Saturday, August 8, 2009


Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—’Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”

~John Steinbeck, East of Eden

.Michaelangelo, Creation of Adam, detail from the Sistine Chapel

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

~June Jordan, "Poem for South African Women" Passion: New Poems 1977-1980


Thursday, August 6, 2009

But I love you, sir;
And when a woman says she loves a man,
The man must hear her, though he love her not.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

J.W. Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott
Some friendships are made by nature, some by contact, some by interest, and some by souls.

~Jeremy Taylor, A Discourse of the Nature, Measures, and Offices of Friendship

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


"Once there was a princess who was very beautiful. She shone as bright as the stars on a moonless night. But what difference did it make that she was beautiful? None. No difference."

"Why did it make no difference?" asked Abilene.

"Because," said Pellegrina, "she was a princess who loved no one and cared nothing for love, even though there were many who loved her."

At this point in her story, Pellegrina stopped and looked right at Edward. She stared deep into his painted-on eyes, and again, Edward felt a shiver go through him. 

"And so," said Pellegrina, still staring at Edward.

"What happened to the princess?" asked Abilene.

"And so," said Pellegrina, turning back to Abilene, "the king, her father, said that the princess must marry; and soon after this, a prince came from a neighboring kingdom and he saw the princess and, immediately, he loved her. He gave her a ring of pure gold. He placed it on her finger. He said these words to her: 'I love you.' But do you know what the princess did?"

Abilene shook her head. 

"She swallowed the ring. She took it from her finger and swallowed it. She said, 'That is what I think of love.' And she ran from the prince. She left the castle and went deep into the woods. And so."

"And so what?" said Abilene. "What happened then?"

"And so, the princess became lost in the woods. She wandered for many day. Finally, she came to a little hut, and she knocked on the door. She said, 'Let me in; I am cold.'

"There was no answer.

She knocked again, 'Let me in; I am hungry,'

"A terrible voice answered her. The voice said, 'Enter if you must.'

"The beautiful princess entered, and she saw a witch sitting at the table counting pieces of gold.

"'Three thousand six hundred and twenty-two.' said the witch.

"'I am lost.' said the beautiful princess.

"'What of it?' said the witch. 'Three thousand six hundred and twenty-three.'

"'I am hungry,' said the princess.

"' Not my concern,' said the witch. 'Three thousand six hundred and twenty-four.'

"'But I am a beautiful princess.' said the princess.

"'Three thousand six hundred and twenty-five,' replied the witch. 

"'My father,' said the princess, 'is a powerful king. You must help me or there will be consequences.'

"'Consequences?' said the witch. She looked up from her gold. She stared at the princess. 'You dare to talk to me of consequences? Very well, then, we will speak of consequences: tell me the name of the one you love.'

"'Love!' said the princess. She stamped her foot. 'Why must everyone speak of love?'

"'Whom do you love?' said the witch. 'You must tell me the name.'

"'I love no one,' said the princess proudly.

"'You disappoint me,' said the witch. She raised her hand and said one word: 'Farthfigery.'

"And the beautiful princess was changed into a warthog.

"'What have you done to me?' squealed the princess.

"'Talk to me of consequences now, will you?' said the witch, and she went back to counting her pieces of gold. 'Three thousand six hundred and twenty-six,' said the witch as the warthog princess ran from the hut and out again into the forest.

"The kings' men were in the forest, too. And what were they looking for? A beautiful princess. And so when they came upon an ugly warthog, they shot it immediately. Pow!"

"No," said Abilene.

"Yes," said Pellegrina. "The men took the warthog back to the castle and the cook slit open its belly and inside it she found a ring of pure gold. There were many hungry people in the castle that night and all of them were waiting to be fed. So the cook put the ring on her finger and finished butchering the warthog. And the ring that the beautiful princess had swallowed shone on the cook's hand as she did her work. The end."

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter IV, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


Lost On Sunday

A few hours ago
I awakened to a nearly extinguished morning and,
scowling at the prospect of another day, left
my bed to its thoughts to prepare for the barrage
of happiness that would fill my evening.

The world was determined
to extract me from the melancholy afternoon,
strewing unexpected pleasantries in my path
that I, unable to transfer the joy from my mind
to my heart,
simply took as coincidences bereft of forethought.

I rested a few moments in a silent location,
debating the sun's warmth
and reasoning with a chilly wind, asking myself
genuine questions; when two swallows,
hopping across the path I had taken, looked my way,
pretended to acknowledge my hurt, paired
off and flew away.

-Calvin Olsen

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


The old doll said, "I wonder who will come for me this time. Someone will come. Someone always comes. Who will it be?"

"I don't care if anyone comes for me," said Edward.

"But that's dreadful," said the old doll. "There's no point in going on if you feel that way. No point at all. You must be filled with expectancy. You must be awash in hope. You must wonder who will love you, whom you will love next."

"I am done with being loved," Edward told her. "I'm done with loving. It's too painful."

"Pish," said the old doll. "Where is your courage?"

"Somewhere else, I guess," said Edward.

"You disappoint me," she said. "You disappoint me greatly. If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless. You might as well leap from this shelf right now and let yourself shatter into a million pieces. Get it over with. Get it all over with now."

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter XXVI, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


"I have no interest in being purchased," said Edward. 

The doll gasped. "You don't want somebody to buy you?" she said. "You don't want to be owned by a little girl who loves you?"

Sarah Ruth! Abilene! Their names went through Edward's head like the notes of a sad, sweet song. 

"I have already been loved," said Edward. "I have been loved by a girl named Abilene. I have been loved by a fisherman and his wife and a hobo and his dog. I have been loved by a boy who played the harmonica and by a girl who died. Don't talk to me about love," he said. 

"I have known love."

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter XXVI, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


Look at me, he said to her. His arms and legs jerked. Look at me. You got your wish. I have learned how to love. And it's a terrible thing. I'm broken. My heart is broken. Help me. 

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter XX, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


If thou could'st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, "This is not dead,"
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art replete with very thou
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes He says, "This is enow
unto itself--'twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me."

~Thomas Brown
in Madeleine L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light

God is over all things; under all things; outside all; within, but not enclosed; without, but not excluded; above but not raised up; below, but not depressed; wholly above, presiding; wholly without, embracing; wholly within, filling.

~Hildevert of Lavardin, 1125



Faber sniffed the book. "Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land? I loved to smell them when I was a boy."

~Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451



"Let him alone," said Merlin. "Perhaps he does not want to be friends with you until he knows what you are like. With owls, it is never easy-come and easy-go."

~T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone



Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafting through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way.

~Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows


Of Mice and Men

"My darling," she said at last, "are you sure you don't mind being a mouse for the rest of your life?"

"I don't mind at all," I said. "It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like so long as somebody loves you."

~Roald Dahl, The Witches

.via Google Images

"What do these children do without storybooks?" Naftali asked.

And Reb Zebulun replied: "They have to make do. Storybooks aren't bread. You can live without them."

"I couldn't live without them," Naftali said.

~Isaac Bashevis Singer, Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus



Never in his life had Edward been cradled like a baby. Abilene had not done it. Nor had Nellie. And most certainly Bull had not. It was a singular sensation to be held so gently and yet so fiercely, to be stared down at with so much love. Edward felt the whole of his china body flood with warmth.

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter XVII, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


Finally, the sun set and the birds flew away. Edward hung by his ears and looked up at the night sky. He saw the stars. But for the first time in his life, he looked at them and felt no comfort. Instead, he felt mocked.
You are down there alone, the stars seemed to say to him. And we are up here, in our constellations, together.
I have been loved, Edward told the stars. 
So? said the stars. What difference does that make when you are all alone now?
Edward could think of no answer to that question.

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter XV, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


Edward looked up at the stars. He started to say the names of the constellations, but then he stopped. 

"Bull," his heart said. "Lucy."

How many times, Edward wondered, would he have to leave without getting the chance to say goodbye?

A lone cricket started up a song.
Edward listened.
Something deep inside him ached.
He wished that he could cry.

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter XIV, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


Edward knew what it was like to say over and over again the names of those you had left behind. He knew what it was like to miss someone. And so he listened. And in his listening, his heart opened wide and then wider still.

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter XIV, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


"He drowned inside of himself," said Nellie. "it is a horrible, terrible thing, the worst thing, to watch somebody you love die right in front of you and not be able to do nothing about it. I dream about him most nights."

-Kate DiCamillo
Chapter IX, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Monday, August 3, 2009


Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh and trotted across to the Lion.

"Please," she said, "you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you, than fed by anyone else."

"Dearest daughter," said Aslan, planting a lion's kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, "I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours."

-C. S. Lewis
Chapter XIV, The Horse and His Boy


"Who are you?" he said, scarcely above a whisper.

"One who has waited long for you to speak," said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.

"Are you---are you a giant?" asked Shasta.

"You might call me a giant," said the Large Voice. "But I am not like the creatures you call giants."

"I can't see you at all," said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, "You're not---not something dead, are you? Oh please---please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!"

Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. "There," it said, "that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows."

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat. 

"I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice. 

"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.

"There was only one lion," said the Voice.

"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night, and---"

"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."

"How do you know?"

"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."

"Then it was you who wounded Aravis?"

"It was I."

"But what for?"

"Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own."

"Who are you?" asked Shasta.

"Myself," said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again "Myself," loud and clear and gay: and then the third time "Myself," whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it. 

Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too. 

The mist was turning from black to gray and from gray to white. This must have begun to happen some time ago, but while he had been talking to the Thing he had not been noticing anything else. Now, the whiteness around him became a shining whiteness; his eyes began to blink. Somewhere ahead he could hear birds singing. He knew the night was over at last. He could see the mane and ears and head of his horse quite easily now. A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun. 

He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.

Luckily Shasta had lived all his life too far south in Calormen to have heard the tales that were whispered in Tashbaan about a dreadful Narnian demon that appeared in the form of a lion. And of course he knew none of the true stories about Aslan, the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-the-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia. But after on glance at the Lion's face he slipped out of the saddle and fell at its feet. He could say anything but then he didn't want to say anything, and he knew he needn't say anything. 

The High King above all kings stooped toward him. Its mane, and some strange and solemn perfume that hung about the mane, was all round him. It touched his forehead with its tongue. He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory and gathered themselves up and disappeared. He was alone with the horse on a grassy hillside under a blue sky. And there were birds singing. 

-C. S. Lewis
Chapter XI, The Horse and His Boy

.credit here and here


"It's all very well for you," said Bree. "You haven't disgraced yourself. But I've lost everything."

"My good Horse," said the Hermit who had approached them unnoticed because his bare feet made so little noise on that sweet, dewy grass. "My good Horse, you've lost nothing but your self-conceit. No, no, cousin. don't put back your ears and shake your mane at me. If you are really so humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must learn to listen to sense. You're not quite the great Horse you had come to think, from living among poor dumb horses. Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you're nobody very special , you'll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another. And now, if you and my other four-footed cousin will come round to the kitchen door we'll see about the other half of that mash."

-C. S. Lewis
Chapter X, The Horse and His Boy


"I say!" said Aravis. "I have had luck."

"Daughter," said the Hermit. "I have now lived a hundred and nine winters in this world and have never yet met any such thing as Luck. There is something about all this that I do not understand: but if ever we need to know it, you may be sure that we shall."

-C. S. Lewis
Chapter X, The Horse and His Boy


Shasta's heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one. But all he said out loud was: 

"Where is the King?"

-C. S. Lewis 
Chapter X, The Horse and His Boy

Believe me. Sometimes when life looks to be at its grimmest, there's a light hidden at the heart of things.

~Clive Barker, Abarat



The mustard-pot got up and walked over to his plate on thin silver legs that waddled like the owl's...."Oh, I love the mustard pot!" cried the Wart. "Wherever did you get it?"

~T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone


My Father

The memory of my father is wrapped up in
White paper, like sandwiches taken for a day of work.
Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
Out of his hat, he drew love from his small body.

~Yehuda Amichai, "My Father," Isibongo

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any courser like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

~Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson



All I need is a sheet of paper
and something to write with, and then
I can turn the world upside down.

~Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Weiss und die Schwarze Kunst


The lofty bookshelves sag
Under thousands of sleeping souls
Silence, hopeful--
Every time I open a book, a soul is awakened.

~Xi Chuan, "Books," New Generations



Time is a horse that runs in the heart, a horse
Without a rider on a road at night.
The mind sits listening and hears it pass.

~Wallace Stevens, "The Pure Good of Theory"



Darkness always had its part to play. Without it, how would we know when we walked in the light? It's only when its ambitions become too grandiose that it must be opposed, disciplined, sometimes--if necessary--brought down for a time. Then it will rise again, as it must.

~Clive Barker, Abarat


I do not dare,
I do not dare write it,
if you die.

~Pablo Neruda, "The Dead Woman," The Captain's Verses



"You people with hearts," he once said, "have something to guide you, and need never do wrong; but I have no heart, and so I must be very careful."

~L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz


I woke up and knew he was gone. Straightaway I knew he was gone. When you love somebody you know these things.

~David Almond, Skellig


Thus sharply did the terrified three learn the difference between an island of make-believe and the same island come true.

~J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


"Don't ask where the rest of this book is!" It is a shrill cry that comes from an undefined spot among the shelves."All books continue into the beyond..."

~Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler


The idea hovered and shivered delicately, like a soap bubble, and she dared not even look at it directly, in case it burst. But she was familiar with the ways of ideas, and she let it shimmer, looking away, thinking about something else.

~Philip Pullman, Northern Lights

Was there only one world after all, which spent its time dreaming of others?
~Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife

"What is this?" said the Leopard, "that is so 'sclusively dark, and yet so full of little pieces of light?"
~Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories

He has been trying to sing
Love into existence again
And he has failed.
~Margaret Atwood
"Orpheus 2", Eating Fire


Deep in a tropical forest there once lived a funny looking little creature named Floptop. Actually, he wasn't called anything while he lived in his tropical forest. Hew was named Floptop later, when he left the forest and met humans. It's only people who give names to animals. It's people who told the elephant that he was an elephant, the giraffe that she was a giraffe, and the rabbits that they were rabbits. And so the little creature never gave a thought to what he was called, he just lived, and he lived in a faraway tropical forest. 

-Edward Upensky
-Chapter I, Crocodile Gene and his friends

The Door.

"Dalet (ד) is the door, דלת, (delet). Very few people know that they know about the Dalet. Even fewer open it, for they are afraid to go inside. "

-Lawrence Kushner
-The Book of Letters, a Mystical Alef-bait

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wizard Moon.

Egan stood uncertainly in the mist. The rain was easing off. There had been no sound from the Megrimum for many minutes now. A mumble of thunder complained from far away and then the clouds parted and the moon rode free. Instantly the mist was luminous, and Egan, with a gasp, felt as if he had suddenly been tucked inside a bubble. Looking up, he saw the moon as a shapeless radiance, like a candle seen through steamy glass. Each drop of moisture in the mist had become a tiny prism, filtering and fanning the dim light into a million pale rainbow of softest color. From a shrouded treetop nearby came the soft, clear notes of a bird's call and, with the faintest of rustles, a small red kneeknock bird floated through the mist ahead of him. Egan held his breath and stared at the magic world around him, a nighttime world bewitched into seeming morning by the wizard moon. 

-Natalie Babbit
-Kneeknock Rise

Here am I.

While everyone can say, "I am present", only a very few can say, הנני, "Here am I". For to answer הנני means that you no longer belong only to yourself. To answer הנני means that you gave the Hay, ה, of your being over to the One who calls. That is why Hay is the letter most often linked with G-d's name. 

-Lawrence Kushner
-The Book of Letters, a Mystical Alef-bait

.image here, it says 'Elohim' which is the plural form of God. Hay is the middle letter of the word.

The King and the Fool.

I visited a certain king
Who had a certain fool.

The king was gray with wisdom got
From forty years of school.

The fool was pink with nonsense
And could barely write his name

But he knew a lot of little songs
And sang them just the same.

The fool was gay. The king was not.
Now tell me if you can:

Which was perhaps the greater fool
And which, the wiser man?

-Natalie Babbitt
-Kneeknock Rise

How Many Miles To Babylon?

How many miles to Babylon?
Three-score and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?
Yes, there and back again.
If your heels are nimble and light,
You will get there by candle-light.

Elephants and Boa Constrictors

Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.

In the book it said: "Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion."

I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing Number One. It looked something like this:

I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.

But they answered: "Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?"

My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of a boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My Drawing Number Two looked like this:

The grown-ups' response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

So then I chose another profession, and learned to pilot airplanes. I have flown a little over all parts of the world; and it is true that geography has been very useful to me. At a glance I can distinguish China from Arizona. If one gets lost in the night, such knowledge is valuable.

In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn't much improved my opinion of them.

Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say:

"That is a hat."

Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Chapter I, Le Petit Prince