View Full Version : Favorite quotes from literature

09-26-2009, 10:17 PM
Can be poetry or prose, just what lights you hour or day.

I'll start with some Dinesen.

"If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?"
Isak Dinesen

09-26-2009, 10:21 PM
"Kiss my white anglo ass."
Ernest Hemingway to a surly porter in Africa


Edit-oops- not from literature but from a literary hero of mine nonetheless

09-27-2009, 12:11 AM
..."Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

tennyson, "ulysses"

i find it most appropriate today, when my 70 yr old father arrived by motorcycle from albqq nm to see my month old son.

Jim Bow
09-27-2009, 12:19 AM
I can't remember the quote, and my books are still in boxes in the garage.
Find a copy of "From Here to Eternity", thumb through to the part where Prewitt staggers back to Scholfield Barracks after the multiple forced marches up Kolekole Pass. The quote has to do with hot coffee and toasted Spam and egg sandwiches.

09-27-2009, 06:48 AM
"Remember the good, forget the bad."


Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-27-2009, 07:00 AM
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire
Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Full of the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll#
Chill Penury repressed their noble rage
And froze the genial currents of the soul.

Full many a gem, of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyyard, 1746.

I learned it by heart as a boy; odd passages recur to me almost daily.

09-27-2009, 07:23 AM
”The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his essay Self Reliance

09-27-2009, 07:25 AM
"This," he said playing with it, "is a stone, and will, after a
certain time, perhaps turn into soil, and will turn from soil into a
plant or animal or human being. In the past, I would have said: This
stone is just a stone, it is worthless, it belongs to the world of the
Maja; but because it might be able to become also a human being and a
spirit in the cycle of transformations, therefore I also grant it
importance. Thus, I would perhaps have thought in the past. But today
I think: this stone is a stone, it is also animal, it is also god, it is
also Buddha, I do not venerate and love it because it could turn into
this or that, but rather because it is already and always everything--
and it is this very fact, that it is a stone, that it appears to me now
and today as a stone, this is why I love it and see worth and purpose in
each of its veins and cavities, in the yellow, in the gray, in the
hardness, in the sound it makes when I knock at it, in the dryness or
wetness of its surface. There are stones which feel like oil or soap,
and others like leaves, others like sand, and every one is special and
prays the Om in its own way, each one is Brahman, but simultaneously and
just as much it is a stone, is oily or juicy, and this is this very fact
which I like and regard as wonderful and worthy of worship.--But let me
speak no more of this. The words are not good for the secret meaning,
everything always becomes a bit different, as soon as it is put into
words, gets distorted a bit, a bit silly--yes, and this is also very
good, and I like it a lot, I also very much agree with this, that this
what is one man's treasure and wisdom always sounds like foolishness to
another person."
-Siddhartha, Herman Hesse


"A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but
the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar,
and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I
will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest
the least syllable of thy addition."
— William Shakespeare (King Lear)