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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.

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.

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"

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

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!"

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

TheOneWithTheNicestSmile Mon 23-Jun-14 21:42:11

Scoop grin

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

Feather footed through the Plashy fen passes the questing vole

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.

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.

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)

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.

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

'So it goes'. Slaughterhouse Five.

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

Though she be but little, she is fierce

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

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

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).

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."

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Fri 20-Jun-14 22:07:06

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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