Anna Quindlen :
It must be terrible to bury someone you love in early May, when the ground is beginning to thaw and stretch and turn bright green and the smell of lilacs tumbles down from the bushes like a little benediction. Or in September, when the noon sun is still warm on your face but the evenings are cool enough for flannel and an extra blanket dragged up from the footboard in the middle of the night.
Or at Christmas. It must be terrible at Christmas.
February is a suitable month for dying. Everything around is dead, the trees black and frozen so that the appearance of green shoots two months hence seems preposterous, the ground hard and cold, the snow dirty, the winter hateful, hanging on too long.
[Anna Quindlen (b. 1952), U.S. journalist, columnist, author. One True Thing, p. 174, Random House (1994).]
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Henry David Thoreau :
Some men are judges, these August days, sitting on benches, even till the court rises; they sit judging there honorably, between the seasons and between meals, leading a civil, politic life, arbitrating ... it may be, from highest noon until the red vesper sinks into the west. The fisherman, meanwhile, stands in three feet of water, under the same summer's sun, arbitrating in other cases between muck-worm and shiner, amid the fragrance of water-lilies, mint, and pontederia, leading his life many rods from the dry land, within a pole's length of where the larger fishes swim. Human life is to him very much like a river.
[Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 21, Houghton Mifflin (1906).]
William Shakespeare :
They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow
They rightly do inherit heaven's graces
And husband nature's riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die;
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity:
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
[William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British poet. They that have power to hurt and will do none (l. 1-14). . .
The Unabridged William Shakespeare, William George Clark and William Aldis Wright, eds. (1989) Running Press.]
John Keats :
My passions are all asleep from my having slumbered till nearly eleven and weakened the animal fibre all over me to a delightful sensation about three degrees on this sight of faintnessif I had teeth of pearl and the breath of lilies I should call it langourbut as I am I must call it laziness. In this state of effeminacy the fibres of the brain are relaxed in common with the rest of the body, and to such a happy degree that pleasure has no show of enticement and pain no unbearable frown. Neither poetry, nor ambition, nor love have any alertness of countenance as they pass by me.
[John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. Letter, February 14-May 3, 1819, to his brother and sister-in-law, George and Georgiana Keats. Letters of John Keats, no. 123, ed. Frederick Page (1954).]
Giles Fletcher, The Elder :
In time the strong and stately turrets fall,
In time the rose and silver lilies die,
In time the monarchs captive are, and thrall,
In time the sea and rivers are made dry;
The hardest flint in time doth melt asunder;
Still living fame in time doth fade away;
The mountains proud we see in time come under;
And earth, for age, we see in time decay.
The sun in time forgets for to retire
From out the east where he was wont to rise;
The basest thoughts we see in time aspire,
And greedy minds in time do wealth despise.
Thus all, sweet Fair, in time must have an end,
Except thy beauty, virtues, and thy friend.
[Giles Fletcher, The Elder (c.1549-1611), British writer, diplomat. Licia (l. 14-15). . .
Oxford Book of Sixteenth Century Verse, The. E. K. Chambers, comp. (1932) Oxford University Press.]
Jackie Torrence :
Radio put technology into storytelling and made it sick. TV killed it. Then you were locked into somebody else's sighting of that story. You no longer had the benefit of making that picture for yourself, using your imagination. Storytelling brings back that humanness that we have lost with TV. You talk to children and they don't hear you. They are television addicts. Mamas bring them home from the hospital and drag them up in front of the set and the great stare-out begins.
[Jackie Torrence (b. 1944), African American storyteller. As quoted in I Dream a World, by Brian Lanker (1989).
Torrence was a professional storyteller specializing in "ghost stories, African- American tales, and Appalachian mountain lore."]
Jacques Roumain :
"Maman", said Annaïse, her voice strangely weak. "Here is the water."
A thin blade of silver came forward in the plain and the peasants ran alongside it, crying and singing.
"Oh, Manuel, Manuel, why are you dead?" moaned Délira.
"No", said Annaïse, and she smiled through her tears, "no, he is not dead".
She took the old woman's hand and pressed gently against her belly where new life stirred.
[Jacques Roumain (1907-1945), Haitian author, ethnologist, political activist. Repr. Éditions Messidor (1992). Masters of the Dew, p. 192, Les Éditeurs Français Réunis (1946).]
Alfred Tennyson :
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
[Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), British poet. The Lady of Shalott, pt. 3, st. 5 (1832, rev. 1842).
The Lady of Shalott defies the injunction not to gaze upon the world unless through a mirror, as Lancelot passes.]
Louis Aragon :
O months of blossoming, months of transfigurations,
May without cloud and June stabbed to the heart,
I shall not ever forget the lilacs or the roses
Nor those the spring has kept folded away apart.
[Louis Aragon (1897-1982), French poet. Les Lilas et les Roses (trans. by Louis MacNeice), Le Crève-Coeur (1940).]
Blake Edwards :
Bill: I think maybe you have to come up with excuses just to avoid the moment of truth.
Bill: In a word, Miss Smith, I think it's just possible you're a virgin.
[Blake Edwards (b. 1922), director, screenwriter, and William Peter Blatty (b. 1928), U.S. author. Bill (Rock Hudson), Lili (Julie Andrews), Darling Lili, in the shower after this exchange, she slaps him and they start kissing (1970).
This exchange makes sport of Andrews's pristine persona.]