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Mary Austin

  • 'A man,' says Seyavi of the campoodie, 'must have a woman, but a woman who has a child will do very well.'

  • When a woman ceases to alter the fashion of her hair, you guess that she has passed the crisis of her experience.

  • The desert floras shame us with their cheerful adaptations to the seasonal limitations. Their whole duty is to flower and fruit, and they do it hardly, or with tropical luxuriance, as the rain admits. ... One hopes the land may breed like qualities in her human offspring, not tritely to 'try,' but to do.

  • The palpable sense of mystery in the desert air breeds fables, chiefly of lost treasure. ... It is a question whether it is not better to be bitten by the little horned snake of the desert that goes sidewise and strikes without coiling, than by the tradition of a lost mine.

  • For all the toll the desert takes of a man it gives compensations, deep breaths, deep sleep, and the communion of the stars.

  • Rabbits are a foolish people. They do not fight except with their own kind, nor use their paws except for feet, and appear to have no reason for existence but to furnish meals for meat-eaters. In flight they seem to rebound from the earth of their own elasticity, but keep a sober pace going to the spring. It is the young watercress that tempts them and the pleasures of society, for they seldom drink.

  • Probably we never fully credit the interdependence of wild creatures, and their cognizance of the affairs of their own kind.

  • Man is a great blunderer going about in the woods, and there is no other except the bear makes so much noise. ... The cunningest hunger is hunted in turn, and what he leaves of his kill is meat for some other. That is the economy of nature, but with it all there is not sufficient account taken of the works of man. There is no scavenger that eats tin cans, and no wild thing leaves a like disfigurement on the forest floor.

  • ... valleys are the sunken places of the earth, cañons are scored out by the glacier ploughs of God.

  • All mountain streets have streams to thread them, or deep grooves where a stream might run. You would do well to avoid that range uncomforted by singing floods. You will find it forsaken of most things but beauty and madness and death and God.

  • Choose a hill country for storms. There all the business of the weather is carried on above your horizon and loses its terror in familiarity. When you come to think about it, the disastrous storms are on the levels, sea or sand or plains. There you get only a hint of what is about to happen, the fume of the gods rising from their meeting place under the rim of the world; and when it breaks upon you there is no stay nor shelter. The terrible mewings and mouthings of a Kansas wind have the added terror of viewlessness. You are lapped in them like uprooted grass; suspect them of a personal grudge. But the storms of hill countries have other business.

  • I suppose that Italy must always lie like some lovely sunken island at the bottom of all passionate dreams, from which at the flood it may arise; the air of it is charged with subtle essences of romance. One supposes Italy must be organized for the need of lovers.

  • ... that curious social warp which obligates us most to impeach the validity of a woman's opinion at the points where it is most supported by experience.

  • I do not know who sings my songs / Before they are sung by me.

    • Mary Austin,
    • "Whence," in Poetry, A Magazine of Verse ()
  • The utmost the American novelist can hope for, if he hopes at all to see his work included in the literature of his time, is that it may eventually be found to be along in the direction of the growing tip of collective consciousness. Preeminently the novelist's gift is that of access to the collective mind.

    • Mary Austin,
    • "The American Form of the Novel," in New Republic Magazine ()
  • Man learned to resort to the dance when he felt helpless or fragmentary, when he felt dislocated in his universe.

  • The arc of my mind has an equal swing in all directions. I should say the same of your mind if I thought you would believe it. But we are so saturated with the notion that Time is a dimension accessible from one direction only, that you will at first probably be shocked by my saying that I can see truly as far in front of me as I can see exactly behind me.

  • In the common esteem, not only are the only good aboriginals dead ones, but all aboriginals are either sacred or contemptible according to the length of time they have been dead.

  • As I walk .. as I walk .. / The universe .. is walking with me .. / Beautifully .. it walks before me .... / Beautifully .. on every side .... / As I walk .. I walk with beauty.

  • Even the people who have it do not definitely know what genius is.

  • Genius may be for an hour or a thousand years; its indispensable quality is continuity with the life-push.

  • The real wonder is not that one man should be a genius, but that every man should not be.

  • If you ever, ever, ever meet a grizzly bear, / You must never, never, never ask him where / He is going, / Or what he is doing; / For if you ever, ever dare / To stop a grizzly bear, / You will never meet another grizzly bear.

    • Mary Austin,
    • "Grizzly Bear," The Children Sing in the Far West ()
  • ... religion, to be a factor in experience, must be pleasurable.

  • ... genius ... arises in the natural, aboriginal concern for the conscious unity of all phenomena.

  • People would be surprised to know how much I learned about prayer from playing poker.

    • Mary Austin,
    • in The Golden Book Magazine ()
  • It is always so much easier to be moral than it is to be spiritual.

    • Mary Austin,
    • in Alice Hegan Rice, My Pillow Book ()
  • ... a critic ... is a mental eunuch; he can criticize, but he cannot create.

    • Mary Austin,
    • in T.M. Pearce, The Beloved House ()
  • Ride your emotions as the shallop rides the waves; don't get upset among them. There are people who enjoy getting swamped emotionally, just as, incredibly, there are people who enjoy getting drunk.

    • Mary Austin
  • What women have to stand on squarely is not their ability to see the world in the way men see it, but the importance and validity of their seeing it in some other way.

    • Mary Austin

Mary Austin, U.S. suffragist, lecturer, nature writer

(1868 - 1934)

Full name: Mary Hunter Austin.