Lines in books that make your throat catch(613 Posts)
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Just been re-reading When We Were Very Young, and the lines in the last poem, Vespers, bring a tear to my eye every time:
Hush, hush, whisper who dares,
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers
I'm not sure why - I think it's the beauty of the innocence, the image of a lost world (the book is all nurses and stockings)?
In fact, just the title of the collection gives me a shiver.
This thread has destroyed me!
Good old Norman Maccaig in Visiting Hour
he hospital smell
combs my nostrils
as they go bobbing along
green and yellow corridors.
What seems a corpse
is trundled into a lift and vanishes
I will not feel, I will not
I have to.
Nurses walk lightly, swiftly,
here and up and down and there,
their slender waists miraculously
carrying their burden
of so much pain, so
many deaths, their eyes
still clear after
so many farewells.
Ward 7. She lies
in a white cave of forgetfulness.
A withered hand
trembles on its stalk. Eyes move
behind eyelids too heavy
to raise. Into an arm wasted
of colour a glass fang is fixed,
not guzzling but giving.
And between her and me
distance shrinks till there is none left
but the distance of pain that neither she nor I
She smiles a little at this
black figure in her white cave
who clumsily rises
in the round swimming waves of a bell
and dizzily goes off, growing fainter,
not smaller, leaving behind only
books that will not be read
and fruitless fruits.
when Lyra left Pantalaimon on the shores of the Land of the Dead. I was almost furious in my sadness and didn't want to read the rest if the book.
'Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'.' From To Kill a Mockingbird.
I have to steal myself for that line every time and I teach the book to teenagers!
This poem by Michael Longely. Beautifully sad.
My father, let no similes eclipse
Where crosses like some forest simplified
Sink roots into my mind; the slow sands
Of your history delay till through your eyes
I read you like a book. Before you died,
Re-enlisting with all the broken soldiers
You bent beneath your rucksack, near collapse,
In anecdote rehearsed and summarised
These words I write in memory. Let yours
And other heartbreaks play into my hands.
Now I see close-up, in my mind’s eye,
The cracked and splintered dead for pity’s sake
Each dismal evening predecease the sun,
You, looking death and nightmare in the face
With your kilt, harmonica and gun,
Grow older in a flash, but none the wiser
(Who, following the wrong queue at The Palace,
Have joined the London Scottish by mistake),
Your nineteen years uncertain if and why
Belgium put the kibosh on the Kaiser.
Between the corpses and the soup canteens
You swooned away, watching your future spill.
But, as it was, your proper funeral urn
Had mercifully smashed to smithereens,
To shrapnel shards that sliced your testicle.
That instant I, your most unlikely son,
In No Man’s Land was surely left for dead,
Blotted out from your far horizon.
As your voice now is locked inside my head,
I yet was held secure, waiting my turn.
Finally, that lousy war was over.
Stranded in France and in need of proof
You hunted down experimental lovers,
Persuading chorus girls and countesses:
This, father, the last confidence you spoke.
In my twentieth year your old wounds woke
As cancer. Lodging under the same roof
Death was a visitor who hung about,
Strewing the house with pills and bandages,
Till he chose to put your spirit out.
Though they overslept the sequence of events
Which ended with the ambulance outside,
You lingering in the hall, your bowels on fire,
Tears in your eyes, and all your medals spent,
I summon girls who packed at last and went
Underground with you. Their souls again on hire,
Now those lost wives as recreated brides
Take shape before me, materialise.
On the verge of light and happy legend
They lift their skirts like blinds across your eyes.
The last page of Watership Down also breaks me.
And also - in our local park there are memorial benches. And on one it just says:
'Lily's seat' love Mummy 2003
It's so simple. And so heartbreaking.
The Poisonwoid Bible:
Having had three girls, this made me cry:
A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after--oh, that' s love by a different name.
'As Beth had hoped, the `tide went out easily', and in the dark hour before dawn, on the bosom where she had drawn her first breath, she quietly drew her last, with no farewell but one loving look, one little sigh.' From Good Wives Loiusa M Alcott
Never fails to make me cry.
Speaking of emotional reactions to Winnie The Pooh- when the trailer came out for the recent film I burst into tears in front of the TV. I actually found the whole film very emotional, in a nostalgic way.
Rocks and storms I’ll fear no more,
When on that eternal shore;
Drop the anchor!
Furl the sail!
I am safe within the vale!
A verse from a hymn found on my great-grandfather's gravestone when I finally tracked down who he was and what happened. He was a fishing skipper lost at sea during WW1 when his trawler had been requisitioned as a minesweeper. When I found the gravestone I realised it also commemorated his son who was lost at sea the previous year at the age of 16, but his body had never been recovered.
Read a bit more and seen that there are some Wilde fans posting - if you don't know it, and I didn't at all, look up 'The Young King'. It isn't necessarily throat-catching but it's more than troubling, and amazing to think that it was written so far in advance of this day and age when its power has not diminished.
Patrick Gale's 'Notes from an Exhibition'.
The scene is a gathering at a Quaker funeral of a famous artist. A stranger has turned up with a tiny, impressionistic painting that was done just for her some years before, when the artist and she were in psychiatric care, and she passes it round.
A daughter in law of the deceased eventually speaks in the silent circle:
"Garfield and I have been trying to have a child for some time now"..."And I've been wondering whether one of the reasons it's taking us so long is fear that a child of ours might have the same mental health challenges as its grandmother. But - this sounds awful probably - but if a child of ours did have those challenges but could produce a painting like that, we'd have nothing to fear. We'd be blessed."
The Little Irish Mother by John O'brian......not a book but a beautiful poem,there's a recital by John Scott Trotter on YouTube that gets me every time. I always think of my own lovely Irish mum. The last verse goes...
When at last the books are balanced in the settling up to be
and our idols on the rubbish heap are hurled.
Then the judge shall call to honour- not the 'stars' it seems to me.
But the King shall doff his purple, and the queen lay by her crown.
and the great ones of the earth shall stand aside.
while a little Irish mother in her tattered faded gown
shall receive the crown too long to her denied.
I can't find the book to quote from right now, but the bit in Richard Hammonds autobiography where his wife describes his childrens reaction to seeing him for the first time after his accident, and how his elder daughter held it together until the lift doors shut.
Every single page of 'The Dancing Tiger'. DS (now 10) loved it when he was tiny and it's such a beautifully written, warm book with wonderful illustrations. I've never been able to get to the end of it without a catch in my throat, even more so now as it reminds me of lying in bed with my little boy reading it. I'm actually having a wee tear just now thinking about it.
I love so many of these. But something that hasn't been mentioned yet, that devastates me every time I read it, from The Little Prince:
My life is very monotonous. I run after the chickens; the men run after me. All the chickens are the same, and all the men are the same. Consequently, I get a little bored. but if you tame me, my days will be as if filled with sunlight. I shall know a sound of footstep different from all the rest. Other steps make me run to earth. Yours will call me out of my foxhole like music. And besides, look over there! You see the fields of corn ? Well, I don't eat bread. Corn is of no use for me. Corn fields remind me of nothing. Which is sad! On the other hand, your hair is the colour of gold. So think how wonderful it will be when you have tamed me. The corn, which is golden, will remind me you. And I shall come to love the sound of the wind in the field of corn...."
And the follow-on from that that I live by utterly:
'People have forgotten this truth,' said the fox. 'But you must not forget. You become responsible, for ever, for what you have tamed.
The Kite Runner: "for you, a thousand times over". Not when Hassan says it near the beginning, but at the end when Amir repeats it to Sohrab.
Harry Potter 7, when Harry is burying Dobby and carves on the stone "Here lies Dobby, a free elf."
And Harry Potter 6, when Harry says to Dumbledore something like "Don't worry, it's going to be all right" and Dumbeldore says "I am not worried Harry - I am with you."
Resurrecting this thread after doing a search for The Paper Dolls to see if anyone else had been ambushed by it. I took it out of the library thinking it was a bit of rhyming fun like 'Jack and the Flumflum Tree' and promptly burst into tears halfway through. Poor DD (2.5) was very concerned and offered to get her Daddy to give me a cuddle.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes used to make me cry as well, I see someone else has mentioned this so at least I'm not the only one.
Tich died when she was twelve. <howl>
And there was a book I read as a kid, can't remember for the life of me what it was called or who it was by, but it's about a girl and her family being taken to a concentration camp. At the end they herd the girls and women all naked into a chamber, tell them they're going to have a shower, and she puts up her face ready to feel the water on it, and that's where the book ends. Aaaaaaa I can't bear it.
Some parts of the Dead School by Patrick McCabe, especially the parts about Malachy and Marion's relationship breaking down.
"Everything was OK now as they sat watching the ducks. The bad times were over at last. They sat there as happy as they had ever been looking at the old ducks swimming away. 'They love their bread,' said an old woman in a rain hood as she chucked half a loaf onto the water. 'They go mad without their bread.'
'They do,' said Marion as she blushed a bit then laughed.
'They do,' said Malachy.
'I never seen anything like ducks for bread,' said the woman.
Part of him wanted to cry out, 'Please, Marion!'
The late afternoon sky was the colour of lead."
"Tonight she was watching Coronation Street and he was sitting beside her but he was no more interested in Coronation Street than the man in the moon. (...) A few times he stroked her hair without thinking and she said 'Oh, please - I can't concentrate!'
He knew what she meant. It can be irritating trying to watch something when someone is distracting you. So he went into the kitchen and sat down in the armchair to read for a while, but suddenly he wanted to go back into the sitting room and ask Marion if she still loved him. He was on the verge of it but then he said to himself no -don't! When she came in he was just standing there staring into space. (...) 'Is there any pickle left?' she asked. 'I really fancy a sandwich.'
She hummed to herself as she opened the fridge door and it was just then that he wanted to hold her and say, 'Please help me, Marion, I think there's something wrong' but all he said was 'Yes, Marion, there is.' Meaning the pickle, of course.
But it didn't matter because when he looked again she was gone.
and cakes I have always loved that poem, too.
DD2 picked out Floss from the bucket of books at toddlers the other day.
I sobbed my way to the end, then I sobbed again while recounting the earlier sobbing to DH! The picture by the dedication in the front, of a shepherd's crook and a dog lead started me off!! I always think tales of old farmers and their dogs/animals get to me. (Think "That'll do, Pig") <sniff>
DD1 finds Tabby McTat heartbreaking - mainly when they give away the kittens to their new homes!
Both reminded me of this thread.
I've just cried at work AGAIN reading this. Some lovely things here.
Oh and the bit at the end of the Hunger Games trilogy
'"You love me, real or not real?" and I say, "real"'
I read that over and over! Sob
This thread is wonderful! So many of my favourites reads mentioned! I've not been able to read it all, so apologies if this has already been mentioned, but this is my favourite poem, by Yeats
HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
Chokes me every time!
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