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Quotes That Make You Go Hmmm...



I really like things I don’t understand: when I read a thing I don’t understand I feel a sweet and abysmal vertigo. ~Clarice Lispector (1920–1977), A Breath of Life: Pulsations, written 1974–1977, published posthumously 1978, edited by Olga Borelli and Benjamin Moser, translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz, 2012  [Angela —tg]


Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions. ~Stephen Leacock, "Gertrude the Governess: or, Simple Seventeen," Nonsense Novels, 1911


The star shines on in its starry realm, nor ever stops to relate. It is I, I, this lowly firefly, with heart aflame with longing, that shall tell you the wondrous story of the star. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904


If only I could leave everything as it is, without moving a single star or a single cloud. Oh, if only I could! ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


But we are never prepared for what we expect... ~James A. Michener


But perhaps the universe is suspended on the tooth of some monster. ~Anton Chekhov (1860–1904), translated by Constance Garnett


In taking the old name for the new papers, he felt bound to say that he had uttered unwise things under that title, and if it shall appear that his unwisdom has not diminished by at least half while his years have doubled, he promises not to repeat the experiment if he should live to double them again and become his own grandfather. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Autocrat's Autobiography," 1858


I will pass through the furnace whose firebrands mark my soul. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904


You can owe nothing, if you give back its light to the sun. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


Who knows
the sound a wound makes?
~John Montague (b.1929), from "Sound of a Wound"


That don't seem to have much of a muchness to it... ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, Tammy Out of Time, 1958


Those who gave away their wings are sad not to see them fly. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


She throws her coin into a fountain already filled with hopeful coins, yet wonders if the wishes might become tangled. ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com


She is a perfect and beautiful plant,
I am the nebulous chaos of yore.
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "Two," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855


You are sad because they abandon you and you have not fallen. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


      I wandered one night out over the brink of eternity.... "Open and let me in," I cried. "'Tis a weary pilgrim, a lost soul.... The life-boat is for the storm-tossed ship, and so is the signal light in the harbor, and this — this is the wreck of a soul crying for the life-line!"
      The gates swung open. I awoke and went out again into the world of men, and all day I sang at my work. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904


Our reconstruction program, involving as it does the unascertainable principle that a depression is the indirect result of direct economic causes, cannot but succeed in seriously mitigating a situation which would otherwise prove ambidextrous to every left-handed right-thinking moron. ~E.E. Cummings, "And It Came to Pass," 1932


If we dance amongst the rooftops, is it not that much further to jig into the starshine? ~Terri Guillemets


My great day came and went, I do not know how. Because it did not pass through dawn when it came, nor through dusk when it went. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


Some Passages from a Journal That Was Never Kept  ~Sharpe's London Magazine, 1848


Nothing is not only nothing. It is also our prison. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats. ~Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, 1977


Remember to floss your brain after every meal, people. ~The Good Doctor, "Fault," 2020, written by P. Blake, M. Rozeman, A.S. Weissman, & S. Chanse  [S4, E5, Dr. Marcus Andrews, after removing a teratoma tumor with a tooth in it from a patient's brain]


Flowers weaved into your hair and stars trapped inside your mind. ~Harold, nighttimesuggestions.tumblr.com


If I answer the stranger at my gate while my own cry within, — perhaps my own is at the gate, and the strangers are within. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912


[Y]ears of quiet bliss
To me, fast-rooted on paternal land,
Mated, yet childless. He had journeyed far
Beyond the borders of my life...
~Bayard Taylor, "First Evening"


Ink smears, as thoughts sometimes do. ~Terri Guillemets


I am the universe's harlot,
Selling myself to ecstasy's thrills;
Giving myself to be debauched of stars, ravished of ineffableness;
Seduced by a wanton ungraspableness;
Coming to marriage bed with infinity's horde,
Wanton wife of the eternity of things.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Creation Songs: VIII," A Soul's Faring, 1921


I am the dreamer on the edge of his dream. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912


I am... the potency-thrill. I am the fructifier meeting the urge of space, scattering my spawn like the dust of stars in the Milky Way. I am... the yearning. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Creation Songs: VI," A Soul's Faring, 1921


Ask, mournful Muse, by one alone inspired:
What change? am I less fond, or thou less fair?
Or is it, that thy mounting soul is tired
Of duteous homage and religious care?
~William Johnson Cory (1823–1892), "Amavi"


It really makes me feel a little bit like a ghost revisiting the old time glimpses of the moon. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915


He who does not fill his world with phantoms remains alone. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


O age that half believ'st thou half believ'st,
Half doubt'st the substance of thine own half doubt,
And, half perceiving that thou half perceiv'st,
Stand'st at thy temple door, heart in, head out!
~Sidney Lanier, "Acknowledgment," 1876


Strickland had burst the bonds that hitherto had held him. He had found, not himself, as the phrase goes, but a new soul with unsuspected powers.... a spirituality, troubling and new, which led the imagination along unsuspected ways, and suggested dim empty spaces, lit only by the eternal stars, where the soul, all naked, adventured fearful to the discovery of new mysteries. ~W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, 1919


I would go to heaven, but I would take my hell; I would not go alone. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


...i breathe a reverie’d ether of beauty
i drown in fantasy too deep
i love on the edges of souls
i sleep on the shores of night...
~Terri Guillemets


The words we have for describing someone's appearance are limited to the obvious compass directions: happy, sad, mad, and afraid. It's hard to categorize the half expressions, the ones which reside in between. But this morning, I'm calling Perry mad by sadwest. ~Edmond Manning, King Perry , 2012


I do not incline my ear at the door of tombs — I listen at the roots of grasses.
I do not question dusty tomes — I ask the stars.
Parchment has no meaning to me — I ask my living, quivering breath.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "At the Roots of Grasses: I," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923


A naked lunch is natural to us,
we eat reality sandwiches
But allegories are so much lettuce.
Don't hide the madness.
~Allen Ginsberg, "On Burroughs' Work"


I do not utter littlenesses — I speak a skyline or an ant-hill.
I speak big things, that measure up to big trees and little grasses; great things, like God and daffodils; stupendous things, like ages and a moment.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "At the Roots of Grasses: XV," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923


They have stopped deceiving you, not loving you. And it seems to you that they have stopped loving you. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


It is known that there is an infinite number of worlds, but that not every one is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so if every planet in the Universe has a population of zero then the entire population of the Universe must also be zero, and any people you may actually meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination. ~Douglas Adams


I come with my rendered life.
I carry burdens: I lift mountains with a song.
I dig ditches — furrows to the moon and trenches to the Milky Way.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of the Strong: XXX" A Soul's Faring, 1921


He who holds me by a thread is not strong; the thread is strong. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


The stars can change in their courses, the universe go up in flames, and the world crash around us, but there'll always be Donald Duck. ~Noël Coward's Brief Encounter, 1945


...i hem my madness with sanity
i tick, i zig, i zag, and i tock
i ride wayward shooting stars...
~Terri Guillemets


I dipped my brush in venom — and to the discerning I but portrayed myself. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904


You think you are killing me. I think you are committing suicide. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


My heaviness comes from the heights. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
~Robert Frost


It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to. ~J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1951


I am the vessel. The draught is God's. And God is the thirsty one. ~Dag Hammarskjöld, 1953, translated from the Swedish by Leif Sjöberg and W. H. Auden, Markings, 1964


I spend the nights awake searching my soul and my days chasing dreams in the wind. ~Terri Guillemets


I am the cry of the nebula to become a star, the stream following its dream to the sea...
I am the moment of time calling to infinity.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of Longing: I," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923


Her stardust was a question mark,
and his an exclamation point —
together they had all the answers.
~Terri Guillemets, "Love story," 2008





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Original post date 1998 March 18th
Last saved 2021 Sep 11 Sat 18:51 PDT