I’ve told you this before and I’ll probably tell you again: I’m a collector of words and sometimes I like to curate them too.

Here are a few pleasing turns of phrase – some inspiring, some bittersweet and some downright delicious – that have popped up in my reading radar over the past few months.

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“I am rooted, but I flow.” – Virginia Woolf, The Waves

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Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

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“On the run, I have turned the world into my pirate map, complete with clues, leading X-marks-the-spottily to the treasure of myself. When my pursuers have followed the trail they’ll find me waiting, uncomplaining, out of breath, ready. Here I stand. Couldn’t’ve done it differently.”

Salman Rushdie, The Moor’s Last Sigh

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“Most ordinary families can’t keep secrets; and in our far-from-ordinary clan, our deepest mysteries usualy ended up in oils-on-canvas, hanging on a gallery wall… but then again, perhaps the whole incident was invented, a fable the family made up to shock-but-not-too-much…”

Salman Rushdie, The Moor’s Last Sigh

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“… if we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful women are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed, then, eventually people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them. Women will get squatters. Clearly this is not a welcome state of affairs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wake up one morning and find a load of chancers in my lobby.”

Caitlin Moran, How To Be A Woman (comparing the common, everyday, seemingly silly criticisms and problems women face to the ‘Broken Windows’ philosophy)

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“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time – past and future – the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

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and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake…

so what did you want to do, love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that

– Warsan Shire, For Women Who are Difficult to Love

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I did think, let’s go about this slowly.
This is important. This should take
some really deep thought. We should take
small thoughtful steps.

But, bless us, we didn’t.

– Mary Oliver, I Did Think, Let’s Go About This Slowly

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Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

– Mary Oliver (again… just read every word of hers you can ever find)

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‘Atticus, he was real nice…’

‘Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.’

– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

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‘There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world, they’ve never learned to live in this one…’

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

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“Dink u nie mense is ook maar landskappe wat jy moet deurrys nie?… Ek is maar ‘n baie klein stukkie land ingedruk tussen berg en see.”

– Andre P. Brink, ‘n Oomblik in die Wind

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“Dis nie ‘n wrede land nie, net apaties. Hy neem van jou af wat oorbodig is: wa en osse, gids en staanplek en onderdak, aanspraak en hulp, man en kind, gewaande sekerheid, vooruitberekening, klere. Dat jy kan jyer word.”

– Andre P. Brink, ‘n Oomblik in die Wind 

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My vuil, my stank wil ek uit my hê.
Jaag dit nie weg nie: weg kom terug –
Neem dit in U op, Grond van my wese;
verwerk dit, versoet dit tot kraakvars lewe.
Aarde waarin alles wat boos is vergaan,
verpulwer my fyn, verander my grondig
tot stof waaruit ek opnuut kan kiem,
kan verrys met my beste in my behou,
eindelik myself, myself in U!

– Sheila Cussons

What are your favourite quotes? Please feel free to share them with me!

4 thoughts on “Quotes that caught my eye

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