Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I'm not a quote collector, although I think I could be. I'm drawn to beautiful lines that take your breath away. Like a recent snippet I found in V.W.'s "To the Lighthouse:"

...when the girl spoke, as, after a flight through the sunshine the wings of a bird fold themselves quietly and the blue of its plumage changes from bright steel to soft purple.

One of my favorite teachers from grad school assigned once that we make a list of quotes we found relevant and helpful to our poetry practice. I love this type of assignment and, student or not, it would be a good exercise for anyone. Sifting through poems, favorite novels, essays, criticism and Buddhist thought, I found a few gems. Ones that hit me upon reading and I underlined them, maybe I carelessly dog-eared their page, but most likely they were forgotten later. It's been over a year since the assignment. Upon revisiting this list, I discovered many of the quotes I found related to fearlessness, or learning to face fear, or dipping towards the depths (Lorca's duende, Notley's descent) as a final pit stop before clarity, ownership, freedom.

I thought I would share some of these quotes today on my blog. Over time I've found a few more, so I included those too. Maybe they can be as useful to you, readers, as they've been to me. (and please feel free to send me some of your favorite quotes!)

“We” “who are nature” “when nothing else is,” “we are all/trapped below” “We can only go” “down” “farther down—“/”Down” “is now the only way” “to rise” “come & wait with us”/“wait with us” “to descend”

- Alice Notley from "The Descent of Alette"

It is not true that the more you love, the better you understand; all that the action of love obtains from me is merely this wisdom: that the other is not to be known...I am then seized with that exaltation of loving someone unknown, someone who will remain so forever: a mystic impulse: I know what I do not know.

- Roland Barthes from his book "A Lover's Discourse"

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again:

- Louise Glück from her poem The Wild Iris

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we'll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the prociousness of every single moment of our life.

- Pema Chödrön from her book "The Wisdom of No Escape"

The appearance of the duende always presupposes a radical change of all forms based on old structures. It gives a sensation of freshness wholly unknown, having the quality of a newly created rose, of miracle, and produces in the end an almost religious enthusiasm.

The duende, on the other hand, does not appear if it sees no possibility of death, if it does not know that it will haunt death’s house, if it is not certain that it can move those branches we all carry, which neither enjoy nor ever will enjoy any solace.

- Federico García Lorca from his essay on the Duende

I love you, I will never leave you, I will always take care of you.

- Elizabeth Gilbert from her book "Eat Pray Love"

and just for fun...

And I don't know how it gets better than this / You take my hand and drag me head first / Fearless / And I don't know why but with you I'd dance / In a storm in my best dress / Fearless

- Taylor Swift from her album "Fearless"

***photograph of Kate Winslet by Annie Leibovitz***


  1. beautiful photo siss. you could be a quote curator my tar. xox

  2. megan
    i love this post...beautiful!

    i left this comment on my california post for you but just in case ;-)

    megan -- yes i think king's canyon is pretty close to Sequoia National Forest...

    we only spent the day up there, but the giant forest and the Sherman Tree were completely and totally magical.

    I would highly recommend!

  3. Ah, nice.
    I watched Bright Star last night & thought of you (I recall you posting about that film). Gorgeous, gorgeous movie.