“The thing about God … is that He usually does help, but not until you’ve made an effort on your own.”—From The Summer Book (1972) by Tove Jansson, chapter “The Enormous Plastic Sausage,” (page 118 in NYRB edition, translated by Thomas Teal)
“[The web of marriage] is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language too; a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions, both physical and mental … It is woven in space and in time of the substance of life itself.”—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea (1955), Chapter5: Oyster Bed
“Instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone.”—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea (1955), chapter 3: Moon Shell
“The compensation of growing old … was simply this; that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained — at last! — the power which adds the supreme flavour to existence, — the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light.”—Peter Walsh’s thoughts, in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, page 79 (Harcourt 1981 edition)
“You can take anything. No matter how good you treat it — it wants to be free. You can treat it good and feed it good and give it everything it seems to want — but if you open the cage — it’s happy.”—Tom Robinson, former slave. Quoted in Julius Lester’s To Be a Slave (1968), page 138
“There is nothing magical in [physical books] at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they sticked the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”—Professor Faber to Guy Montag in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953), part 2, page 82.
“In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth — only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.”—C.S. Lewis, Book One of Mere Christianity (1952), Chapter 5 (page 32)
“We’re all hunting like everybody else for a way the diligent and sensible can rise to the top and the lazy and quarrelsome can sink to the bottom. But it ain’t easy to find. Meanwhile, we do all we can to help those that can’t help themselves and those that can we leave alone.”—Mr. Web in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town (1938), Act I
“Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.”—"The Ugly Duckling," by Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), quotes from 2007 Barnes and Noble Edition of The Complete Tales and Stories, page 219
“[Courage is] when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”—Atticus Finch, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), chapter 11
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”—Miss Maudie, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), chapter 10
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”—Atticus Finch to Scout, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), Chapter 3
“It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.”—Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, epigram to chapter 19 in The Tragedy of Puddn’head Wilson (1893)
“Vilifying those we love always detaches us from them a little. We should not touch our idols: their gilding will remain on our hands.”—Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1856), page 250 (Lydia Davis translation)
“Progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.”—C.S. Lewis, Book One of Mere Christianity (1952), Chapter 4 (page 28)
“I have been wholly in joy when I have been in pain — childbirth is the obvious example. Joy is what has made the pain bearable and, in the end, creative rather than destructive.”—Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet (1972), page 26
“[B]efore all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are–or, at all events, that I must try and become one. … I can no longer content myself with what most people say, or with what is found in books. I must think over things for myself and get to understand them.”—A Doll’s House (1889) by Henrik Ibsen, Act III
“[A] controlling power outside the universe could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe — no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that is just what we do find inside ourselves.”—C.S. Lewis, Book One of Mere Christianity (1952), Chapter 4 (page 25)
“It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.”—Anne Bronte, Agnes Grey (1847), Chapter 17
“Here the grass is still as green, the trees as full, the river as smooth as when I left; my books are open at the same pages, nothing is changed. Nature shames us, her serenity is a rebuke to our pride.”—Gustave Flaubert (author of Madame Bovary), in a letter to Louise Colet in 1845. Quoted in Flaubert and Madame Bovary by Francis Steemuller, page 66.
“If you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.”—Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 13 (page 169 in 1968 printing)
NOT like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor, that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
GROW old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in his hand Who saith, “A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
As you set out for Ithaka hope your road is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery. Laistrygonians, Cyclops, angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them: you’ll never find things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, as long as a rare excitement stirs your spirit and your body. Laistrygonians, Cyclops, wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them unless you bring them along inside your soul, unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; Bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
"God’s Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)