blue and gold wasteland where the fires of hell flicker underfoot and the choirs of heaven hum just audibly behind the burning yellow sky. At the end of this wasteland - for it has an end! God is merciful, after all - there is another door, a small door, and simple, made of soft, unpainted wood - one would hardly notice it if one were not already on the look-out for just such a door. It is so small one will most likely have to stoop to pass through. It opens easily to a light pressure of the hand. But if you have come this far! Why, then you may go in. This is the door to the human heart.
- Poetry and Fear [novel]
I CAME HERE first of all to work. By which I mean not only, nor even in the first place, to make black marks on paper, but also to look about me, to observe the passing scene, to tread in the iron-clad footsteps of dead Crusaders along the black shores of a wine dark sea, to pose for my official portrait with the ancient temple of Segeste serving as the highly appropriate backdrop or stage set if you will. I have with me (and yet not with me, for he has a room of his own) a young painter who calls himself Danzig although I am convinced that is not his real name. More than once I have heard the waiter address him in an undertone as "Lorenzaccio". This so-called Danzig claims to have been an officer in the Austrian Navy and to have learned his excellent Italian in Trieste, where he served on board a submarine. He has already painted the Archduke, and now he is to paint me.
- Scarabocchio [novel]
Asleep in my starry tent
Asleep in my blue white skin
I am a rose of Sharon
I am a tower of ivory
I am a vessel of gold
I sleep but my heart
Open to me, my Sister, my Bride!
- Berlin Elegies [poem cycle]
IT WAS WINTER when I first caught sight of him on the pond in St. James's Park, for the sky was dark gray, the air was cold enough to kill, the snowdrops shivered in the wind like little mad girls who had wandered out in nothing but their chemises to die of the cold - It was winter then, although later that day it would be spring, when the sun appeared at last, and also in Venice of course, where it was to shine more brightly then ever upon the lagoon and in all the silver channels that lap the walls of broken palaces - but in the beginning it was certainly winter.
- The Black Swan [short story]
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