What is your favourite line of literature?

(140 Posts)
SkaterGrrrrl Wed 26-Mar-14 15:30:45

I love the opening line of Rebecca, it gives me the shivers.

Also love this line, which the Literary Book Company have put on mugs, tea towels and so forth:

"'She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." - Louisa May Alcott.

SkaterGrrrrl Wed 26-Mar-14 15:31:22

Oh and to include children's books, in Just So Stories I love "The great grey-green greasy Limpopo river, all set about with fever trees".

Evocative and just perfect!

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Wed 26-Mar-14 19:34:53

Skater I love the last line of Rebecca even more than the first line - And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea." Perfect.

Maybe not my favourite, but certainly one of the most memorable: Jude's son in Jude the Obscure leaves a note after killing his siblings and himself - "Done becus we are too meny" (I may have got the spelling wrong) So sad.

Can't possibly choose just one, but I'll give you these whilst I think on it:

You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Captain Wentworth in, 'Persuasion.'

“First comes smiles, then lies. Last is gunfire.-Roland Deschain, of Gilead, in King's Dark Tower series.

“And will I tell you that these three lived happily ever after? I will not, for no one ever does. But there was happiness. And they did live.” Ditto.

You have bewitched me, body and soul - an obvious one but too good to ignore!

MrsDavidBowie Wed 26-Mar-14 19:36:51

What larks Pip, what larks
Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.

It is on my dad's gravestone.

Fruityb Wed 26-Mar-14 19:37:54

"As he read I fell in love like you fall asleep; slowly then all at once" from The Fault in Our Stars.

joanofarchitrave Wed 26-Mar-14 19:38:58

'I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.'

IDoAllMyOwnStunts Wed 26-Mar-14 19:39:47

Not sure it's my favourite but definitely one of the saddest is in Charlottes Web ' no one was with her when she died'. Sob

AppleSnow Wed 26-Mar-14 19:45:54

Definitely with you Remus on 'you pierce my soul' from Persuasion - has to be one of the best love letters in literature.

cottonwoolmum Wed 26-Mar-14 19:48:36

Some great ones here - love the Rebecca lines, and gorgeous Captain Wentworth phwoar

Mine's two lines: 'I held him. I held that half of him' from 'Nobody Said Anything' - Raymond Carver's short story about a boy with warring parents. It breaks my heart every time.

Also love: 'In my younger and more vulnerable years...' but mainly because I know that the whole of the Great Gatsby follows and it is the best book ever

'Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order.' Samuel Becket, 'Waiting for Godot.'

SkaterGrrrrl Wed 26-Mar-14 20:55:18

What a fantastic epitaph, MrsDavidBowie.

I haven't read The Fault in the Stars, but I want to now!

Celticlassie Sat 29-Mar-14 07:20:19

"Men and girls came and went like moths, among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

And, in fact, most of Gatsby. It's the most wonderful book to read aloud.

MrsDavidBowie Sat 29-Mar-14 13:22:12

I love the Gatsby quote

DrankSangriaInThePark Sat 29-Mar-14 13:25:35

The last paragraph of Gatsby....one fine day....so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

That's not the right order, but it's the order it always comes to me in!

DrankSangriaInThePark Sat 29-Mar-14 13:28:07

"and you will be happy to have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And from time to time you will open your window just for the pleasure of it...And your friends will be astonished to see you laughing while staring at the sky. And you will say to them, yes, stars always make me laugh"

The Little Prince.

myrtleWilson Sat 29-Mar-14 13:32:08

I was going to say that line too drank

myrtleWilson Sat 29-Mar-14 13:32:34

The Gatsby one I meant!

PetiteRaleuse Sat 29-Mar-14 13:32:49

The Little Prince is so full of wisdom it's hard to pick out one quote, but I do like that one.

First and last lines of Rebecca also brilliant. I love the way Daphne du Maurier wrote.

magimedi Sat 29-Mar-14 13:41:12

The preface to Howards End:

"Only connect".

If everyone followed that life would be so much easier.

blueemerald Sat 29-Mar-14 13:45:31

Awake, arise or be forever fallen

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.

Heaven is for thee too high
To know what passes there; be lowly wise.
Think only what concerns thee and thy being;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition, or degree,
Contented that thus far hath been revealed.

- Paradise Lost. I'm not religious but it is just the most fabulous text.

AntiDistinctlyMinty Sat 29-Mar-14 13:53:01

The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it. White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise. - J.R.R Tolkien.

NuggetofPurestGreen Sat 29-Mar-14 21:37:48

Remus I love the first line of The Gunslinger too, 'The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed'. Last line great too.

However 'you have bewitched me body and soul' is not in literature, Darcy would never say that! wink

No I know, but he SHOULD have done. smile

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” What he really says. But you have bewitched me is too good to ignore. smile

herladyship Sat 29-Mar-14 22:33:29

So many Terry Pratchett lines to choose from, but I particularly like

'Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.'

NuggetofPurestGreen Sat 29-Mar-14 22:37:48

I much prefer what he really says. It's so stilted! And he says 'admire' before he says love. grin Whereas the other is too romantic and passionate.

From Othello:

Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely, but too well.
Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought,
Perplexed in the extreme.

MrsRuffdiamond Sat 29-Mar-14 22:48:25

There were some times, ...... at night and the bus almost empty, when you could sit in the dark with the rise and fall of the land under you, and feel that you had a time out of life, a cool private respite.

From A Hall of Mirrors by Robert Stone

I really like both of them, and don't find "You have bewitched me" unbelievable - Darcy has been captivated by her for so long at the point of the proposal. When he openly admires her "fine eyes" to that bitch Miss Bingley, he's clearly so smitten that he can't stop himself! And I love all that wandering around and bumping into her on her favourite walks stuff too! smile

NuggetofPurestGreen Sat 29-Mar-14 22:55:04

It does say he is bewitched by her at some point in the book but it's the narrator - I don't think he'd use the words, think he's too formal. But I haven't actually seen the 2005 film so maybe it works for the character in that...

The film is good. Everybody on here hates it, but I like it. Matthew M is a much better Darcy than Colin Firth!

ithaka Sat 29-Mar-14 22:59:14

I love me some Beckett:

"you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on"

"the freedom of a slave to crawl east on the deck of a boat travelling west"

Matthew Arnold's "unplumbed, salt, estranging sea" has always come to me whenever I am near the sea.

Yes, Austen says it - she goes on to say something along the lines of that despite him being bewitched, he's still safe from her because of her inferior connections, so he's in no danger. grin

The Becket line about, 'We give birth astride the grave' excellent too - though v depressing!

LavenderGreen14 Sat 29-Mar-14 23:01:46

"And at home by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be -- and whenever I look up there will be you." from Far From the Madding Crowd.

NuggetofPurestGreen Sat 29-Mar-14 23:02:15

I just assumed I would hate it so didn't watch it. I just got tired of Austen adaptations which turn them into romcoms more or less and this looked like a likely candidate!! grin

Have you ever seen the mad old version with Greer Garson in it???

Have seen the mad old version but so long ago that I barely remember it.

My favourite JA adaptation is the Kate Beckinsale, 'Emma' one.

seasalt Sat 29-Mar-14 23:06:06

"I cannot bear to think that he is alive in the world and thinking ill of me." from P&P

QueenAnneofAustria Sat 29-Mar-14 23:06:33

Oh what a lovely thread. Darcy, 'in vain I have tried' and Wentworths, 'you pierce my soul' spring instantly to mind.

There are so so many. Off to peruse.

NuggetofPurestGreen Sat 29-Mar-14 23:06:46

I do like that one. Much better than the Paltrow one.

The 1940 P&P they change the ending so it turns out Lady Catherine is in cahoots with Darcy and demands that Elizabeth not marry him in order to get her to change her mind and to see if she really loves him. A jolly old wheeze is had by all.

<apologies for thread derail!>

Ugh I detest the Paltrow one.

The idea of Lady C doing anything pleasant is far more far-fetched than Darcy saying, "You have bewitched me" I think. grin

I adore the Harriet in the Kate B Emma.

QueenAnneofAustria Sat 29-Mar-14 23:14:54

The Kate B one is absolutely fantastic. I really like Mr. Knightly, he was very well cast against her Emma.

QueenAnneofAustria Sat 29-Mar-14 23:17:14

Oh I just thought of one, I apologise in advance if I don't get it quite right at this time of night.

"You should be kissed often, and by somebody who knows how." Rhett Butler

Struggling to remember if that line was in the book or not, but I am sure it was.

castlesintheair Sat 29-Mar-14 23:31:09

"Happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain." Mayor of Casterbridge

DrankSangriaInThePark Sun 30-Mar-14 08:23:24

"He's come to take my soul" she thought, "but I don't remember saying he could have it"

John Le Carre, the Little Drummer Girl

"If he had not wanted me to love him, he should not have looked at me" Graham Green

notnowImreading Sun 30-Mar-14 08:41:06

Oh, I really don't like the Kate B Emma because Mark Strong is so cross all the way through (and also because Kate B has a moustache in it which I just can't get past, even though I know it is shallow and wrong).

I love the way Charlotte Lucas is portrayed in the 2005 adaptation of P&P - the way it makes sense of her decision to marry Mr Collins is brilliant. That actress is always good. I also really like the way they showed the shock when Darcy touches Lizzie's hand without a glove. Brrrrrr.

tumbletumble Sun 30-Mar-14 16:24:44

"There were three thousand six hundred and fifty three days like that in his stretch. From the first clang of the rail to the last clang of the rail. The three extra days were for leap years."

"...Do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!... I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!"
Emily Bronte

OhGood Mon 31-Mar-14 18:43:16

"We can't stop here. This is bat country."
Hunter S Thompson

So brilliantly gonzo.

“And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days...”
Dylan Thomas.


eatyourveg Mon 31-Mar-14 19:19:32

"I measured love but the extent of my jealousy, and by that standard of course she could not love me at all." Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

"Non omnis moriar" (I shall never completely die) The Odes of Horace Book III.30

Takver Mon 31-Mar-14 21:31:55

My favourite has to be Bonario in Volpone jumping out and shouting

"Forbear, foul ravisher, libidinous swine! Free the forced lady, or thou diest, imposter!"

I've always wanted to have the chance to act it grin

For a more serious line, it has to be

"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burned the topless towers of Ilium
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss"

though there are endless lines of Dr Faustus that I love

NuggetofPurestGreen Mon 31-Mar-14 22:11:26

That reminds me of Shakespeare in Love Takver where everyone who comes to audition for Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter does that speech and poor Shakespeare is hmm

Brices Mon 31-Mar-14 22:54:31

"The black snake of wounded vanity had been gnawing at his heart all night" Dostoevsky Crime & Punishment

"We toasted Bacchus and the Muses, and drank a wine rich as unicorn's blood" Mitchell Cloud Atlas
(Drinking red wine been an altered experience ever since this read!)

KurriKurri Thu 03-Apr-14 23:17:51

'You may my glories and my states depose,
But not my griefs; still I am king of those' (from Richard II)

“I laid my face to the smooth face of the marble and howled my loss into the cold salt rain.”
(Sylvia Plath)

''I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.''


BustyDeLaGhetto Thu 03-Apr-14 23:32:24

"There's a dog loose in the wood" from Watership Down. It's one of Fiver's premonitions and is so ominous and foreboding...I love it.

Also 'The woods are lovely, dark and deep' by Robert Frost.


DumSpiroSpero Fri 04-Apr-14 00:32:28

And at home by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be -- and whenever I look up there will be you." from Far From the Madding Crowd.

I love that too, but having initially heard it as a romantic quote in the Vicar of Dibley, I pmsl at Bathsheba's reaction when I read the book.

"No I don't want to marry you...Well, what I mean is that I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband." grin

I have always loved "Sometimes I have the strangest feeling about you. Especially when you are near me as you are now. It feels as though I had a string tied here under my left rib where my heart is, tightly knotted to you in a similar fashion. And when you go to Ireland, with all that distance between us, I am afraid that this cord will be snapped, and I shall bleed inwardly."

...from Jane Eyre

Also "I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine...”
― Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

Clawdy Fri 04-Apr-14 16:21:44

"Hey,Boo," I said...... from To Kill A Mockingbird.

caroldecker Fri 04-Apr-14 17:47:02

But when a woman decides to sleep with a man, there is no wall she will not scale, no fortress she will not destroy, no moral consideration she will not ignore at its very root: there is no God worth worrying about - From Love in the time of cholera

AnneElliott Fri 04-Apr-14 19:04:20

It is a truth universally acknowledge that a single man of large fortune it's be in want of a wife. P&P Austen

The ending to the Tale of two cities. I think it goes "there is no greater love, than of laying down ones life for a friend".

BaconAndAvocado Fri 04-Apr-14 21:27:37

"The truth is a lemon meringue" Mr. Gum. Marvellous.

fuzzpig Fri 04-Apr-14 21:31:08

My favourite is one that makes me laugh, from LOTR:

"When she arrived later in the day, she took the point at once. But she also took the spoons."

RiverTam Fri 04-Apr-14 21:36:23

Dorothy L sayers has some good lines, quite long so can't remember exactly off the top of my head (plus I've been to the pub) but one, from Strong Poison, set in the early 1930s when people were still wearing corsets, goes something like:

'... said Mrs Featherstone, a woman who's violently compressed figure suggested she was engaged in a perpetual struggle to compute her weight in terms of the first syllables of her name rather than the last.'


and, of course, that best opening line ever, from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith:

'I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.'

WhatsTheWordHummingbird Fri 04-Apr-14 21:40:27

"It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live"


This totally hit a nerve with me and I feel has genuinely improved my outlook on life.

Dancingdreamer Fri 04-Apr-14 21:42:27

“Happiness is but a mere episode in the general drama of pain.”

― Thomas Hardy Mayor of Casterbridge

Sums up so much of life

nkf Fri 04-Apr-14 21:45:39

"I've danced at your skittish heels, my beautiful Bathsheba, for many a long mile, and many a long day; and it is hard to begrudge me this one visit." Far From The Madding Crowd.

Oh, how I longed to have the courage to call a daughter Bathsheba. And "skittish" is such a delightful word.

nkf Fri 04-Apr-14 21:46:21

"Her voice is full of money." The Great Gatsby.

LifeHuh Fri 04-Apr-14 21:49:21

I wish my favourite line was more "classic", but I didn't even have to think about it . "what can the harvest hope for but the care of the Reaper Man" (Terry Pratchett)
Goodness knows why,I find it comforting...
KurriKurri, I love that Hopkins poem.

LeBearPolar Fri 04-Apr-14 21:49:28

This line from The Remains of the Day is one of my all-time most loved:

“Indeed — why should I not admit it? — in that moment, my heart was breaking."

and this one from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead has long been a favourite:

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”

Practically everything in Gatsby but this one is haunting:

“So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.”

LeBearPolar Fri 04-Apr-14 21:55:03

I am just reading The Book Thief for the first time and it is full of gorgeous lines:

“The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both."

and this one is so frighteningly true:

“I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that's where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate.”

schoolclosed Fri 04-Apr-14 22:03:56

Ooh, Hopkins.

Oh the mind, mind has mountains. Cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no man fathomed
Hold them cheap may that ne'er hung there

fuzzpig Fri 04-Apr-14 22:05:06

LeBearPolar I'm finally reading The Book Thief too! Just started part two. Really enjoying it smile

HelpfulChap Fri 04-Apr-14 22:05:08

I love this line.

Its better to be unhappy and know the worst that be happy in a fools paradise.


I love Dostoyevksy - Crime and Pushiment is possibly my favourite book.

HelpfulChap Fri 04-Apr-14 22:06:17

THAN not that.

AnneElliott I think the friend quote is about Baloo, from The Jungle Book. But the end of A Tale Of Two Cities makes me cry too.

destructogirl Fri 04-Apr-14 22:07:37

"...to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."

milkwasabadchoice Fri 04-Apr-14 22:25:53

"We live as we dream - alone."
From The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

"Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow
The small raine down can raine.
Christ, if my love were in my armes
And I in my bedde again!"
Anon. Sixteenth century.

ithaka Sat 05-Apr-14 00:42:19

If we are doing poetry...

Who will go drive with Fergus now
And pierce the deep woods woven glade
And dance upon the level shore?

Whenever I am on a beach I dance upon the level shore with Yeats & his mystic king.

Molivan Mon 07-Apr-14 13:07:15

I just read The Poisonwood Bible and although I don't think it was a great line in literature, there's one sentence in that book that really summed up the despair and pointlessness the mother was feeling. She says "I knew Rome was burning, but I had enough water to scrub the floor, so I did what I could."
It really stopped me in my tracks. I love it when lines in books do that.

motherinferior Mon 07-Apr-14 13:11:49

Reader, I married him.

SkaterGrrrrl Tue 08-Apr-14 13:05:45

"If we are doing poetry..."

Most definitely, ithaka!

SkaterGrrrrl Tue 08-Apr-14 13:07:17

God I love The Poisonwood Bible...

“Carry us, marry us, ferry us, bury us: those are our four ways to exodus, for now. "

Welshwabbit Fri 11-Apr-14 22:16:04

Novels: "The evening paper rattle-snaked its way through the letterbox and there was suddenly a six o' clock feeling in the house." Muriel Spark. Perfection.

Poetry - I can never decide, but one of:

"...but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply..." (Edna St Vincent Millay)

Or Matthew Arnold - I always loved "the unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea" mentioned above, but also:

"But the majestic river floated on
out of the mist and hum of that low land
into the frosty starlight" (Sohrab and Rustum)

The last lines of S & R are beautiful too.


"And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight
where ignorant armies clash by night."
(Dover Beach)

Looking at these I think I might be a bit obsessed by water....

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Fri 11-Apr-14 22:25:26

"Let him come out of this a trifle high. But what kind of high? High, I think, like someone you love coming up on the porch, grinning, grinning, after three hard sets of tennis, victorious tennis, to ask you if you saw the last shot he made. Yes. Oui."

Salinger. Joy.

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Fri 11-Apr-14 22:38:31

Also love this bit of Hemingway from For Whom the Bell Tolls:

"Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it nor fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing in the wind on the side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshing with the grain flailed out and the chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a hill and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond."

Genius man. Not a word wasted.

SorrelForbes Fri 11-Apr-14 22:57:38

From Ballet Shoes:

Doctor Jakes came over to the shelves.
‘Literature is my subject.’
‘Is it? Is that what you’re a Doctor of?’
‘More or less. But apart from that, books are very ornamental things to have about.’
Pauline looked at the shelves. These books certainly were grand-looking – all smooth shiny covers, and lots of gold on them.
‘Ours aren’t very,’ she said frankly. ‘Yours are more all one size. We have things next to each other like Peter RabbitandJust So Stories, and they don’t match very well.’
‘No, but very good reading.’
Pauline came to the fire. It was a lovely fire; she stood looking at the logs on it.
‘Do you thinkPeter Rabbitgood reading? I would have thought a person who taught literature was too grand for it.’
‘Not a bit – very old friend of mine.’

Dozer Sun 13-Apr-14 22:32:59

‘Such, such were the joys When we all, girls and boys, In our youth-time were seen On the echoing green.’

Dozer Sun 13-Apr-14 22:37:58

Great epitaph mrsdavidbowie.

I'd like Dr Seuss:

Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!

fairnotfair Sun 13-Apr-14 22:58:52

The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.
The Picture of Dorian Gray

spex11 Tue 15-Apr-14 16:35:30

"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon." The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley.

LottyLikesWindows Mon 21-Apr-14 17:04:33

The entire text of 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock' by TS Eliot but this line : "To have squeezed the universe into a ball" is particularly evocative.

And of course from Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbevilles
"Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?"
"All like ours?"
"I don't know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound - a few blighted."
"Which do we live on - a splendid one or a blighted one?"
"A blighted one.

Welsh I salute your choices!

EBearhug Mon 21-Apr-14 17:14:17

"I never could get the hang of Thursdays." (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.)

I do also love "the great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo River", and I went through a phase of muttering "O my best beloved" to myself (I am not sure why.) It wasn't always muttering that others couldn't hear, though, and not everyone has read Kipling.

And if we are talking about literature, I am going to be utterly pretentious and say Catullus's "odi et amo."

aoife24 Tue 29-Apr-14 22:24:10

Not a line I'm afraid but a paragrpah from The Dead:

'Yes, the news­pa­pers were right: snow was gen­eral all over Ire­land. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, fur­ther west­wards, softly falling into the dark muti­nous Shan­non waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely church­yard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and head­stones, on the spears of the lit­tle gate, on the bar­ren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the uni­verse and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the liv­ing and the dead'.

gamescompendium Sun 04-May-14 22:49:09

Oscar Wilde in An Ideal Husband: I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.

PG Wodehouse (among many, I always read PG Wodehouse to cheer myself up): Contenting myself, accordingly, with a gesture of loving sympathy, I left the room. Whether she did or did not throw a handsomely bound volume of the Works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, at me, I am not in a position to say. I had seen it lying on the table beside her, and as I closed the door I remember receiving the impression that some blunt instrument had crashed against the woodwork, but I was feeling too pre-occupied to note and observe.

hollyisalovelyname Mon 05-May-14 11:23:53

Oscar Wilde 'We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars'
W.B.Yeats 'Tread softly because you tread on my dreams'
Brendan Kennelly ( Irish Poet) '.....and she is rich if she receives the merest hint of what she gave' - I dedicate that to my mum though she drives me insane at times smile
Scarlet O' Hara 'Tomorrow is another day'

hollyisalovelyname Mon 05-May-14 11:27:08

Austin Clarke ( another Irish poet)
' and oh, she was the Sunday in every week' from 'The Planter's Daughter' a wonderful poem.

hollyisalovelyname Mon 05-May-14 11:39:15

Aoife24 I agree with you. That paragraph from 'The Dead' has stayed with me. So evocative.

hollyisalovelyname Mon 05-May-14 20:25:42

Ah no. Don't let me kill this thread too!!!! hmm

HotSauceCommittee Mon 05-May-14 21:45:29

"Sex with you was like being eaten like a wolf", from AppleTree Yard. I want me some of that sex. It speaks to me of being passionately devoured. Engulfed.

Also, wouldn't say its a favourite, but it often pops into my head: "so foul and fair a day I have not seen", when Macbeth comes off the battlefield in victory tempered with having witnessed savagery and blood shed.

HotSauceCommittee Wed 07-May-14 10:14:30

FFS, did I kill the thread by putting something pervy on again?

Rommell Wed 07-May-14 10:23:23

And so as winter changes into spring, which changes into summer, there are things which go on forever unchanging. Such as the way a certain boy cares for a certain bear. And we will know, for as long as we care to remember that somewhere in that enchanted place on top the forest, a boy and his bear will always be playing.

I know it's only a children's book but I absolutely HOWLED when I read that to my son.

skinmysunshine Wed 07-May-14 10:55:36

Agree re. the Rebecca and Gatsby ones - all wonderful. Love the Gatsby line that Zelda is supposed to have actually said when Scotty was born "I hope she's a fool, a beautiful little fool."

There are too many to name in The Little Prince as well.

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels is a beautifully written book that has some amazing quotes for me:

"There's a moment when love makes you believe in death for the first time. You recognize the one whose loss, even contemplated, you'll carry forever, like a sleeping child. All grief, anyone's grief...is the weight of a sleeping child.�

�When my parents were liberated, four years before I was born, they found that the ordinary world outside the camp had been eradicated. There was no more simple meal, no thing was less than extraordinary: a fork, a mattress, a clean shirt, a book. Not to mention such things that can make one weep: an orange, meat and vegetables, hot water. There was no ordinariness to return to, no refuge from the blinding potency of things, an apple screaming its sweet juice.�

And from The Night Circus

�I would have written you, myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough.' 'But you built me dreams instead.�

Ellisisland Wed 07-May-14 13:11:16

Love that line from The Night Circus

Also several lines from Hitchikers I love including "I could never get the hang of Thursdays"

And these from Signature of all Things

"Take me someplace where we can be silent together"

"There is a level of grief so deep that it stops resembling grief at all. The pain becomes so severe that the body can no longer feel it. The grief cauterizes itself, scars over, prevents inflated feeling. Such numbness is a kind of mercy."

"I would like to spend the rest of my days in a place so silent–and working at a pace so slow–that I would be able to hear myself living."

Chopsypie Wed 07-May-14 18:37:29

Just found this lovely thread.
I've just read the 'his dark materials' trilogy, so these are very fresh in my mind

She wondered whether there would ever come an hour in her life when she didn't think of him -- didn't speak to him in her head, didn't relive every moment they'd been together, didn't long for his voice and his hands and his love. She had never dreamed of what it would feel like to love someone so much; of all the things that had astonished her in her adventures, that was what astonished her the most. She thought the tenderness it left in her heart was like a bruise that would never go away, but she would cherish it forever.


Then she was pressing her little
proud broken self against his face, as close as she could get, and then they died.

SkaterGrrrrl Tue 10-Jun-14 20:10:02

Returning to thread to sheepishly admit I started it to get inspiration from you well-read lovelies for my next tattoo.

But its just too hard to pick one. Might go for "Once upon a time" coming out of a feather.

SkaterGrrrrl Tue 10-Jun-14 20:10:11

Quill. Not feather.

mupperoon Mon 16-Jun-14 18:24:09

All of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock by T S Eliot. Heartbreaking yet slightly ridiculous, amazingly beautiful and unusual imagery. One of the few poems I re-read on a regular basis.

And Villette for a bit of soppiness: "Warm, jealous, and haughty, I knew not till now that my nature had such a mood: he gathered me near his heart. I was full of faults; he took them and me all home. For the moment of utmost mutiny, he reserved the one deep spell of peace. These words caressed my ear:— 'Lucy, take my love. One day share my life. Be my dearest, first on earth.'"

mupperoon Mon 16-Jun-14 18:28:02

Ah Chopsypie those Philip Pullman quotes (especially the Lee Scoresby/Hester death scene) have me tearing up - I'll be sobbing my way round Tesco!

whotheduckisalice Tue 17-Jun-14 20:01:40

'"I see". He did not at all see.'

That line from Sons and Lovers tickled me the other eve as I was at that point finding the whole book quite confusing.

Halfpint76 Thu 19-Jun-14 20:11:48

Remember this, as an awkward teenager, being the first piece of prose I found utterly poignant :

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Healthcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”
Wuthering heights

Agggghast Fri 20-Jun-14 14:44:40

He remembered waking once on such a night to the clatter of crabs in the pan where he'd left steakbones from the night before. Faint deep coals of driftwood fire pulsing in the onshore wind. Lying under such a myriad of stars. The sea's black horizon. He rose and walked out and stood barefoot in the sand and watched the pale surf appear all down the shore and roll and crash and darken again. When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.

Cormac McCarthy 'The Road'

Elsiequadrille Fri 20-Jun-14 14:54:13

Anything (ok, not wuite anything) from Wuthering Heights. Also, the last line from Villette or the Professor.

Elsiequadrille Fri 20-Jun-14 14:55:08


Will look up the quote shortly. Am not in good form today

Frenchfemme Fri 20-Jun-14 15:26:34

Why do you walk through the field in gloves, O fat white woman who nobody loves - Seen from a Train, not sure who by,but always gives me the shivers.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends is from the bible

I do like the opening line of the Go Between:

'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.'

This is the end of a Tale of Two Cities & it is a great line

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

Lucelulu Fri 20-Jun-14 15:46:51

On summer evenings I shall take the bridle-ways
Wheat pecking at my wrists...

Rimbaud, A Feeling
Takes me straight back to childhood

BaconAndAvocado Fri 20-Jun-14 21:14:58

This is such a wonderful, life-affirming thread smile

So, to inject a little silly surrealism:

The truth is a lemon meringue. Mr. Gum.

CheeseBored Fri 20-Jun-14 21:25:04

`you've killed a bear i hear' said Kitty, vainly trying to catch a recalcitrant, slippery mushroom with her fork and setting the lace quivering on her white arm.

SO erotic!

from Anna karanina

CheeseBored Fri 20-Jun-14 21:27:24

Perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.

from Brideshead Revisited

LOVE this thread

Wishyouwould Fri 20-Jun-14 21:44:39

Not a line but the opening quotes in The Thorn Birds

“There is a legend about a bird which sings only once in it's life, more beautifully than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves it's nest, it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, it impales it's breast on the longest, sharpest thorn. But as it is dying, it rises above it's own agony to outsing the Lark and the Nightingale. The Thornbird pays it's life for that one song, and the whole world stills to listen, and God in his heaven smiles, as it's best is brought only at the cost of great pain; Driven to the thorn with no knowledge of the dying to come. But when we press the thorn to our breast, we know, we understand.... and still, we do it." ~ Colleen McCullough”

I just love it. It brings a tear to my eye still.

mrsjavierbardem Fri 20-Jun-14 21:55:26

Two lines from To Kill A Mockingbird

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.”

“It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”

― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

mrsjavierbardem Fri 20-Jun-14 22:00:37

Louise Glück (1975)

Do not think I am not grateful for your small
kindness to me.
I like small kindnesses.
In fact I actually prefer them to the more
substantial kindness, that is always eying you
like a large animal on a rug,
until your whole life reduces
to nothing but waking up morning after morning
cramped, and the bright sun shining on its tusks.

From a novel, it's a bit long but...

They're trying to kill me," Yossarian told him calmly.
No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger cried.
Then why are they shooting at me?" Yossarian asked.
They're shooting at everyone," Clevinger answered. "They're trying to kill everyone."
And what difference does that make?

And from a poem either:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee


She's all states, and all princes, I;
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,

Both John Donne

LauraChant Fri 20-Jun-14 22:19:47

I love this thread! My contribution:

Benedick: "A miracle! Here's our own hands against our hearts. Come, I will have thee, but, by this light, I take thee for pity."

Beatrice: "I would not deny you, but by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption."

LauraChant Fri 20-Jun-14 22:31:37

I also like, from the Desiderata,: "With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. (or careful?) Strive to be happy."


"Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle. She died young." (The Duchess of Malfi).

Lucelulu Fri 20-Jun-14 22:35:55

Not a quote but the title of a short story
'A Clean Well Lighted Place'
Hemingway - brilliant and the title holds the whole story now for me

Lucelulu Fri 20-Jun-14 22:44:50

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and Desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain

T.S.Eliot The Wasteland
Always loved it

RockySpeed Fri 20-Jun-14 22:49:39

Though she be but little, she is fierce

TheScottishPlay Fri 20-Jun-14 23:11:03

'So it goes'. Slaughterhouse Five.

2rebecca Fri 20-Jun-14 23:31:00

Marge Piercy Braided Lives "Freedom is a daily necessity like water, and we love most loyally and longest those who allow us at least occasionally to vanish and wander the curious night"
I must read that book again, I first read it as a student and it's remained my favourite last paragraph of a book.

BringMeTea Mon 23-Jun-14 18:41:57

It was a queer sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenburgs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.
(opening line The Bell Jar)

BarbaraPalmer Mon 23-Jun-14 18:51:08

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

Poor Leo, poor Ted, poor Marion, poor all of them.

punygod Mon 23-Jun-14 19:23:11

“The drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G.K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin.”


“Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French.”

Both dear old Plum.

CheeseBored Mon 23-Jun-14 21:35:36

Feather footed through the Plashy fen passes the questing vole

Scoop grin

PuppyMonkey Mon 23-Jun-14 22:00:28

"I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth."

Last line of Wuthering Heights hard to beat IMHO

AuldAlliance Tue 24-Jun-14 21:57:49

Sunset Song has several (extended) lines that always get to me:

"Nothing endures but the land."

"So that was Chris and her reading and schooling, two Chrisses there were that fought for her heart and tormented her. You hated the land and the coarse speak of the folk and learning was brave and fine one day; and the next you'd waken with the peewits crying across the hills, deep and deep, crying in the heart of you and the smell of the earth in your face, almost you'd cry for that, the beauty of it and the sweetness of the Scottish land and skies."

"Sea and sky and folk who wrote and were learnéd, teaching and saying and praying, they lasted but as a breath, a mist of fog in the hills, but the land was forever, it moved and changed below you, but was forever, you were close to it and it to you, not a bleak remove it held you and hurted you. And she had thought to leave it all!"

7Days Wed 25-Jun-14 14:00:03

And all those boys of Europe born in those times, and thereabouts those times, Russian, French, Belgian, Serbian, Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, Italian, Prussian, German, Austrian, Turkish - and Canadian, Australian, American, Zulu, Gurkha, Cossack, and all the rest - their fate was written in a ferocious chapter of the book of life, certainly. Those millions of mothers and their millions of gallons of mothers' milk, millions of instances of small -talk and baby-talk, beatings and kisses, ganseys and shoes, piled up in history in great ruined heaps, with a loud and broken music, human stories told for nothing, for death's amusement, flung on the mighty scrapheap of souls, all those millions of boys in all their humours, to be milled on the millstones of a coming war.

A Long Long Way, Sebastian Barry

Stokey Thu 26-Jun-14 11:47:16

What a great thread - There's hardly a duff line in Gatsby. And Prufrock likewise "I have measured out my life in coffee spoons"

From the Bard when Henry V rejects Falstaff (in Henry IV pt 2)
"I know thee not old man, fall to thy prayers
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester.
I have long dreamed of such a kind of man
So surfeit-swelled, so old and so profane
But being awaked I do despise my dream"

And as for Yeats

"But one man loved the Pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the Sorrows of your changing face"

Trumpton Thu 26-Jun-14 12:05:33

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea cosy. "

From "I capture the castle" Dodie Smith who also wrote 101 Dalmations .

All the joys and angst of a teenager .


I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

From Invictus by William Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

It just resonates with me.

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