Beautiful quotes

The recent post about beautiful words made me think about this — words strung together in beautiful sentences.

Here’s the first one that sprang to mind for me:

“However entrancing it is to wander unchecked through a garden of bright images, are we not enticing your mind from another subject of almost equal importance?”

Which is a quote from Kai Lung’s Golden Hours by Ernest Bramah, but I encountered it in Dorothy Sayer’s Busman’s Honeymoon. I’ve remembered it ever since. Alas, I seldom have a chance to quote this in real life.

I never much liked Jack Vance as an author, but I always think of him when I think of authors who could put words together neatly. He certainly had a way with words, as here:

I categorically declare first my absolute innocence, second my lack of criminal intent, and third my effusive apologies.

and here

“Madouc, this is my advice: pick up yonder clod of dirt, and tender it to that pop-eyed little imp, speaking these words: ‘Zocco, with this token I both imburse and reimburse you, in full fee and total account, now and then, anon and for ever, in this world and all others, and in every other conceivable respect, for each and every service you have performed for me or in my behalf, real or imaginary, to the limits of time, in all directions.’”

That latter one is from the Lyonesse trilogy; I enjoy the precision of the language there. The former I just stumbled across while composing this post. It made me chuckle, so I included it, but I’m not sure where it’s from. There’s another one which would be fun to use in real life.

I’m sure I can find a few more … all right, here:

“Dave hung up. And unplugged the phone. With a fierce and bitter pain he stared at it, watching how, over and over again, it didn’t ring.”

That’s from Guy Gavriel Kay, the Fionavar trilogy. I think this is just a very effective handful of sentences. Among other things, we can see how very effective writing a series of short sentences can be. It’s a nice contrast to the very long lawyerly type of sentence above.

“If love makes you sad, you acquire a little depth, a little compassion. If it makes you happy, you learn how to be joyous. Every relationship should color your soul to a certain degree, don’t you think? Every friendship, every love affair – each one should build up the chambers of your heart the way a sea creature builds the chamber of his shell.”

That’s Sharon Shinn, Jovah’s Angel. There’s a word I like and don’t use often enough — joyous! I like the idea that you have to learn to be joyous! I think that’s true for a lot of people, though a few of us are born with a gift that way, of course. And of course that’s a nice metaphor. Sharon Shinn had another really good metaphor in that recent one of hers, The Shuddering City. Let me see. Yes, here it is:

 She hadn’t wanted Reese to leave, but she hadn’t wanted him to stay, either. Her head was full of thunderstorms and carrion crows, and she couldn’t hear her own thoughts over the din. She had eventually sent him away so she could curl up in the window seat and think, but it turned out she still couldn’t concentrate. So she just rested her cheek on her updrawn knees and listened to the wordless howling in her mind.

If you’ve recently (or not so recently) happened across a memorable sentence or two recently, please share them in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Beautiful quotes”

  1. One of the most delightful quotes I read recently was, believe it or not, from an article summarizing a video game about a goose that (harmlessly, hilariously) terrorizes a town. From the perspective of the goose, of course. (I’ve played the game, it’s very silly and fun.)

    “I am the horrible creeping bag of sound that is the most worst to you! I will use my beak to mischief you and I will press B. I wobble my snake-front-body and I waggle my bag-back-body and they meet in the middle to plan a bad idea to upset you. I flap back and forth my business rear for balancing and I snapple-pap my feet all up and down the town for terrible reasons, and you don’t like it. I am the goose and you are the miserable boy with no honk. I invented my body and it was the best idea.”

    “Snapple-pap” is a perfect onomatopoeia for excited goose feet, in my opinion.

    The whole thing is ridiculous in the best way:
    https://www.thechatner.com/p/i-am-the-horrible-goose-that-lives

  2. “The true secret in being a hero lies in knowing the order of things. The swineherd cannot already be wed to the princess when he embarks on his adventures, nor can the boy knock on the witch’s door when she is already away on vacation. The wicked uncle cannot be found out and foiled before he does something wicked. Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a very long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.”

    Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

  3. EFT’s Teen here.
    That second one reminds me of what is bizarrely cemented for me as “one of the best rallying speeches ever.” I thought it was a good speech when I read it. It was better when I heard it delivered.
    Typed from memory because it’s that sticky a speech:

    “Is this how you will honor your Prince then?

    Cautious I’ve thought you Basil, but never before a coward. We all have waited for the prince’s return. Now that he has returned you walk away. The form is different, true, but his spirit is here —here— and isn’t his spirit the truest part of him? Did it occur that maybe he chose this shape and symbol as the sign of his intentions?

    Aye, perhaps that soul, in hated delay, snared helpless in a jewel while his men hid and shirked their duties —his duty— perhaps that soul honed itself to this, and by no mistake comes to you now, in no more fine and final form as this. A sword.

    You say you cannot follow a sword? Well, I say you have strayed from your own too long! Why are you here but to fight? Your prince has shown you the manner of his purest mettle, aye, in metal itself! And this true, unerring razor’s message is clear beyond words, for now is not the time for words, but for brave hands, bright swords and blood!

    Aye boys, it’s about blood now, too long frozen in your veins, and you’d rather yourself be rigid than follow me. Well, if you won’t, then shamefully know that your prince will. For his blood be solid too, but strained to steel, and tempered in death. Arise alike as he, as swords as we are crowns the like as he! The prince is dead! Long live the prince!”

    Elaine T here, providing context to what I see got left up – the speaker and the crowd he’s addressing have been trying to find the last prince of the royal family of their land, who got hit by an assassin in the middle of a battle he was winning, (against the guy who is well on his way to conquering the continent) and disappeared. They’ve found what is left of him, which is his soul attached to a sword. I gather he can communicate sort of through it. But most of the people were about to walk away after finding him in that state. Hence this speech. It IS sticky.

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