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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.

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.

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