Alphabooks: Q is for Quote

Q: Quote From a Book That Inspires You / Gives You Feels

I think it would be fair to say that feels have been dealt with at least once or twice before, leaving me pondering what book quotation or quotations inspire me.  What words quicken me?

Paradoxically, perhaps, this triad of Anglo-Saxon lines (which I read in Bradley and Fulk, though both are just the presentation of an anonymous poet’s work):

Sare ic wæs mid sorgum gedrefed,   hnag ic hwæðre þam secgum to handa,   eaðmod elne mycle.
Sorely I was with sorrows afflicted,   but I bowed to the hands of the men,   submissive with great zeal.
– “The Dream of the Rood

Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg.
That was overcome; so might this be.
– “Deor

Wel bið þam þe him are seceð,   frofre to Fæder on heofonum,   þær us eal seo fæstnung stondeð.
Well it is for him who seeks mercy, comfort from the Father in heaven, where all our fastness (security) stands.
– “The Wanderer

These might not look like the stuff of great inspiration; it’s no St. Crispin’s Day speech, no Shakespearian exhortation unto the breach once more, much less a modern approach to exhortation a la Carnegie, Peale, Carlson, or Covey.

But together, these words exhort me to go and meet the daily slings and arrows. The Rood-Tree is an example of zealously submitting oneself to suffering and sorrow: an approach almost as paradoxical as the crucifixion itself, a victory that so resembled defeat. Deor indicates that whether life is full of delight or dejection, it will pass. And then the Wanderer takes that a step further: he recites all that he’s suffered (anxiety, loneliness, loss of his kin, loss of his lord and his lord’s protection) and ponders how everything – wealth, friends, kin, merriment – is lent to us, is passing, is transitory. The whole foundation of the earth shall stand empty but the one who seeks mercy (or grace, or peace, or honor) should find comfort in our heavenly Father. That is the one place of rest that endures.  And so I keep going, persevering until I reach it.

In Pursuit of the Obvious

In the course of writing last night’s post, I struggled to corral my thoughts so as to share them in an orderly fashion.  But these other quotations express a little bit more on the subject, so I wanted to share them too.


I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before. If there is an element of farce in what follows, the farce is at my own expense; for this book explains how I fancied I was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found I was the last. It recounts my elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious. No one can think my case more ludicrous than I think it myself; no reader can accuse me here of trying to make a fool of him: I am the fool of this story, and no rebel shall hurl me from my throne.  – GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than a minority of them – never become even conscious of them all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through? – CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

I have the most ill-regulated memory.  It does those things which it ought not to do and leaves undone the things it ought to have done.  But it has not yet gone on strike altogether.  – Lord Peter Wimsey, Gaudy Night

I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle.  – Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition