Weekend Words: Climate

Karl Blechen, “Stormy Weather over the Roman Campagna” (1829), oil on board, 28 x 45 cm. Nationalgalerie, Berlin (Image via Web Gallery of Art) (click to enlarge)

This week is Climate Change Week.

What men call gallantry, and gods adultery, is much more common where the climate’s sultry.

—Lord (George Gordon) Byron

To us he is no more a person
Than a whole climate of opinion.

—W. H. Auden, “In Memory of Sigmund Freud”

Conjecturing a Climate
Of unsuspended Suns—
Adds poignancy to Winter—
The Shivering Fancy turns

To a fictitious Country
To palliate a Cold—
Not obviated of Degree—
Nor erased—of Latitude—

—Emily Dickinson, 562

A climate, a single climate, all the time there is a single climate, any time there is a doubt, any time there is music that is to question more and more and there is no politeness, there is hardly any ordeal and certainly there is no tablecloth.

—Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

I think the climate has been changing for billions of years.

—Buzz Aldrin

We are glad of the freshness, and cooleness of a vault, but does any man keep his Christmas there; or are the pleasures of the Spring acceptable in Autumn? If happiness be in the season, or in the climate, how much happier then are birds than men, who can change the climate, and accompany, and enjoy the same season ever.

—John Donne, Devotions 14

He was by no means ill-looking; quite the contrary. His pure tight skin was an excellent fit; and closely wrapped up in it, and embalmed with inner health and strength, like a revivified Egyptian, this Starbuck seemed prepared to endure for long ages to come, and to endure always, as now; for be it Polar snow or torrid sun, like a patent chronometer, his interior vitality was warranted to do well in all climates.

—Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

They change their climate, not their soul, who rush across the sea.


These small things — nutrition, place, climate, recreation, the whole casuistry of selfishness — are inconceivably more important than everything one has taken to be important so far.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

So if we want to talk about violence and climate change, then let’s talk about climate change as violence. Rather than worrying about whether ordinary human beings will react turbulently to the destruction of the very means of their survival, let’s worry about that destruction — and their survival.

—Rebecca Solnit, “Climate Change is Violence”

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