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great writing quotes

Excluding poetry and song lyrics, the following quotations are the best examples of beautiful writing Brain Candy collector has found from many sources.

Television is a triumph of equipment over people, and the minds that control it are so small that you could put them in a gnat's navel with room left over for two caraway seeds and an agent's heart.
- - - Fred Allen, CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter, 1977

Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.
- - - James Allen

But, O Sarah! if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; In the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.
- - - Major Sullivan Ballou, to his wife, a week before his death in 1861, during the Civil War

A cup of coffee - real coffee - home-browned, home-ground, home-made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a coffee is a match for twenty blue devils, and will exorcise them all.
- - - Henry Ward Beecher "Eyes and Ears"

On Broadway it was still bright afternoon and the gassy air was almost motionless under the leaden spokes of sunlight, and sawdust footprints lay about the doorways of butcher shops and fruit stores. And the great, great crowd, the inexhaustible current of millions of every race and kind pouring out, pressing round, of every age, of every genius, possessors of every human secret, antique and future, in every face the refinement of one particular motive or essence -- I labor, I spend, I strive, I design, I love, I cling, I uphold, I give way, I envy, I long, I scorn, I die, I hide, I want. Faster, much faster than any man could make the tally. The sidewalks were wider than any causeway; the street itself was immense, and it quaked and gleamed and it seemed ... to throb at the last limit of endurance.
- - - Saul Bellow "Seize the Day"

Son of man, keep not silent, forget not deeds of tyranny. Cry out at the disaster of a people, recount it unto your children and they unto theirs. From generation to generation the hordes swept in, ran wild and savage and there was no deliverance, valiance, and revolt. How the mighty are fallen, the great in spirit and stout of heart, walking to their death with a halo of eternity.
- - - Yehuda L. Bialer (reference to the Holocaust)

There is one kind of laugh that I always did recommend; it looks out of the eye first with a merry twinkle, then it creeps down on its hands and knees and plays around the mouth like a pretty moth around the blaze of a candle, then it steals over into the dimples of the cheeks and rides around in those whirlpools for a while, then it lights up the whole face like the mellow bloom on a damask rose, then it swims up on the air, with a peal as clear and as happy as a dinner-bell, then it goes back again on gold tiptoes like an angel out for an airing, and it lies down on its little bed of violets in the heart where it came from.
- - - Josh Billings

To see a hillside white with dogwood bloom is to know a particular ecstasy of beauty, but to walk the gray Winter woods and find the buds which will resurrect that beauty in another May is to partake of continuity.
- - - Hal Borland, New York Times, November 28, 1948

The true beloveds of this world are in their lover's eyes lilacs opening, ship lights, school bells, a landscape, remembered conversations, friends, a child's Sunday, lost voices, one's favorite suit, autumn and all seasons, memory, yes, it being the earth and water of existence, memory.
- - - Truman Capote "Other Voices, Other Rooms"

Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.
- - - Rachel Carson, "The Silent Spring," 1962

We were taken to a fast-food café where our order was fed into a computer. Our hamburger, made from the flesh of chemically impregnated cattle, had been broiled over counterfeit charcoal, placed between slices of artificially flavored cardboard and served to us by recycled juvenile delinquents.
- - - Jean Michel Chapereau, "Un Hiver Américain"

Turn pimp, flatterer, quack, lawyer, parson, be chaplain to an atheist, or stallion to an old woman, anything but a poet; for a poet is worse, more servile, timorous and fawning than any I have named.
- - - William Congreve

[In 1889] the last big tract of Indian land was declared open for settlement, in Oklahoma. The claimants and the speculators mounted their horses and lined up like trotters waiting for a starting gun. The itchy ones jumped the gun and were ever after known as Sooners -- and Oklahoma was thereafter called the Sooner State.
- - - Alistair Cooke, "America," 1973

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
- - - Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator, 1890

The hair was a Vaseline cathedral, the mouth a touchingly uncertain sneer of allure. One, two-wham! Like a berserk blender the lusty young pelvis whirred and the notorious git-tar slammed forward with a jolt that symbolically deflowered a generation of teenagers and knocked chips off 90 million older shoulders. Then out of the half-melted vanilla face a wild black baritone came bawling in orgasmic lurches. Whu-huh-huh-huh f'the money! Two f'the show! Three t'git riddy naa GO CAAT GO!
- - - Brad Darrach, on Elvis Presley, Life, Winter, 1977

When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl.
- - - James Matthew Barrie "Peter Pan"

They were ravished with its loveliness; a warm, soft-voiced spring-green landscape dotted with sassafras and scarlet-colored snakewood, smelling of wild strawberries and hart's tongue.
- - - Marshall Fishwick, "Virginia: A New Look at the Old Dominion," 1959

The human language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out a tune for a dancing bear, when we hope with our music to move the stars.
- - - Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Most marvelous and enviable is that fecundity of fancy which can adorn whatever it touches, which can invest naked fact and dry reasoning with unlooked for beauty, make flowers bloom even on the brow of the precipice.
- - - Margaret Fuller

I have a most peaceable disposition. My desires are for a modest hut, a thatched roof, but a good bed, good food, very fresh milk and butter, flowers in front of my window and a few pretty trees by my door. And should the good Lord wish to make me really happy, he will allow me the pleasure of seeing about six or seven of my enemies hanged upon those trees.
- - - Heinrich Heine

When the moon shall have faded out from the sky, and the sun shall shine at noonday a dull cherry red, and the seas shall be frozen over, and the icecap shall have crept downward to the equator from either pole . . . when all the cities shall have long been dead and crumbled into dust, and all life shall be on the last verge of extinction on this globe; then, on a bit of lichen, growing on the bald rocks beside the eternal snows of Panama, shall be seated a tiny insect, preening its antennae in the glow of the worn-out sun, the sole survivor of animal life on this our earth -- a melancholy bug.
- - - William Jacob Holland "The Moth Book" 1903

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought, and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.
- - - Oliver Wendell Holmes, opinion, Towne v. Eisner, January 7, 1918

Melting pot Harlem -- Harlem of honey and chocolate and caramel and rum and vinegar and lemon and lime and gall ... where the subway from the Bronx keeps right on downtown.
- - - Langston Hughes, Freedomways, Summer, 1963

To believe in a child is to believe in the future. Through their aspirations they will save the world. With their combined knowledge the turbulent seas of hate and injustice will be calmed. They will champion the causes of life's underdogs, forging a society without class discrimination. They will supply humanity with music and beauty as it has never known. They will endure. Towards these ends I pledge my life's work. I will supply the children with tools and knowledge to overcome the obstacles. I will pass on the wisdom of my years and temper it with patience. I shall impact in each child the desire to fulfill his or her dream. I shall teach.
- - - Henry James

Somewhere there was once a Flower, a Stone, a Crystal, a Queen, a King, a Palace, a Lover and his Beloved, and this was long ago, on an Island somewhere in the ocean 5,000 years ago ... Such is Love, the Mystic Flower of the Soul. This is the Center, the Self.
- - - Carl Jung

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.
- - - John F. Kennedy- Address, Amherst College, October 26, 1963

It is widely rumored, and also true, that I wrote my first novel in a closet. Before I get all rapturous and carried away here, I had better admit to that. The house was tiny; I was up late at night typing while another person slept, and there just wasn't any other place for me to go but that closet. The circumstances were extreme. And if I have to -- if the Furies should take my freedom or my sight -- I'll go back to writing in the dark. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, writers will go to stupefying lengths to get the infernal roar of words out of their skulls and onto paper.
- - - Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder

It was cold out there, bitter, biting, cutting, piercing, hyperborean, marmoreal cold, and there were all these Minnesotans running around outdoors, happy as lambs in the spring.
- - - Charles Kuralt, Dateline America, 1979

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than it be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
- - - Jack London, 1916

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.
- - - Norman Maclean

A political convention is after all not a meeting of a corporation's board of directors; it is a fiesta, a carnival, a pig-rooting, horse-snorting, band-playing, voice-screaming medieval get-together of greed, practical lust, compromised idealism, career-advancement, meeting, feud, vendetta, conciliation, of rabble-rousers, fist fights (as it used to be), embraces, drunks (again as it used to be) and collective rivers of animal sweat.
- - - Norman Mailer "Some Honorable Men: Political Conventions"

New York is one of the capitals of the world and Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic, San Francisco is a lady, Boston has become Urban Renewal, Philadelphia and Baltimore and Washington wink like dull diamonds in the smog of Eastern Megalopolis, and New Orleans is unremarkable past the French Quarter. Detroit is a one-trade town, Pittsburgh has lost its golden triangle, St. Louis has become the golden arch of the corporation, and nights in Kansas City close early. The oil depletion allowance makes Houston and Dallas naught but checkerboards for this sort of game. But Chicago is a great American city. Perhaps it is the last of the great American cities.
- - - Norman Mailer, "Miami and the Siege of Chicago," 1968

The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody's fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.
- - - Katherine Mansfield

There are some people who read too much: The bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as others are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing.
- - - H. L. Mencken

We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.
- - - James D. Nicoll

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
- - - Henri Nouwen "Out of Solitude"

Down it came, the blessed deluge. The music of rain splashing on tents and tin sheds drove men to an ecstasy of rejoicing. They turned out to cheer; lifted up their faces and opened their mouths to drink the bright drops; danced round, hallooing and shouting, getting drenched in the downpour.
- - - Katherine Susannah Prichard "The Roaring Nineties" (1946)

Hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown. Once you're brown, you'll find out you're blue. As blue as indigo. And you know what that means. Indigo. Indigoing. Indigone.
- - - Tom Robbins

Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.
- - - Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross, "On Death and Dying," 1969

In the dark colony of night, when I consider man's magnificent capacity for malice, madness, folly, envy, rage, and destructiveness, and I wonder whether we shall not end up as breakfast for newts and polyps, I seem to hear the muffled cries of all the words in all the books with covers closed.
- - - Leo Rosten

Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.
- - - Carl Sandburg "Poetry Considered"

When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that exalted, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.
- - - George Bernard Shaw "Getting Married" (1908)

But why wasn't I born, alas, in an age of Adjectives; why can one no longer write of silver-shedding Tears and moon-tailed Peacocks, of eloquent Death, of the Negro and star-enameled Night?
- - - Logan Pearsall Smith, "More Trivia: Adjectives", 1921

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men, and the love of small children; who has filled his niche, and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty , or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others, and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.
- - - Bessie Anderson Stanley (Prize-winning definition in a contest sponsored by Brown Book Magazine, Boston, 1904)

Courage is not limited to the battlefield or to the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are...the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody's looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you're misunderstood, like fighting for what is right even when you know you are going to lose.
- - - Charles R. Swindoll "Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life"

He looked like the love thoughts of women. He could be a bee to a blossom—a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps. Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took. Spices hung about him. He was a glance from God.
- - - Zora Neale Hurston "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

If we hadn't our bewitching autumn foliage, we should still have to credit the weather with one feature which compensates for all its bullying vagaries-the ice-storm: when a leafless tree is clothed with ice from the bottom to the top -- ice that is as bright and clear as crystal; when every bough and twig is strung with ice-beads, frozen dew-drops, and the whole tree sparkles cold and white, like the Shah of Persia's diamond plume. Then the wind waves the branches and the sun comes out and turns all those myriads of beads and drops to prisms that glow and burn and flash with all manner of colored fires, which change and change again with inconceivable rapidity from blue to red, from red to green, and green to gold-the tree becomes a spraying fountain, a very explosion of dazzling jewels; and it stands there the acme, the climax, the supremest possibility in art or nature, of bewildering, intoxicating, intolerable magnificence. One cannot make the words too strong.
- - - Mark Twain

This is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned in his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.
- - - Mark Twain "Autobiography," 1924

When you long with all your heart for someone to love you, a madness grows there that shakes all sense from the trees and the water and the earth. And nothing lives for you, except the long deep bitter want. And this is what everyone feels from birth to death.
- - - Denton Welch

I cannot just heave everything I know into the abyss. But I know it is coming. And when it comes, when I have made my sacrificial offerings to the gods of understanding, then the ruptures will cease. Healing waters will cover the land, giving birth to new life, burying forever the ancient, rusting machines of my past understandings. And on those waters I will set sail to places I now only imagine. There I will be blessed with new visions and new magic. I will feel once again like a creative contributor to this mysterious world. But for now, I wait. An act of faith. Land ho.
- - - Margaret Wheatly "A Simpler Way"

We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.
- - - Woodrow Wilson

A tearing wind last night. A flurry of red clouds, hard, a water colour mass of purple and black, soft as a water ice, then hard slices of intense green stone, blue stone and a ripple of crimson light.
- - - Virginia Woolf, in her diary, August 17, 1938


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