…about love

“Drink, friends — drink, great and small from the bitter cup of love! No special qualifications required. Standing room only. And it is easy to be cruel — one need only not love. Love too understands neither Aramaic or Russian. Love is like the nails used to pierce hands.

The stag uses its antlers in combat, the nightingale does not sing in vain, but our books avail us nothing. This wound will not heal.

All we have is the yellow walls of houses, lit by the sun; we have our books and we have man’s entire civilization, built by us on the way to love.

And the precept to be light-hearted.

But what about all the pain?

Give everything a cosmic dimension, take your heart in your teeth, write a book.”

from ‘Zoo or Letters Not About Love’ Viktor Shklovsky, 1923 (trans. Richard Sheldon)

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