This Is a Poem That ...

By Maria Popova “A poem … is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.” “Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire,” Adrienne Rich wrote in contemplating the cultural power of poetry. But what is a poem, really, and what...

The Sane Society: Th...

By Maria Popova “The whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born, when we die.” “Every advance of intellect beyond the ordinary measure,” Schopenhauer wrote in examining the relationship between genius and insanity,...

The Measure of All T...

By Maria Popova “The fundamental fallacy of utopianism is to assume that everyone wants to live in the same utopia.” In her memoir, the trailblazing astronomer Caroline Herschel recounted frequently having to “measure the ground with poles” when she first began making astronomical...

Beloved Artist Agnes...

By Maria Popova “No-one knows what your life or life itself should be because it is in the process of being created. Life moves according to a growing consciousness of life and is completely unpredictable.” Perhaps the greatest paradox of human life is that although happiness is the most...

Six Dots: The Remark...

By Maria Popova How a tenacious boy created one of the most life-changing inventions in human history. “Communication is health; communication is truth; communication is happiness,” Virginia Woolf wrote in contemplating the elemental human need for communication. Indeed, a life deprived of...

Anthony Burgess on W...

By Maria Popova “[The] excitement we derive from a work of art is mostly the excitement of seeing connections that did not exist before, of seeing quite different aspects of life unified through a pattern.” “Because of their outstanding permanence, works of art are the most intensely worldly...

Rebecca Solnit on Br...

By Maria Popova “We are our stories, stories that can be both prison and the crowbar to break open the door of that prison.” “To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men,” the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote in her 1914 anthem against silence — an incantation which...