Jim Stover quotes

Jim Stover’s Baylor Web


Quotes for the week

February 16

“. . .that odor in his clothes and beard and flesh too which I believed was the smell of powder and glory, the elected victorious but know better now: know now to have been only the will to endure, a sardonic and even humorous declining of self-delusion which is not even kin to that optimism which believes that that which is about to happen to us can possibly be the worst which we can suffer.”

William Faulkner, The Unvanquished

February 17

“‘I won’t apologize; fools cry out at wind or fire. But permit me to say and hope that you will never have anything worse than this to remember us by.'”

William Faulkner, The Unvanquished
(the Yankee colonel to Granny in “Ambuscade”)

February 18

“Decisions are all.”

Ian McEwan, Saturday

February 19

“. . . in ambitious middle life it sometimes seems there is only work.”

Ian McEwan, Saturday

February 20

“They believed that land did not belong to people but that people belonged to land and that the earth would permit them to live on and out of it and use it only so long as they behaved and that if they did not behave right it would shake them off just like a dog getting rid of fleas.”

William Faulkner, The Unvanquished (about Uncle Buck and Uncle Buddy)

February 21

“There is a limit to what a child can accept, assimilate; not to what it can believe because a child can believe anything, given time, but to what it can accept, a limit in time, in the very time which nourishes the believing of the incredible.”

William Faulkner, The Unvanquished

February 22

“Let us live in the land of the whispering trees,
Alder and aspen and poplar and birch,
Singing our prayers in a pale, sea-green breeze,
With star-flower rosaries and moss banks for church.”

Elizabeth Bishop, from “For C. W. B.”

Course materials

One purpose of this website is to make available course materials that students can access at any time. Most of these are for the benefit of my own students: assignment sheets, essay rubrics and grading grids, AP materials, and the like.

If any teachers stumble across this site, they are more than welcome to borrow from any of the materials here. There are times when teaching seems like a solitary pursuit; although surrounded by students, teachers can feel cut off from colleagues by the multitude of demands on their time. One of the best ways to connect with colleagues is by sharing ideas and materials. Most of my best teaching ideas have come from my colleagues; if any other teachers could benefit from any of the information posted here, I would be pleased indeed.

Student work

One of the major purposes of this website is to celebrate good student work by publishing it and making it available to a wider audience. It is a shame that more often than not, only one person (the teacher) or a handful of people (the teacher and other students in the class) have the opportunity to read works that are the result of insight, patient effort, and a developing sense of the craft of writing.

I have long been a fan of publishing student work. In my classroom are stored dozens of photocopied booklets of good writing assembled by my students. More recently, we have made class CD-ROMs that contain some of the best of student work in digital form (including multimedia projects). Inevitably, the audience for such projects is limited. One of my hopes is that student work published on the Internet may receive a wider audience.
Another reason to post student work is to provide models of good writing, and in particular, to provide examples of effective responses to particular assignments that future students may find valuable. Needless to say, any students reading the works posted here should use them as models and give credit for any ideas, let alone any words, that they find helpful.


I’m fascinated by the ways in which teachers can use technology to teach more effectively. Some of those ways are so obvious we already take them for granted. Word-processing has made the process of writing (writing, revising, and revising again) a reality. Email has taken the walls off the classroom, enabling us to communicate with students, and they with us, whenever we’re sitting at a computer. The Internet has enabled everyone to find answers with a handful of clicks–and teachers to create web pages that make course information readily available. Other activities (like color-coded analyses) enable students to see more clearly how writers achieve their effects, and multimedia projects invite extraordinary student creativity.

In working with computers, teachers often become the learners and students the teachers, for many students are more adept with the machines than we. It is a challenge for teachers to keep up. In an effort to educate myself and my students, I’ve created some handouts that may be helpful, especially when students first encounter a particular kind of software.


Years ago when Baylor was an all-boys school, one of the school’s veteran teachers would always reply, when someone asked him what subject he taught, “I teach boys.” It is easy to be caught up in trying to teach our subjects, but of course what we are really teaching is young men and women. The faces in these photographs remind me of that point.

A Writing Text

For nearly twenty years I have been working on an English textbook for ninth grade students. Originally titled Writing and Grammar, the book has undergone any number of revisions and a few full-scale transformations. Now titled A Writing Text, the odd-numbered chapters (along with chapter 12) focus on writing, while the even-numbered chapters focus on correct grammar, mechanics, and usage. Dozens of my colleagues and hundreds of Baylor students have helped make this text possible, and I am grateful indeed.

For comments or suggestions, please e-mail Jim Stover.
Jim Stover’s Baylor profile.

March 1

“Whence all this passion toward conformity anyway?–diversity is the word. Let man keep his many parts and you’ll have no tyrant states. Why, if they follow this conformity business they’ll end up by forcing me, an invisible man, to become white, which is not a color but the lack of one. Must I strive toward colorlessness? But seriously, and without snobbery, think of what the world would lose if that should happen. America is woven of many strands; I would recognize them and let it so remain. . . . Our fate is to become one, and yet many–”

Ralph Ellison (born March 1, 1914), Invisible Man

March 2

You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) (born on March 2, 1904)

March 3

“How life is strange and changeful, and the crystal is in the steel at the point of fracture, and the crystal is in the steel at the point of fracture, and the toad bears a jewel in its forehead, and the meaning of moments passes like the breeze that scarcely ruffles the leaf of the willow.”

Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

March 4

“Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?”

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

March 5

“. . . the world is like an enormous spider web and if you touch it, however lightly, at any point, the vibration ripples to the remotest perimeter and the drowsy spider feels the tingle and is drowsy no more but springs out to fling the gossamer coils about you who have touched the web and then inject the black, numbing poison under your hide. It does not matter whether or not you meant to brush the web of things. Your happy foot or your gay wing may have brushed it ever so lightly, but what happens always happens and there is the spider, bearded black and with his great faceted eyes glittering like mirrors in the sun, or like God’s eye, and the fangs dripping.”

Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

March 6

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (born March 6, 1806)

March 7

“Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it. He died
As one that had been studied in his death,
To throw away the dearest thing he owed
As ’twere a careless trifle”

Shakespeare, Macbeth (Malcolm to Duncan about the Thane of Cawdor)

March 8

“The rule of joy and the law of duty seem to me all one.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (born March 8, 1841)

March 9

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

March 10

“The wonder of love is nothing’s lost but what is not

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I send you word that I am happy; life is rich; I sing.”

Charlotte Barr (Baylor School’s poet in residence), “Solitaire”

March 11

“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.”

“There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing.”

Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (Broadway debut March 11, 1959)

March 12

“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Thomas Jefferson

March 13

“More needs she the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all.”

William Shakespeare

(After witnessing Lady Macbeth’s tormented sleepwalking, the doctor says these lines to the gentlewoman–one of my favorite moments of generosity and grace.)

March 14

“I shall never believe that God plays dice with the world.”

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”

“If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”

Albert Einstein (born March 14, 1879)

March 15

“Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

(Caesar to Antony; Caesar, of course, was correct–and was assassinated on March 15, 44 BCE.)

March 16

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

Robert Kennedy

(On March 16, 1968, Robert Kennedy announced that he was a candidate for President.)

March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)

“You that would judge me do not judge alone
This book or that, come to this hallowed place
Where my friends’ portraits hang and look thereon;
Ireland’s history in their lineaments trace;
Think where man’s glory most begins and ends
And say my glory was I had such friends.”

William Butler Yeats

(One of the greatest English-language poets of the 20th century; Yeats received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.)

March 18

You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”
George Bernard Shaw

“Some men see things as they are and ask ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?'”

Robert F. Kennedy, 1968

(Although many people know Robert Kennedy’s version of this quotation, it is clearly Shaw’s.)

March 19

“You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

William Jennings Bryan

(born March 19, 1860)

Bryan is one of Nebraska’s most famous and most honored citizens; I was born in Lincoln at Bryan Memorial Hospital.

“To separate [black children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. . . . We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Earl Warren (born March 19, 1991),

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka — one of the landmark Supreme Court cases of the 20th century.

March 20

“Live the journey.”

Bill Irwin, the first blind person to hike the Appalachian Trail, in a speech to the Baylor upper school student body, making the point that it is the destination rather than the arrival that makes the trip (or your years in high school) memorable.

March 21

“I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels–until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.”

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

March 22

“I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.”

Billy Collins (born March 22, 1941),
Poet Laureate of the U.S., “Introduction to Poetry”

March 23

“Tis now the twenty-third of march,
And this warm sun takes out the starch
Of winter’s pinafore — Methinks
The Very pasture gladly drinks
A health to spring, and while it sips
It faintly smacks a myriad lips.”

Henry David Thoreau: “The Freshet”

(I’ve borrowed this quote of the day from A Common Reader’s Calendar.)

March 24

“. . . and soon now we shall go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and the awful responsibility of Time.”

Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men (the final words)

March 25

“At length she got down and turned off the faucet and made her slow way on the darkening path to the house. In the woods around her the invisible cricket choruses had struck up, but what she heard were the voices of the souls climbing upward into the starry field and shouting hallelujah.”

Flannery O’Connor, “Revelation”

March 26

“Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed every really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.”

Robert Frost (born March 26, 1874),
from “Two Tramps in Mud Time”

March 27

“The worst meal I ever ate was wonderful.”

Robert Parker (in one of his Spenser novels, I believe)

March 28

“Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend.”

Agatha Christie

March 29

“Do it from the heart or not at all.”

Jeanette Winterson, The Passion

March 30

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

Albert Camus

March 31

“Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day…
But at my back I always here
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

Andrew Marvell (born March 31, 1621), “To his Coy Mistress”

(I’ve borrowed this quote of the day from A Common Reader’s Reader’s Calendar.)

April 1

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”

T. S. Eliot

April 2

“It is hard to remember that this day will never come again. That the time is now and the place is here and that there are no second chances at a single moment.”

Jeanette Winterson, The Passion

April 3

“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 3, 1968, the day before he was murdered

April 4

“During these years in Stamps, I met and fall in love with William Shakespeare. He was my first white love. Although I enjoyed and respected Kipling, Poe, Butler, Thackeray and Henley, I saved my young and loyal passion for Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B. Du Bois’ ‘Litany at Atlanta.’ But it was Shakespeare who said, ‘When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.’ It was a state with which I felt myself most familiar.”

Maya Angelou (born April 4, 1928), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“WHEN in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29

April 5

“. . . I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes–a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees . . . had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

April 6

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”

Robert Frost, “Two Tramps in Mud Time”

April 7

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease . . .”

Walt Whitman

April 8

“Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plan
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

Matthew Arnold (ca. 1851)

April 9

“About five years ago I saw a mockingbird make a straight vertical descent from the roof gutter of a four-story building. It was an act as careless and spontaneous as the curl of a stem or the kindling of a star.”

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

April 10

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with the flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the ‘creative temperament’–it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (published on April 10, 1925)

April 11

“. . . everybody has a great deal of experience in living. But no one lives in anything like the highest style of the art; and it is very disconcerting to notice how badly one lives in the sense of the extent to which fatigue and other discomforts are connected with one’s important dealings with other people.”

Harry Stack Sullivan, The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry

April 12

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

April 13

“I cannot live without books.”

Thomas Jefferson (born April 13, 1743)

April 14

“Writing well isn’t a gift God gives to a chosen few.”

Nancie Atwell

April 15

“If I should certainly say to a novice, ‘Write from experience and experience only,’ I should feel that this was rather a tantalizing monition if I were not careful immediately to add, ‘Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost.'”

Henry James (born April 15, 1843)

April 16

“He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

April 17

Emily: “Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. . . .Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?–every, every minute?”
Stage manager: “No. . . . The saints and poets, maybe–they do some.”

Thornton Wilder (born April 17, 1897) Our Town

April 18
“what in me is dark
Illumine; what is low, raise and support;
That, to the height of this great argument,
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men.”

John Milton, Paradise Lost

April 19

“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.”

George Gordon, Lord Byron (who died on April 19, 1824, at the age of 36)

April 20

“Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.”

Doris Lessing

April 21

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere;
the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn,
as the round earth rolls.”

John Muir (born April 21, 1838)

April 22

“Fortune leaves always some door open to come at a remedy.”

Miguel de Cervantes (died April 23, 1616), Don Quixote de la Mancha

(There are many significant literary births and deaths on April 23, but the quote for that day belongs to Shakespeare.)

April 23

“O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention:
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.”

William Shakespeare (who was probably born on April 23, 1564, and who died on April 23, 1616), Henry V

April 24

“What is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding? It is the deepest part of autobiography.”

Robert Penn Warren (born April 24, 1905)

April 25

“Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!”

William Wordsworth (died April 23, 1850)

April 26

“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader.”

Vladimir Nabokov (born April 23, 1899)

April 27

“The only gift is a portion of thyself.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (died April 27, 1882)

April 28

“Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.”

Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926)

April 29

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens, the first paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities (the first installment was published on April 30, 1859)

April 30

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts? Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power? What do we ever know that is higher than that power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered? Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love? We still and always want waking. We should amass half dressed in long lines like tribesmen and shake gourds at each other, to wake up; instead we watch television and miss the show.”

Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945), The Writing Life

May 1

“Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’–that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

“‘She cannot fade, though thou has not thy bliss,’ McCaslin said: ‘Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair.’
“‘He’s talking about a girl,’ he said.
“‘He had to talk about something,’ McCaslin said. . . . ‘He was talking about truth. Truth is one. It doesn’t change. It covers all things which touch the heart–honor and pride and pity and justice and courage and love. . . .They all touch the heart, and what the heart holds to becomes truth, as far as we know truth.'”

William Faulkner, “The Bear” in Go Down, Moses

May 2

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

The King James Bible (published May 2, 1611)

May 3

“I had . . . come to an entirely erroneous conclusion which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”

May 4
“I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an indefatigable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and, above all, compassion.”

Kurt Hahn

May 5

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.”

Lauren Bacall

May 6

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. . . . I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Henry David Thoreau (died May 6, 1862), Walden

May 7

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”

Robert Browning (born May 7, 1812)

May 8

“No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do.”

Dorothy Day

May 9

“. . . sports are fundamentally unimportant except in the context of the values they teach.”

E.M. Swift, Sports Illustrated (May 2, 1994)

May 10

“Time’s fun when you’re having flies.”

Kermit the Frog

May 11

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Rudyard Kipling, “If”

(Today is Scott Stover’s 11th birthday.)

May 12

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

May 13

“The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn’t thought about. At that moment he’s alive and you leave it to him.”

Graham Greene

May 14

“You end up as you deserve. In old age you must put up with the face, the friends, the health, and the children you have earned.”

Fay Weldon

May 15

“Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.”

Emily Dickinson (died May 15, 1886)

May 16

“Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

May 17

“The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.”

Nadine Gordimer

May 18

“… to a poet, the human community is like the community of birds to a bird, singing to each other. Love is one of the reasons we are singing to one another, love of language itself, love of sound, love of singing itself, and love of the other birds.”

Sharon Olds

May 19

“O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!”

Sir Walter Scott

“Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave
When they think that their children are naïve.”

Ogden Nash (died May 19, 1971)

May 20

“All is true.”

Honoré de Balzac (born May 20, 1799), Le Père Goriot

May 21

“O pusillanimous Heart, be comforted
And, like a cheerful traveller, take the road
Singing beside the hedge.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Cheerfulness Taught by Reason”

May 22

“It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognise out of a number of facts which are incidental and which are vital…. I would call your attention to the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (born May 22, 1859), “Silver Blaze”

May 23, 2002

“There is no such thing as a weird human being.”

Tom Robbins

May 24

“O Lord . . . . [g]ive them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.”
Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

May 25

“A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (born May 25, 1803)

May 26

“Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (born May 25, 1803)

May 27

“The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man. The concepts and practices of applied entomology for the most part date from that Stone Age of science. It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth.”

Rachel Carson (born May 27, 1907)

May 28

“Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.”

Seamus Heaney

May 29

A quotation for teachers: “Don’t forget that it is your students’ ignorance that gives you your job.”

Allen Cook

May 30

“Why write if this too easy activity of pushing a pen across paper is not given a certain bullfighting risk and we do not approach dangerous, agile and two-horned topics?”

José Ortega y Gasset

May 31

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.”

George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

“Summer afternoon–summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Henry James

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