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The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation
-James Fenton (b. 1949), British poet, critic. Ars Poetica, no. 22, in Independent on Sunday (London, 24 June 1990).

Metaphysics abstracts the mind from the senses, and the poetic faculty must submerge the whole mind in the senses. Metaphysics soars up to universals, and the poetic faculty must plunge deep into particulars
-Giambattista Vico (1688-1744), Italian philosopher, historian. The New Science, bk. 3, ch. 4, para. 821 (ed. 1744; tr. 1984).

It's not till sex has died out between a man and a woman that they can really love. And now I mean affection. Now I mean to be fond of (as one is fond of oneself)- to hope, to be disappointed, to live inside the other heart. When I look back on the pain of sex, the love like a wild fox so ready to bite, the antagonism that sits like a twin beside love, and contrast it with affection, so deeply unrepeatable, of two people who have lived a life together (and of whom one must die) it's the affection I find richer. It's that I would have again. Not all those doubtful rainbow colours
-Enid Bagnold (1889-1981), British novelist, playwright. Autobiography, ch. 6 (19

To speak of morals in art is to speak of legislature in sex. Art is the sex of the imagination
-George Jean Nathan (1882-1958), U.S. critic. "Art," in American Mercury (July 1929).

Lust is a mysterious wound in the side of humanity; or rather, at the very source of its life! To confound this lust in man with that desire which unites the sexes is like confusing a tumor with the very organ which it devours, a tumor whose very deformity horribly reproduces the shape
-Georges Bernanos (1888-1948), French novelist, political writer. The Diary of a Country Priest, ch. 4 (1936).

This is the monstruosity in love, lady, that the will is infinite and the execution confined; that the desire is boundless, and the act a slave to limit
-William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English dramatist, poet. Troilus, in Troilus and Cressida, act 3, sc. 2.

After mature deliberation of counsel, the good Queen to establish a rule and imitable example unto all posterity, for the moderation and required modesty in a lawful marriage, ordained the number of six times a day as a lawful, necessary and competent limit
-Michel de Montaigne (1533-92), French essayist. Essays, bk. 3, ch. 5, "Upon Some Verses of Virgil" (tr. by John Florio, 1588), of the Queen of Aragon.

All nature's creatures join to express nature's purpose. Somewhere in their mounting and mating, rutting and butting is the very secret of nature itself
-Graham Swift (b. 1949), British novelist, short-story writer. Shuttlecock, ch. 11 (1981).

I know it does make people happy, but to me it is just like having a cup of tea
-Cynthia Payne (b. 1934), British housewife, brothel-keeper. Remark, 8 Nov. 1987. Quoted in: Sunday Correspondent (London, 24 Dec. 1989), after Paine was acquitted of running a brothel in Streatham, South London, in the "sex-for-luncheon-vouchers" case.

In particular I may mention Sophocles the poet, who was once asked in my presence, "How do you feel about love, Sophocles? are you still capable of it?" to which he replied, "Hush! if you please: to my great delight I have escaped from it, and feel as if I had escaped from a frantic and savage master." I thought then, as I do now, that he spoke wisely. For unquestionably old age brings us profound repose and freedom from this and other passions
-Plato (c. 427-347 B.C.), Greek philosopher. Cephalus, in The Republic, bk. 1, sct. 329.

Older women are best, because they always think they may be doing it for the last time
-Ian Fleming (1908-64), British author. Notebook entry. Quoted in: John Pearson, The Life of Ian Fleming, ch. 8, sct. 1 (1966).

Painting and fucking a lot are not compatible; it weakens the brain
-Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90), Dutch painter. Letter, June 1888 (published in The Complete Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, vol. 3, no. B7, 1958).

Sex is a short cut to everything
-Anne Cumming (b. 1917), British author. The Love Quest, ch. 1 (1991), opening line of her autobiography.

Sex is the mysticism of materialism and the only possible religion in a materialistic society
-Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-90), British broadcaster. Television broadcast, BBC1, 21 Oct. 1965. Quoted in: Muggeridge Through the Microphone, "The American Way of Sex" (1967).

Sex is. There is nothing more to be done about it. Sex builds no roads, writes no novels and sex certainly gives no meaning to anything in life but itself
-Gore Vidal (b. 1925), U.S. novelist, critic. "Norman Mailer's Self-Advertisements," in Nation (New York, 2 Jan. 1960; repr. in Homage to Daniel Shays: Collected Essays 1952-1972, 1974).

Sex pleasure in woman . . . is a kind of magic spell; it demands complete abandon; if words or movements oppose the magic of caresses, the spell is broken
-Simone De Beauvoir (1908-86), French novelist, essayist. The Second Sex, bk. 2, pt. 4, ch. 3 (1953).

Sexual love is undoubtedly one of the chief things in life, and the union of mental and bodily satisfaction in the enjoyment of love is one of its culminating peaks. Apart from a few queer fanatics, all the world knows this and conducts its life accordingly; science alone is too delicate to admit it
-Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Austrian psychiatrist. Observations on Transference-Love (1915; repr. in Complete Works, vol. 12, ed. by James Strachey and Anna Freud, 1958).

Skill makes love unending
-Ovid (43 B.C.-17 A.D.), Roman poet. Ars Amatoria, bk. 3.

The human spirit sublimates
the impulses it thwarts:
a healthy sex life mitigates
the lust for other sports

-Piet Hein (b. 1905), Danish inventor, poet. Grooks, "Hint and Suggestion" (1966), admonitory grook addressed to youth.

The law of God, as quite plainly expressed in woman's construction, is this: There shall be no limit put upon your intercourse with the other sex sexually, at any time of life. . . . During twenty-three days in every month (in the absence of pregnancy) from the time a woman is seven years old till she dies of old age, she is ready for action, and competent. As competent as the candlestick is to receive the candle. Competent every day, competent every night. Also, she wants that candle- yearns for it, longs for it, hankers after it, as commanded by the law of God in her heart
-Mark Twain (1835-1910), U.S. author. Satan, in Letters from the Hearth, Letter 8 (ed. by Bernard De Voto, 19

There comes a moment in the day when you have written your pages in the morning, attended to your correspondence in the afternoon, and have nothing further to do. Then comes that hour when you are bored; that's the time for sex
-H. G. Wells (1866-1946), British author. Quoted in: Charlie Chaplin, My Autobiography, ch. 16 (1964).

There goes a saying, and 'twas shrewdly said,
Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed

-Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English satirical poet. January and May, a translation of Geoffrey Chaucer, The Merchant's Tale, written aged sixteen or seventeen.

We must reckon with the possibility that something in the nature of the sexual instinct itself is unfavorable to the realization of complete satisfaction
-Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Austrian psychiatrist. On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love, sct. 3 (1912; repr. in Complete Works, vol. 11, ed. by James Strachey and Anna Freud, 1957).

What holds the world together, as I have learned from bitter experience, is sexual intercourse
-Henry Miller (1891-1980), U.S. author. Tropic of Capricorn (1938; repr. 1966, p. 174).
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