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MTS Speed-Building Challenge - posted on 17th Oct 2018 at 7:25 PM
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Mad Poster
Original Poster
#1 Old 9th Sep 2009 at 11:32 PM
Default Book Passages/Literary Discussion
We have a thread to share what we're reading, but as that topic is rather limited to lists and does not easily lend itself to literary discussion, I felt that we should have a separate thread entirely. Come here to talk about what you're reading- perhaps someone else will want to weigh in. Feel free to post passages from your favorite books, poems, and plays, as well- I love to read through what specifically moved people from a literary work. I'll start with this selection:

"I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of the carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
But carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where;
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride.
So I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep."

-Sonnet XVII, by Pablo Neruda

Share your favorite passages, and get discussing !

Do I dare disturb the universe?
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Rubric Wrangler
staff: administrator
#2 Old 10th Sep 2009 at 2:13 PM
Yay! A poetry thread!

Rabid, I've never read that one before, but it's gorgeous.

How To Build an Owl, by Kathleen Lynch

"1. Decide you must.

2. Develop deep respect
for feather, bone, claw.

3. Place your trembling thumb
where the heart will be:
for one hundred hours watch
so you will know
where to put the first feather.

4. Stay awake forever.
When the bird takes shape
gently pry open its beak
and whisper into it: mouse

5. Let it go."

One of my favourite "modern" poems, I love the rich imagery and the way it conveys what an owl is (particularly "step four")

"Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears."

Down By the Salley Gardens, W.B. Yeats.

The meadows are in bloom:
who has ever seen such insolence?

#3 Old 10th Sep 2009 at 2:31 PM
Pharaoh Hound I love that first one
This is still one of my favourite poems

I Am Not Dead
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am diamond glints of snow;
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush;
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds encircled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.

There's this old Celtic hymn called St. Patricks' Breastplate and most of it is all about going to batle and God and chivalry, but there's one verse that is absolutely beautiful, the first time I read it it made me shiver.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

Call me Meg

lately i want everything
every star tied to a string

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Perfecting the Pedagogy
retired moderator
#4 Old 10th Sep 2009 at 3:20 PM
This Is Just to Say - William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I love this poem

"Holy Shift! Check out the asymptotes on that mother function!"
Rubric Wrangler
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#5 Old 10th Sep 2009 at 8:41 PM
daluved - my dad did that poem with his IB English class, and then he had the class do pastiches of it. And I got to mark them. Very interesting poem.

Darkness by Lord Byron
"I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:..."

The full poem is much longer, and here's one passage that actually made me a bit teary-eyed:

"The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famished men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress—he died."

Not a cheerful poem by any means, but extremely moving. Interestingly, it's vaguely based on a historical event. Not as apocalyptic as all that, but 1816 (the year it was written) was popularly described as "the year without a summer". Ash from the eruption of Mount Tambora caused global cold, gloom and doom. Nasty stuff!

The meadows are in bloom:
who has ever seen such insolence?

Mad Poster
Original Poster
#6 Old 10th Sep 2009 at 8:45 PM
It doesn't have to be all poetry- we can discuss books and post passages from novels, too. I just started with a poem because it was on my mind.

I've never understood the literary merit of William Carlos Williams, daluved. I feel like the majority of his poems are futile. Then again, the same has been said of E. E. Cummings, who I believe to be an incredible visionary (my second favorite poet, with Pablo Neruda being the first).

"I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved in more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and counter-Turn, and Stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make).

Loves like a gander, and adores a goose;
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay;
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone
But who would count eternity in days?
Those old bones learn to live in her wanton ways
(I measure time by how a body sways)."

-I knew a woman, by Theodore Roethke.

Do I dare disturb the universe?
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Mad Poster
#7 Old 10th Sep 2009 at 10:56 PM
I absolutely adore the first passage from "The Time Traveler's Wife," by Audrey Niffenegger.

"It’s hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays.
I keep myself busy. Time goes faster that way. I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple. Why is love intensified by absence?
Long ago, men went to sea and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting.
Why has he gone where I cannot follow?"
#8 Old 11th Sep 2009 at 2:57 AM
"I didn't particularly want to live much longer than twenty. Life seemed rather daunting. It seems so to me even now. Life seemed like too long a time to have to stick around, a huge span of years through which one would be required to tap dance and smile and be Great! and be Happy! and be Amazing! and be Precocious! I was tired of life by the time I was sixteen. I was tired of being too much, too intense, too manic. I was tired of people, and I was incredibly tired of myself. I wanted to do whatever Amazing Thing I was expected to do and be done with it. Go to sleep. Go to a heaven where there was nothing but bathtubs and books."

Mad Poster
Original Poster
#9 Old 7th Oct 2009 at 1:37 AM
"Sanjay sat there, cross-legged, and the rain fell on him and the water fell on him from the leaves above, and as he took breath in and out the sound of the water grew so loud in his ears that it receded into a kind of silence, and in this pool of silence he gazed until he saw his childhood, his friends, his parents, and then he saw his youth, how he knew passion, and he saw all this and then he gave it, he let it go, and he felt it leave like a spark from the top of his head; and then he thought about his enemies, the ones he hated, and how he despised them, and the people he had murdered, and his offenses clung to him but finally with a sigh he let it all go; one by one the things that tied him to life dissolved and vanished and he felt his soul floating unfettered and close to the white frontier of death, but still there was something, it held him back like a thin chain; and suddenly he remembered the student's face from London, the thin boy whose name he had asked, and he cried into the water, you children of the future, you young men and women who will set us free, may you be happy, may you be faultless, may you be as soft as a rose petal and as hard as thunder, may you be fearless, may you be forgiving, may you be clever and may you have unmoved faith, may you be Hindustani and Indian and English and everything else at the same time, may you be neither this nor that, may you be better than us."

-Red Earth & Pouring Rain, by Vikram Chandra

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Field Researcher
#10 Old 7th Oct 2009 at 3:43 AM
"'Here,' she said, 'in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don't love your eyes; they'd just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face 'cause they don't love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain't in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don't love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I'm talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I'm telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they'd just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver--love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.'"

- Baby Suggs from Toni Morrison's Beloved

I actually didn't like this book (or this author, really)...at all. But I love this passage. <3


"If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is ‘God is crying’. And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is ‘Probably because of something you did’."
- Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#11 Old 11th Oct 2009 at 9:14 PM
Some Johnathan Safran Foer, my favorite author...

"But more than that, no unloving words were ever spoken, and everything was held up as another small piece of proof that it can be this way: if there is no love in the world, then we will make a new world, and we will give it walls, and we will furnish it with soft, red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweler's felt so that we should never hear it. Love me, because love doesn't exist, and I have tried everything that does."

"One day you will do awful things for me that you hate. This is what it means to be family."

"When I looked at you, my life made sense. Even the bad things made sense. They were all necessary to make you possible."

"It's the tragedy of loving; you can't love anything more than something you miss."

"When I was a girl, my life was music always getting louder. Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calendar showing the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from the chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of the table. I spent my life learning to feel less. Every day I felt less. Is that growing old, or is it something worse? You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness."

And a few from his wife, Nicole Krauss...

"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering."

"Holding hands is a way to remember how it feels to say nothing together."

"Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled, or she was pulling someone else's hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted- wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don't look at me. If you don't, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me."

"Leopold Gursky started dying on August 18th, 1920. He died learning to walk. He died standing at the blackboard. And once, also, carrying a heavy tray. He died practicing a new way to sign his name. Opening a window. Washing his genitals in the bath. He died alone, because he was too embarrassed to phone anyone. Or her died thinking about Alma. Or when he chose not to. Really, there isn't much to say. He was a great writer. He fell in love. It was his life."

Do I dare disturb the universe?
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Mad Poster
Original Poster
#12 Old 1st Nov 2009 at 8:57 PM
Threadcromancy :P.

"Words... They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good any more... I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you're dead." –The Real Thing, by Tom Stoppard

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Mad Poster
#13 Old 1st Nov 2009 at 9:00 PM
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

-Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#14 Old 1st Nov 2009 at 9:19 PM
Ben Harper has actually put "I'll Rise" to music- it's a great song.

"I shall have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love, love, love, above all. Love as there has never been in a play. Unbiddable, ungovernable, like a riot in the heart and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture."

"Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood, when it first occurred to you that you don't go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one's memory. And yet I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all. We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the word for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squalling...with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction and time is its only measure."

Both from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

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#15 Old 2nd Nov 2009 at 8:37 AM
"When I'm old I shall wear midnight, she'd decided. But for now she'd had enough of darkness."

Terry Pratchett, Hat Full of Sky.

Call me Meg

lately i want everything
every star tied to a string

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Mad Poster
Original Poster
#16 Old 12th Nov 2009 at 10:02 PM
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

-Bright Star, by John Keats

Do I dare disturb the universe?
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Rubric Wrangler
staff: administrator
#17 Old 2nd Jan 2010 at 2:32 PM
*revives thread* ^ Keats is probably my favourite poet.

"Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unembodied joy whose race is just begun."


-To a Skylark, Percy Bysshe Shelley
I painted my desk based on "To a Skylark"

"I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night."
-Acquainted with the Night, Robert Frost

My dad's a huge fan of Frost, and he had me to a collage for this poem (he's retired teaching now, so he gives me assignments instead )

The meadows are in bloom:
who has ever seen such insolence?

Mad Poster
Original Poster
#18 Old 10th Jan 2010 at 1:04 AM
It's hard for me to pick a favorite poet. John Keats, Pablo Neruda, and Theodore Roethke are probably the closest I could narrow it down to.

"I had too much to write: too many fine and miserable buildings to construct and streets to name and clock towers to set chiming, too many characters to raise up from the dirt like flowers whose petals I peeled down to the intricate frail organs within, too many terrible genetic and fiduciary secrets to dig up and bury and dig up again, too many divorces to grant, heirs to disinherit, trysts to arrange, letters to misdirect into evil hands, innocent children to slay with rheumatic fever, women to leave unfulfilled and hopeless, men to drive to adultery and theft, fires to ignite at the hearts of ancient houses." -Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon

"If we are to be such nomads with the truth, why do we not make the story more premium than life? It seems to me that we are making the story even inferior… we could give your grandfather two arms, and could make him high-fidelity… it could be perfect and beautiful and funny, and usefully said, as you say… I do not think there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem." -Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer

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#19 Old 10th Jan 2010 at 4:07 AM
I don't really like e.e.cummings as a rule, but I love his poem i carry your heart with me. Rabid has it in her signature actually

i carry your heart with me, e.e. cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Call me Meg

lately i want everything
every star tied to a string

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Mad Poster
Original Poster
#20 Old 11th Feb 2010 at 8:31 PM
Because Evelyn Waugh is one of the most beautiful writers ever.

"Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there's no room for the present at all." -Brideshead Revisited

"That was the change in her from ten years ago; that, indeed, was her reward, this haunting, magical sadness which spoke straight to the heart and struck silence; it was the completion of her beauty." -Brideshead Revisited

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Field Researcher
#21 Old 19th Feb 2010 at 2:11 PM
I don't read a lot of poetry, but we studied this one in English class last year and I loved it.

in Just- by e.e. cummings

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan whistles

I love the weird spacing and the language that he uses. This poem is actually a lot darker than it seems at first glance, once you get into the analysis- but I personally prefer it when taken at face value, because it conjures up such welcoming imagery.

"I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."
-Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Mad Poster
Original Poster
#22 Old 21st Feb 2010 at 9:42 PM
A little bit of Michael Ondaatje's spectacularly romantic, beautifully written The English Patient.

"We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up from as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography- to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience."

"Her life with others no longer interests him. He wants only her stalking beauty, her theater of expressions. He wants the minute secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book."

"I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are, not boundaries drawn on maps by men. I know you'll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That's what I've wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps. All I've ever wanted was a world without maps."

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Lab Assistant
#23 Old 14th Mar 2010 at 6:20 AM

MOURN not the dead that in the cool earth lie
Dust unto dust

The calm, sweet earth that mothers all who die
As all men must ;

Mourn not your captive comrades who must dwell-
Too strong to strive
Within each steel-bound coffin of a cell,
Buried alive ;

But rather mourn the apathetic throng
The cowed and the meek
Who see the world s great anguish and its wrong
And dare not speak !

“If I never met you, I wouldn't like you. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't love you. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't miss you. But I did, I do, and I will.”

#24 Old 14th Mar 2010 at 8:23 AM
This makes me laugh every time. I must have read this book about 5 times:

"My father gave me three pounds last night. He said 'Get your mother something decent, son, it could be the last time'. I certainly wasn't going all the way to town for her, so I went to Mr Cherry's and bought a box of Black Magic, and a card saying 'To a wonderful mother'.
Card manufacturers must think all mothers are wonderful because every single card has 'wonderful' written on it somewhere. I felt like crossing out 'wonderful' and putting 'wanton' in its place, but I didn't. I signed it 'from your son, Adrian'. I gave it to her this morning. She said, 'Adrian, you shouldn't have'. She was right, I shouldn't have."

That's from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Age 13 3/4. I have all of them. :3
It's really up there with my favourite books ever.

Rubric Wrangler
staff: administrator
#25 Old 14th Mar 2010 at 8:51 PM
The poem that's currently on my signature:

Those Images - W.B. Yeats

What if I bade you leave
The cavern of the mind?
There's better exercise
In the sunlight and wind.

I never bade you go
To Moscow or to Rome.
Renounce that drudgery,
Call the Muses home.

Seek those images
That constitute the wild,
The lion and the virgin,
The harlot and the child.

Find in middle air
An eagle on the wing,
Recognise the five
That make the Muses sing.

Love the imagery, and the lyric nature of it.

The meadows are in bloom:
who has ever seen such insolence?

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