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Josephine Johnson

  • She lives in the lives of others as though she hadn't one of her own.

  • ... things that have cost more than they're worth leave a bitter taste. A taste of salt and sweat.

  • ... the woods seemed all answer and healing and more than enough to live for ...

  • ... in mad people fear goes on constantly, night and day, wearing one ditch in the mind that all thoughts must travel in.

  • What is sanity, after all, except the control of madness?

  • How shall I make love go through the sieve of words and come out something besides a pulp?

  • Everything drops away, comes to be unimportant in the dark. It's like sleep almost. A freedom from self, from ugliness ...

  • [On farming:] It's a pleasanter way of losing money than most.

  • The dead elm leaves hung like folded bats.

  • The heat was like a hand on the face all day and night.

  • And blessed are they who have learned the rhythms of the invisible clock whose hours and minutes are immense and soundless. The great clock of the seasons and the years, and the small clock of the intuition, whose timing is guided by the heart.

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "A Time for Everything," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, Meditations for Women ()
  • To have children is a double living, the earthly fountain of youth, a continual fresh delight, a volcano as well as a fountain, and also a source of weariness beyond description ...

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "A Time for Everything," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, Meditations for Women ()
  • There is 'a time to be born' — and born again, free of accumulated, encrusted sores of fears and prejudices, old hates, of cancerous wounds, old prides. And there is a time to die — a time for the blue, unburied child of our young years to be decently interred — and to get on with the living.

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "A Time for Everything," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, Meditations for Women ()
  • The writer's advantage, in some respects, over those whose expression lies in other fields, is in the privilege of a double — sometimes a triple — living. Pleasure multiplied in the mirrors of words, and pain siphoned off in words.

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "A Time for Everything," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, Meditations for Women ()
  • You can't be a little bit saintly any more than you can be a little bit pregnant.

  • I am sick of war. Every woman of my generation is sick of war. Fifty years of war. Wars rumored, wars beginning, wars fought, wars ending, wars paid for, wars endured.

  • ... pacifists lead a lonely life. Not even gathering together can take the place of that vast, warm sun of approval that is shed on motherhood, on law-abiding, on killing, and on making money. Someday will we come into our own? Well, motherhood may move into the shade. Law-abiding is going through a trauma. But killing and making money are good for a long, long time.

  • Old people who live too long come to resemble turtles. As though time turned in a curve, and down they go to the reptiles again. Not the little wet naked frog they were born. But the tortoise. Cold eyes, sagging circles of skin, the nose becomes beak. The shell of sleep.

  • Freedom is no guarantee of anything. It is only defined today by what it is not. What it is takes forms strange and of infinite variety — bizarre as in a masquerade.

  • The Pentagon is the greatest power on earth today. ... There it sits, a terrible mass of concrete, on our minds, on our hearts, squat on top of our lives. Its power penetrates into every single life. It is in the very air we breathe. The water we drink. Because of its insatiable demands we are drained and we are polluted.

  • We are dying of preconceptions, outworn rules, decaying flags, venomous religions, and sentimentalities. We need a new world. We've wrenched up all the old roots. The old men have no roots. They don't know it. They just go on talking and flailing away and falling down on the young with their tons of dead weight and their power. For the power is still there, in their life-in-death. But the roots are dead, and the land is poisoned for miles around them.

  • New gods arise when they are needed.

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "On a Winter Morning," in Ohio ()
  • Teach the legal rights of trees, the nobility of hills; respect the beauty of singularity, the value of solitude.

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "On a Winter Morning," in Ohio ()

Josephine Johnson, U.S. writer

(1910 - 1990)

Full name: Josephine Winslow Johnson.