Advanced search

Lines in books that make your throat catch

(648 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

pongping Sun 25-Aug-13 08:50:52

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.

Morgause Sun 01-Sep-13 05:52:07

Wordsworth We are Seven

That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad: 10
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
--Her beauty made me glad.

"Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said
And wondering looked at me.

"And where are they? I pray you tell."
She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea. 20

"Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother."

"You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be."

Then did the little Maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we; 30
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree."

"You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five."

"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little Maid replied,
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side. 40

"My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

"And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

"The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay, 50
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

"So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

"And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side." 60

"How many are you, then," said I,
"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
"O Master! we are seven."

"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

Kirk1 Mon 02-Sep-13 09:01:01

The Akaroa Cannon

The line "Then I was their needed Mum, in the role I loved the best" is where my throat caught when I read that the first time. Interestingly, DH doesn't rate this one. Maybe you have to be a Mum to get it?

dubaipieeye Tue 10-Sep-13 17:49:52

I haven't read the whole thread but I wonder if anyone else has cited the end of the His Dark Materials trilogy where Lyra and Will talk about their molecules finding each other after their deaths. So lovely.

madkittens Tue 10-Sep-13 18:48:26

Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years

Adrian's just been to his Grandma's funeral

'I don't like to think of her lying under the earth, alone and cold. Still, at least she was never burgled or mugged. She is safe from all that now'

that very last sentence get me every time

Vickisuli Tue 10-Sep-13 22:35:15

From the book "No David", my son's favourite for ages... the line "Yes David, I love you"

One for every naughty boy who is loved nonetheless

stumpweasel Wed 11-Sep-13 13:54:25

MissMarplesBloomers got there first with the line from The Railway Children - "daddy... my daddy" - gets me everyone time on the page and on screen.

And yes, Monroe, totally on the money with The Subtle Knife.

Louis de Bernieres' Latin Trilogy (The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts, Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord, The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman) these books make me laugh and cry by turns. One moment in particular with the end of the old lady and her monkey - well I can't write it out as it still makes me cry.

LivingThings Wed 11-Sep-13 14:06:27

Another Louis de Bernieres - Birds without Wings

"If you know me at all you would know that I have missed you all of my life, and I still miss you now that I am an old man.............."

in an letter that will never be read by his childhood best friend who he was separated from by war/religion when a young man. Gets me every time

BogoPogo Thu 12-Sep-13 12:44:58

The bit in 'One Day' just before Emma dies:
"Then she thinks of Dexter, sheltering from the rain on the steps of the new house, looking at his watch, impatient; he'll wonder where I am, she thinks. He'll worry."

It just slays me that her last thought is to worry that she may be making him anxious. I even sobbed like an idiot when watching the film because that line from the book came back to me.

And just thinking about 'Shadows of the Workhouse' makes me bawl

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 13-Sep-13 09:52:19


Just to let you know, we've moved this to Mumsnet Classics now.


brainwashed Sat 14-Sep-13 18:59:39

There is a whole page in The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell that I really struggle to get through. It begins
'She knew though that she would not see him again. She would not be helping him cut up his dinner tonight...' It goes on to list lots of things that this mother will not be able to do for her little boy....I have usually completely lost it by the time she gets to 'She would not be able to wait for him at the gate' at the end of his first day at school

SockQueen Sat 14-Sep-13 20:01:13

Oh dear, just read all of this and I'm a mess! Several in here I would have already said, especially all the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows quotations.

The one I'd add is "Oh Captain! My Captain!" It's from a poem by Walt Whitman but it's the scene at the end of Dead Poets' Society that chokes me up every time.

Cezella Sun 15-Sep-13 00:22:03

It's Welsh but:-

"Chwe miliwn o goed yng Nghaersalem, f'eu planwyd hwy
yn goeden am bob corff a losgwyd yn y ffyrnau nwy."

Roughly translates as "six million trees in Caersalem- they were planted- a tree for every body burned in the gas chambers."

Doesn't have the same effect in English but it chills me every time

JustBecauseICan Sun 15-Sep-13 12:21:09

After marking my place way back in August I have just spent a few hours copying many of these into a doc to make a book of quotes for dd when she's older.

Thank you flowers

Ladyboluna Tue 17-Sep-13 00:08:39

From A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (author of the kite runner) -

And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at least. No. It was not so bad, Mariam thought, that she should die this way. Not so bad. This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings.

Mariams final thoughts were a few words from the Koran, which she muttered under her breath.
He has created the heavens and the earth with the truth; He makes the night cover the day and makes the day overtake the night, and He has made the sun and the moon subservient; each one runs on to an assigned term; now surely He is the Mighty, the Great Forgiver.

"Kneel," the Taliban said.
O my Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for you are the best of the merciful ones.
"kneel here, hamshira. And look down."
One last time, Mariam did as she was told.

Summer777 Tue 24-Sep-13 20:11:01

Just laughed at all the entries for the Railway Children, which I recently re-watched with my children 8 & 11. I couldn't speak without my voice breaking for the entire film in anticipation of the 'Daddy, my Daddy' line.
Most emotional book: the last chapter of One Day. Not the obvious shocker chapter (no wish to plot spoil if there's anyone left in the world yet to read it) but right at the end you when find out what really happened on their first date. Something to do with nostalgia for lost youth I think.
Also agree with Philip Pullman reference - best trilogy ever written & most poignant love story between Lyra & Will - heartbreaking.

Clawdy Wed 02-Oct-13 14:24:52

It's probably already been mentioned,but the very end of Tom's Midnight Garden, when Tom's parents collect him,and glance back to see him saying goodbye to Hattie and hugging her "as if she was a little girl.."

Astralabe Fri 18-Oct-13 13:14:40

Great thread! I bought Rebecca Goss' HER BIRTH recently. It's a collection of poems about the life and death of her 18 month old daughter and her subsequent decision to have another (they had another girl, Molly). The final lines of the collection, addressed to Molly, are:

Come and hold my hand, little one,
stand beside me in your small shoes,

let's head for your undiscovered life,
your mother's ready now, let's run.

The poem If by Rudyard Kipling, ways gets me going sad

manchestermummy Sat 02-Nov-13 16:41:17

Not a book, but a line froma Negro spiritual:

"I ain't got long to stay here."

The choir I sing with was rehearsing this (music by Tippett) on 9/11. We sang through this and then observed a silenc.
Most of us had been glued to the TV all day. A simple line but to me sums up the brevity of life we had all seen that day.

Dillytante Fri 17-Jan-14 14:24:09

Not sure anyone has mentioned Edith Wharton. Her prose is a delight, but this is one of my favourites from The Age of Innocence

"Each time you happen to me all over again."

TheFoosa Fri 17-Jan-14 16:07:48

Beth Gutcheon 'Still Missing'

'These long, even, empty days now, she rarely felt anger or fear or sadness. What she felt, with simplicity too profound to express, was a brimming love for him and no way to give it. There was a dim sense memory that haunted her nights, of flesh on flesh, the intense multiple impact of the smell of his skin, and the sight of his head pressed against her cheek so close that it's outline became the curve of the earth, and the angular feel of limbs, all knees and elbows - that give a pleasure too complex to recover or yet ever to give up, the deep unremarkable joy of hugging her child.'

FCEK Sat 18-Jan-14 21:55:00

I burst into tears at school when watching 'of mice and men'. When Lenny is made to look straight ahead and describe their bit of land and gets shot sad

funnyvalentine Sat 18-Jan-14 22:22:05

"Indeed - why should I not admit it? - at that moment, my heart was breaking" from Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Also the Little Match Girl, Matthew in Anne of Green Gables, and Beth in Little Women <sob>

Absolutelylost Sun 19-Jan-14 12:56:08

The Selfish Giant - Oscar Wilde

"Who art thou?" said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.
And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, "You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise."
And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.

HRHwheezing Sun 19-Jan-14 17:58:11

I read about called "the quick and the dead"
It's about what happened to the families after the Great War.
350,000 children were left without a father.

There is a lady in the book called Lilly baron and she describes the last time she ever sees her father, when she was five. Her father has no grave but knows that he was killed in bourlon wood.

She leaves a wreath that reads
"Thank you for the five years of real happiness-I've missed you all my life.
She was 98 when she wrote it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now