Miles Coverdale (manos74) wrote,
Miles Coverdale

Ten Great Passages

This is a meme from embossedsilver.

What you do is list ten of your favorite passages from literature. You must include novels, plays, and poems in this list.

1. Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander

'I have had such a sickening of men in masses, and of causes, that I would not cross this room to reform parliament or prevent the union or to bring about the millennium. I speak only for myself, mind--it is my own truth alone--but man as part of a movement or a crowd is indifferent to me. He is inhuman. And I have nothing to do with nations, or nationalism. The only feelings I have--for what they are--are for men as individuals; my loyalties, such as they may be, are to private persons alone.'
'Patriotism will not do?'
'My dear creature, I have done with all debate. But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.'

2. Don Marquis, the robin and the worm
well well boss there is
something to be said
for the lyric and imperial
believe that everything is for
you until you discover
that you are for it
sing your faith in what you
get to eat right up to the
minute you are eaten
for you are going
to be eaten
will the orchestra please
strike up that old
tutankhamen jazz while i dance
a few steps i learnt from an
egyptian scarab and some day i
will narrate to you the most
merry light headed wheeze
that the skull of yorick put
across in answer to the
melancholy of the dane and also
what the ghost of
hamlet s father replied to the skull
not forgetting the worm that
wriggled across one of the picks
the grave diggers had left behind
for the worm listened and winked
as horatio while the skull and the
ghost and the prince talked
saying there are more things
twixt the vermiform appendix
and nirvana than are dreamt of
in thy philosophy horatio
fol de riddle fol de rol
must every parrot be a poll

3. Stephen Sondheim, Assassins
You want what everybody wants. To be appreciated. To be valued. To be in other people's thoughts. For them to think of you and smile. You want someone to love you, Lee. Right?...Isn't that it?...Lee?


Forget it.


It's never gonna happen. It's a fantasy. You've got to give it up.

I'm going to kill myself! Don't you think I've given up?!

No, I think you're going to kill yourself because you think that's how to get it. "When I'm dead, then they'll be sorry! When I'm dead, they'll know how much they loved me!" When you close your eyes you probably see the funeral, don't you, Lee? A gentle rain is falling. Everybody has umbrellas --

Shut up!

There's Marina, weeping quietly. Your sobbing children clutching at her skirt. Your mom, your dad. Every boss who ever fired you --

Shut the fuck up!!

Sorry, Lee. It's just so childish. It's so dumb --

You think it's dumb?! If I shouldn't kill myself what should I do?! Go home?! Beg her to take me back?! Plead with her?! Beat her up?!

You tried all that. It doesn't work.

I know it doesn't work! So tell me what I should do!

You should kill the President of the United States.

4. W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming
The blood-dimmed tied is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

5. Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels
Armistead stopped, looked. Pettigrew's men were coming up on the left: not many, not enough. Here he had a few hundred. To the right Kemper's brigade had broken, but some of the men still fired. Armistead paused for one long second. It's impossible now, cannot be done; we have failed and it's all done, all those boys are dead, it's all done, and then he began to move forward automatically, instinctively, raising the black hat on the sword again, beginning to scream, "Virginians! With me! With me!" and he moved forward the last yards toward the wall, drawn by the pluck of that great force from within, for home, for country, and now the ground went by slowly, inexorably, like a great slow river, and the moment went by back and slow, close to the wall, closer, walking now on the backs of dead men, troops around beginning to move, yelling at last the wild Rebel yell, and the blue troops began to break from the fence. Armistead came up to the stone wall, and the blue boys were falling back. He felt a moment of incredible joy. A hot slap of air brushed his face, but he was not hit; to the right a grat blast of canister and all the troops to his right were down, but then there was another rush, and Armistead leaped to the top of the wall, balanced high on the stones, seeing the blue troops running up the slope into the guns, and then he came down on the other side, had done it, had gotten inside the wall, and men moved in around him, screaming. And then he was hit, finally, in the side, doubling him. No pain at all, merely a nuisance. He moved toward a cannon the boys had just taken. Some flue troops had stopped near the trees above and were kneeling and firing; he saw the rifles aimed at him. Too weary now. He had made it all this way; this way was enough. He put an arm on the cannon to steady himself. But now there was a rush from the right. Blue troops were closing in. Armistead's vision blurred; the world turned soft and still. He saw again: a bloody tangle, men fighting hand to hand. An officer was riding toward him; there was a violent blow. He saw the sky, swirling round and round, thank God no pain. A sense of vast release, of great peace. I came all the way up, I came over the wall...
He sat against something. The fight went on. He looked down at his chest, saw the blood. Tried to breathe, experimentally, but now he could feel the end coming, now for the first time he sensed the sliding toward the dark, a weakening, a closing, all things ending now slowly and steadily and peacefully. He closed his eyes, opened them. A voice said "I was riding toward you, sir, trying to knock you down. You didn't have a chance."
He looked up: a Union officer. I am not captured, I am dying. He tried to see: help me, help me. He was lifted slightly.
Everywhere the dead. All his boys. Blue soldiers stood around him. Down the hill he could see the gray boys moving back, a few flags fluttering. He closed his eyes on the sight, sank down in the dark, ready for death, knew it was coming, but it did not come. Not quite yet. Death comes at its own speed. He looked into the blue sky, at the shattered trees. It may be for years, it may be forever... The officer was speaking. Armistead said, "Is General Hancock... would like to see General Hancock."
A man said, "I'm sorry, sir. General Hancock has been hit."
"No," Armistead said. He closed his eyes. Not both of us. Not all of us. Sent to Mira Hancock, to be opened in the event of my death. But not both of us, please dear God...
He opened his eyes. Closer now. The long slow fall begins.
"Will you tell General Hancock...Can you hear me, son?"
"I can hear you, sir."
"Will you tell General Hancock, please, that General Armistead sends his regrets. Will you tell very sorry I am..."
The energy failed. He felt himself flicker. But it was a long slow falling, very quiet, very peaceful, rather still, but always the motion, the darkness closing in, and so he fell out of the slight and away, far away, and was gone.

6. T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail
along the floor--
And this, and so much more?--
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
'That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.'

7. e.e. cummings, i sing of Olaf glad and big
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds, without getting annoyed,
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

8. William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
They pulled two seats together so Darl could sit by the window to laugh. One of them sat beside him, the other sat on the seat facing him, riding backward. One of them had to ride backward because the state's money has a face to each backside and a backside to each face, and they are riding on the state's money which is incest. A nickel has a woman on one side and a buffalon on the other; two faces and no back. I dont know what that is. Darl had a little spy-glass he got in France at the war. In it it had a woman and a pig with two backs and no face. I know what that is. "Is that why you are laughing, Darl?"
"Yes yes yes yes yes yes."
The wagon stands on the square, hitched, the mules motionless, the reins wrapped about the seat-spring, the back of the wagon toward the courthouse. It looks no different from a hundred other wagons there; Jewel standing beside it and looking up the street like any other man in town that day, yet tehre is something different, distinctive. There is about it that unmistakeable air of definite and imminent departure that trains have, perhaps due to the fact that Dewey Dell and Vardaman on the seat and Cash on a pallet in the wagon bed are eating bananas from a paper bag. "Is that why you are laughing, Darl?"
Darl is our brother, our brother Darl. Our brother Darl in a cage in Jackson where, his grimed hands lying light in the quiet interstices, looking out he foams.
"Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes."

9. Mark Twain, Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses
I may be mistaken, but it does seem to me that Deerslayer is not a work of art in any sense; it does seem to me that it is destitute of every detail that goes to the making of a work of art; in truth, it seems to me that Deerslayer is just simply a literary delerium tremens.
A work of art? It has no invention; it has no order, system, sequence, or result; it has no lifelikeness, no thrill, no stir, no seeming of reality; its characters are confusedly drawn, and by their acts and words they prove that they are not the sort of people the author claims that they are; its humor is pathetic; its pathos is funny; its conversations are--oh! indescribable; its love-scenes odious; its English a crime against the language.
Counting these out, what is left is Art. I think we must all admit that.

10. William Shakespeare, Henry V
But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.

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