Archive for the 'Words' Category

Love letter fired from a cannon

November 22, 2014

Blake Walmsley, DIAGRAM 4.6.


Something unexpected

July 14, 2014

“Something quite unexpected has happened. It came this morning early. For various reasons, not in themselves at all mysterious, my heart was lighter than it had been for many weeks. For one thing, I suppose I am recovering physically from a good deal of mere exhaustion. And I’d had a very tiring but very healthy twelve hours the day before, and a sounder night’s sleep; and after ten days of low- hung grey skies and motionless warm dampness, the sun was shining and there was a light breeze. And suddenly at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best. Indeed it was something (almost) better than memory; an instantaneous, unanswerable impression. To say it was like a meeting would be going too far. Yet there was that in it which tempts one to use those words. It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier.”


C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, HarperCollins, 2009: 44-45.

July 23, 2012

“I think one thing to-day and another to-morrow. That is really all that’s the matter with me, except a crazy defiance and a lack of proportion.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night, Wordsworth Classics†, 1995: 107.


Oh, it may be worth noting that Wordsworth Classics, while dependably cheap and cheerful, also like to spot-check your sanity/whether you’ve been paying attention via the insertion of random numerical sequences:

“Along the walls on the village side all was dusty, the wriggling vines, the ters in his time. However, we shall see. Amelia,)d 64.18 431.85 m .02 0 63 272.74 (do you know what I\325ve been thinking> That mauve frock of my aunt)d 64.18 443.35 m .13 0 67 271.32 (Sarah\325s \320 now I believe I could make that up for myself for eveninto an area so green and cool that the leaves and petals were curled with tender damp.”

(As above, pp. 20-21.)

Though it’s perhaps worth un-noting the fact that I just spent the last twenty minutes trying to read some sort of coded message from this regardless.

Falling women

March 15, 2012

Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.

And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.

There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale: Anchor, 1998: 226.

February 11, 2012


“Eat, sleep. Sleep, eat. Exist slowly, gently, like these trees, like a puddle of water, like the red seat in the tram.”


Sartre, Nausea, London: Penguin, 2000: 223.

No apologies

February 2, 2012


               “Or you stand at the railing of the boat going up the Nile, a day’s journey from Luxor, and it’s sunset. You’re just looking. There are no words you are impelled to write down; you don’t make a sketch or take a photograph. You look, and sometimes your eyes feel tired, and you look again, and you feel saturated, and happy, and terribly anxious.

               There is a price to be paid for stubbornly continuing to make love with one’s eyes… For not letting go: of ruined grandeur, of the imperative of bliss. For continuing to work on behalf of, in praise of, beauty…

               Indeed, one might spend a lifetime apologising for having found so many ways of acceding to ecstasy.”


Susan Sontag, “About Hodgkin,” Where the Stress Falls, London: Penguin 2009: 159.

January 28, 2012

via sleeping tigers

The ash leaves lay across the road.

January 14, 2012

[October] 20th, Monday. …When we came home the fire was out. We ate our supper in the dark, and went to bed immediately. William was disturbed in the night by the rain coming in to his room, for it was a very rainy night. The ash leaves lay across the road.”

Dorothy Wordsworth, Home at Grasmere: Extracts from the Journal of Dorothy Wordsworth and from the Poems of William Wordsworth, ed. Colette Clark, London: Penguin, 1986: 83.

November 30, 2011

“‘Listen,’ he said, ‘I am only your superior in this: I am awake, whereas you are only half-awake, and at times your whole life is a dream.'”


Hermann Hesse, Narziss and Goldmund, trans. Geoffrey Dunlop, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1985: 45.

Provide always for a tempest, and other seventeenth-century advice

November 12, 2011

“[T]ake these few cautions—Know thyself. Be contented with thy lot. Trust not wealth, beauty, nor parasites: they will bring thee to destruction. Have peace with all men, war with vice. Be not idle. Look before you leap. Beware of “Had I wist.” Honour thy parents: speak well of friends. Be temperate in four things: lingua, loculis, oculis, et poculis. Watch thine eye. Moderate thine expences. Hear much: speak little. Sustine et abstine. If thou seest ought amiss in another, mend it in thyself. Keep thine own counsel; reveal not thy secrets; be silent in thine intentions. Give not ear to tale-tellers, bablers: be not scurrilous in conversation: jest without bitterness: give no man cause of offence. Set thine house in order. Take heed of suretyship. Fide et diffide: as a fox on the ice, take heed whom you trust. Live not beyond thy meanes. Give chearfully. Pay thy dues willingly. Be not a slave to thy mony. Omit not occasion; embrace opportunity; lose no time. Be humble to thy superiours, respective to thine equals, affable to all, but not familiar. Flatter no man. Lye not: dissemble not. Keep thy word and promise, be constant in a good resolution. Speak truth. Be not opinative: maintain no factions. Lay no wagers: make no comparisons. Finde no faults, meddle not with other mens matters. Admire not thyself. Be not proud or popular. Insult not. Fortunam reverenter habe. Feare not that which cannot be avoided. Grieve not for that which cannot be recalled. Undervalue not thyself. Accuse no man, commend no man, rashly. Go not to law without great cause. Strive not with a greater man. Cast not off an old friend. Take heed of a reconciled enemy. If thou come as a guest, stay not too long. Be not unthankful. Be meek, merciful, and patient. Do good to all. Be not fond of faire words. Be not a neuter in a faction. Moderate thy passions. Think no place without a witness. Admonish thy friend in secret; commend him in publick. Keep good company. Love others, to be beloved thy self. Ama, tanquam osurus. Amicus tardo fias. Provide for a tempest. Noli irritare crabrones. Do not prostitute thy soule for gain. Make not a fool of thy self, to make others merry. Marry not an old crony, or a fool, for mony. Be not over sollicitous or curious. Seek that which may be found. Seem not greater than thou art. Take thy pleasure soberly. Ocymum ne terito. Live merrily as thou canst. Take heed by other mens examples. Go as thou wouldst be met: sit as thou wouldst be found. Yeeld to the time; follow the stream. Wilt thou live free from feares and cares? Live innocently, keep thy self upright; thou needst no other keeper, &c. Look for more in Isocrates, Seneca. Plutarch, Epictetus, &c. and, for defect, consult with cheese-trenchers and painted cloths.”

Richard Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy [1621], London: Vernon & Hood, 1806: 82-83. Italics and spelling retained.