Living between waves and wineries
To continue the January theme of beginnings and firsts, I thought I’d include the first lines of American poems that I remember from high school and have inserted, on occasion, into conversations. It’s always amazing how many people either can add the next line or just stare at you with that “deer caught in headlights” look when you quote lines of poetry. I was exposed to such amazing literature . Of course, most of it was either British or American. I had to wait until university to discover world literature. Thank you teachers at Lyons Township High School for making me memorize so many poems. These words have become old friends.
in just spring when the world is mud-luscious
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me
I, too, sing America.
All I could see from where I stood was three long mountains and a wood
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Lift ev’ry voice and sing
James Weldon Johnson
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
We real cool.
Hog Butcher for the World
I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox
William Carlos Williams
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Dr. Martin Luther King jr, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, April 1963
I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land…Most of these people will never make the headlines and their names will not appear in Who’s Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvelous age in which we live — men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization — because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake. Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (Dec 1964)
We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and for justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.“Conscience and the Vietnam War” in The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)
I decided to begin lising favorite first lines and stop at 10. I seem to have as many favorites as I have songs on my MP3 player. Isn’t it nice to be able to carry a jukebox in your pocket?
All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.–Lao-Tzu
It’s the time of year when we think about beginnings. Today I received a picture of one of Baby Anderson’s first smiles. It was a glorious way to start the day. A new year and a new baby; it doesn’t get much better than that. For my next few posts, I plan to share some other “firsts” and “beginnings.”
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
– Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
It was a pleasure to burn.
– Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
I have just returned from a visit to my landlord–the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.
– Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights.
In a village of La Mancha the name of which have no desire to recall, there lived not so long ago one of those gentlemen who always have a lance in the rack, an ancient buckler, a skinny nag, and a greyhound for the chase.
– Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) Don Quixote
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
– Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.
– Joseph Heller, Catch-22
A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.
– A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.
– Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.
– Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book about the jungle called True Stories.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit