So far, I (pup) am the only one contributing to this page. These writing samples are examples of work I look up to. I always try to write like these writers wrote these samples, but if my work is half as good as theirs I feel happy. These are also examples of what I call "perfect writing." By reading these samples, you can see the kind of writer I can only slavishly hope to become.
The "What a piece of work is a man" segment of this speech drives me to tears. But I decided to print the entire speech (given by Prince Hamlet) because it is an example of perfect writing.
I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the King and queene: moult no feather. I have of late, (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o'er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire: why, it appeareth no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man, How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, In form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so.
pup has long searched for the right words for his belief that poverty rocks. It's a hard argument, because poverty can destroy hearts and minds. But Bukowski's words capture the idea perfectly. They were attributed to him on the Charles Bukowski facebook page. pup believes it.
"It was wintertime. I was starving to death trying to be a writer in New York. I hadn't eaten for three or four days. So, I finally said, "I'm gonna have a big bag of popcorn." And God, I hadn't tasted food for so long, it was so good. Each kernel, you know, each one was like a steak! I chewed and it would just drop into my poor stomach. My stomach would say, "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!" I was in heaven, just walking along, and two guys happened by, and one said to the other, "Jesus Christ!" The other one said, "What was it?" "Did you see that guy eating popcorn? God, it was awful!" And so I couldn't enjoy the rest of the popcorn. I thought; what do you mean, "it was awful?" I'm in heaven here. I guess I was kinda dirty. They can always tell a fucked-up guy."
I remember walking in mama was crying cause we ain’t have food for the morning I remember locking the door looking into the mirror and then making a promise To sacrifice every single breath I breathe Just to commit to the calling It hurts it feels like I’m about to break but I gotta break through for the process Please don’t stop yet Got my lil brothers and sisters they out here counting on Z that’s why I don’t sleep Went to a family of 9 from a family of 3 now this is bigger than me I know tomorrow doesn’t always show up We still miss you Hakeem You said I’d do shows in arenas and that you’d be in the league And I woulda had courtside seats You know I woulda had courtside seats Life gets hard sometimes But God I choose to believe Cause every battle I fought Created the man I would be When I let go of myself then I was finally free I’m not afraid anymore, got something to say for you Lord I will raise my voice so I don’t wait anymore You know what I’ve done wrong yet you still paid my price You knew I hated you yet you still gave your life I saw Yeshua on the cross, The Face of Love And I’ll never be the same cause I’ve been washed by The Blood Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Power in Your Name, mmm Power in Your Name Demons must flee And the chains have to fall There is freedom in your name Freedom in your name Cause God is on my side God is on my side (believe in your heart) God is on my side (believe in your heart) God is on my side, mmm (believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and you shall be saved)
Richard Siken is a brilliant poet who pup can't recommend enough. Original line breaks.
Two lovers went to the museum and wandered the
rooms. He saw a painting and stood in front of it
for too long. It was a few minutes before she
realized he had gotten stuck. He was stuck looking
at a painting. She stood next to him, looking at his
face and then the face in the painting. What do you
see? she asked. I don’t know, he said. He didn’t
know. She was disappointed, then bored. He was
looking at a face and she was looking at her watch.
This is where everything changed. There was now
a distance between them. He was looking at a face
but it might as well have been a cabbage or a
sugar beet. Perhaps it was something about yellow
near pink. He didn’t know how to say it. Years later
he still didn’t know how to say it, and she was gone.
The Russians began to force conscript soldiers around this time, both at home and in the Donetsk region of occupied Ukraine. This is a quote picked up from then.
A mother living in Donetsk said in an interview that her son had initially avoided conscription because he had previously completed his military service.
“He wasn’t the fighting type,” she said, recalling he would tell her: “Mum, I just can’t kill a person.” But in April, she said, he was picked up off the street, put on a bus and driven to the conscription office, with time only to call his mother and ask her to bring him some personal belongings. “They drove him to the conscription office, changed his clothes, changed his shoes and drove him to the base and then to the fighting,” she said.
He was killed a few weeks later. “I think he probably didn’t kill anyone, in the end,” she added. “He didn’t get the time.”
This is possibly the greatest poem written in the last two thousand years.
Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound,
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.
Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch.
These are the measures destined for her soul.
Jove in the clouds had his inhuman birth.
No mother suckled him, no sweet land gave
Large-mannered motions to his mythy mind.
He moved among us, as a muttering king,
Magnificent, would move among his hinds,
Until our blood, commingling, virginal,
With heaven, brought such requital to desire
The very hinds discerned it, in a star.
Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be
The blood of paradise? And shall the earth
Seem all of paradise that we shall know?
The sky will be much friendlier then than now,
A part of labor and a part of pain,
And next in glory to enduring love,
Not this dividing and indifferent blue.
She says, “I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?”
There is not any haunt of prophecy,
Nor any old chimera of the grave,
Neither the golden underground, nor isle
Melodious, where spirits gat them home,
Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm
Remote on heaven’s hill, that has endured
As April’s green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of awakened birds,
Or her desire for June and evening, tipped
By the consummation of the swallow’s wings.
She says, “But in contentment I still feel
The need of some imperishable bliss.”
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfilment to our dreams
And our desires. Although she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths,
The path sick sorrow took, the many paths
Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love
Whispered a little out of tenderness,
She makes the willow shiver in the sun
For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze
Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.
She causes boys to pile new plums and pears
On disregarded plate. The maidens taste
And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.
Is there no change of death in paradise?
Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
With rivers like our own that seek for seas
They never find, the same receding shores
That never touch with inarticulate pang?
Why set the pear upon those river-banks
Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?
Alas, that they should wear our colors there,
The silken weavings of our afternoons,
And pick the strings of our insipid lutes!
Death is the mother of beauty, mystical,
Within whose burning bosom we devise
Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.
Supple and turbulent, a ring of men
Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn
Their boisterous devotion to the sun,
Not as a god, but as a god might be,
Naked among them, like a savage source.
Their chant shall be a chant of paradise,
Out of their blood, returning to the sky;
And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice,
The windy lake wherein their lord delights,
The trees, like serafin, and echoing hills,
That choir among themselves long afterward.
They shall know well the heavenly fellowship
Of men that perish and of summer morn.
And whence they came and whither they shall go
The dew upon their feet shall manifest.
She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
Source: The Collected Poems (1954)
In In Search of the Free Individual - The History of the Russian-Soviet Soul, Belorussian Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich wrote that “the Russian soul is an enigma. We lived together in a country where we were taught to die beginning in childhood. We learned death and dying. We weren’t taught that humans are born for happiness, or love. It was drilled into us that humans exist in order to give of themselves, in order to burn, to sacrifice. We were taught to love people with weapons.”
He had wanted to be in the movie business. It’s important to never forget this about him. He watches Sunset Boulevard, “one of the greatest of all time,” again and again and again. A silent-picture star sidelined by the talkies, driven to madness, in denial over her faded celebrity. When he was a businessman, he showed it to guests aboard his 727. When he was president, he held screenings of it for White House staff at Camp David.
He once showed it to his press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who later described how “the president, who could never sit still for anything without talking on the phone, sending a tweet, or flipping through TV channels, sat enthralled.” And he once showed it to Tim O’Brien, the biographer, who wrote that when Norma Desmond cried, “Those idiot producers. Those imbeciles! Haven’t they got any eyes? Have they forgotten what a star looks like? I’ll show them. I’ll be up there again, so help me!,” Trump leaned over O’Brien’s shoulder and whispered, “Is this an incredible scene or what? Just incredible.”
A washed-up star locked away in a mansion from the 1920s, afraid of the world outside, afraid it will remind him that time has passed … Well, he does not like the way it sounds for Trump. He still talks that way, in the third person. “This was the same thing in 2016. They said first, ‘Oh, Trump is just doing it for fun,’ and then they learned that wasn’t true,” he told me. “And then they said, ‘Well, he won’t win.’ And they learned that wasn’t true.”