OpinionWeekend

Weekend Words: Voice

Gustave Moreau, “The Voices” (1867), watercolor and gouache on paper, 220 x 115 mm. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (Image via Web Gallery of Art)

In a switch, the Nobel Committee, citing her “polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time,” awarded its literature prize to the Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, best known for her 1999 nonfiction book Voices from Chernobyl.

I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still.

—Sylvia Plath, Letters Home

If you hear a voice within you saying, You are not a painter, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

—Vincent Van Gogh

Violence in the voice is often only the death rattle of reason in the throat.

—John F. Boyes

I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests.

—Pablo Neruda

You are born an artist or you are not. And you stay an artist, dear, even if your voice is less of a fireworks. The artist is always there.

—Maria Callas

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

—Wallace Stevens, “The Idea of Order at Key West”

I wish I had the voice of Homer to sing of rectal carcinoma.

J.B.S. Haldane

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance and lust,
The Inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.

—Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Protest”

The screech and mechanical uproar of the big city turns the citified head, fills citified ears — as the song of birds, wind in the trees, animal cries, or as the voices and songs of his loved ones once filled his heart. He is sidewalk-happy.

—Frank Lloyd Wright, The Living City, Pt. 1, Earth

Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.

—H. L. Mencken

Man will become immeasurably stronger, wiser, and subtler; his body will become more harmonious, his movements more rhythmic, his voice more musical. The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above these heights, new peaks will rise.

—Leon Trotsky

In the different voice of women lies the truth of an ethic of care, the tie between relationship and responsibility, and the origins of aggression in the failure of connection.

—Carol Gilligan

Censorship is saying: ‘I’m the one who says the last sentence. Whatever you say, the conclusion is mine.’ But the internet is like a tree that is growing. The people will always have the last word – even if someone has a very weak, quiet voice. Such power will collapse because of a whisper.

—Ai Weiwei

May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine.

—Frank Sinatra

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