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Quotations about Tangles & Knots


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Welcome to my page of quotations about tangled lines and strings of decorative lights, knots, and other such entanglements. —tg


For humanity, immortal only in misery and mockery, loves the very tangles in which it has enmeshed itself: with good reason, for they are the mark and sign of its being. ~Christopher Morley, "To a New Yorker a Hundred Years Hence," 1921


Keep cool and ravel out your Fishing Line;
Impatience multiplies each Knot by Nine.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Anglers," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924


I've learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy holiday, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. ~Anonymous 52-year-old, quoted in H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Live and Learn and Pass It On, 1991


Untangle and test the lights before dragging them up on the housetop. This is very important because no matter how carefully you stored the lights last Christmas, they will be snarled again this Christmas. Furthermore, half of them will not work two-thirds of the time. The edge of a roof is the wrong place to start wishing that you had never been born. ~Robert Kirby, "Up on the Roof Top," Family Home Screaming, 1999


The line of life is a snarl of loops and ends. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


So many problems, so many snags
To untangle every day...
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Our Mortal Foe," 1940s


So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter. ~Gordon W. Allport, "Mental Health: A Generic Attitude," 1964


Even when tied in a thousand knots, the string is still but one. ~Rumi


      There is something very strange and unaccountable about a tow-line. You roll it up with as much patience and care as you would take to fold up a new pair of trousers, and five minutes afterwards, when you pick it up, it is one ghastly, soul-revolting tangle.
      I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average tow-line, and stretched it out straight across the middle of a field, and then turned your back on it for thirty seconds, that, when you looked round again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in a heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tied itself into knots, and lost its two ends, and become all loops; and it would take you a good half-hour, sitting down there on the grass and swearing all the while, to disentangle it again.
      That is my opinion of tow-lines in general. Of course, there may be honourable exceptions; I do not say that there are not. There may be tow-lines that are a credit to their profession — conscientious, respectable tow-lines — tow-lines that do not imagine they are crochet-work, and try to knit themselves up into antimacassars the instant they are left to themselves. I say there may be such tow-lines; I sincerely hope there are. But I have not met with them. ~Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), 1889


When I was a kid, I believed my mom when she said that Christmas lights were designed to show Santa Claus where to land. After I got married, I believed my dad's shouts from the top of the house, "Lousy #@&*! lights!" ~Robert Kirby, "Up on the Roof Top," Family Home Screaming, 1999


Christmas lights. I bet if you took a vote, everyone would agree that the most frustrating tradition of the Christmas season is the lights. Blinking lights and twinkling lights, running lights, colored lights, white lights and recently, icicle lights. ~Liz Palagi, "Twinkle, Twinkle," Does God Hate Christmas?: A Devotional for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, 2015


Jessie sat on the top step of her porch wrestling with the tangled string of Christmas lights, one second away from throwing the damn thing in the snow. ~Janet Chapman, Highlander for the Holidays, 2011


To be always ready, a man must be able to cut a knot, for everything cannot be untied... ~Henri Frédéric Amiel, journal, 1851


To cut the Gordian knot is not the same as to untie it. Children and lunatics cut what the poet patiently spends his life in trying to untie. ~Jean Cocteau


In the pun, two strings of thought are tangled into one acoustic knot. ~Arthur Koestler


Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to weave. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963


He grasped a handful of tangled necklaces, their intricate links kinked together in a semiprecious knot... ~J.C. Nathans, Mother Outlaw, 2011



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