The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotes That Make You Go Hmmm...

Related Quotes      Philosophical      Wise Words      Philosophy      Be Yourself

Welcome to my page of mind-bending quotations. Imagine if you will — it is early 1991 and as a teenager I spend countless hours dancing in my bedroom to the new C+C Music Factory album (cassette tape, of course). "Hmmm," I think to myself during one of those dance sessions for which I would never have the energy now, "that’s what I could call my quotations that are kinda weird and I don’t know how to categorize." And thus "Quotes That Make You Go Hmmm" was born and my notebook of quotes properly modified. Insert shout-out to Arsenio Hall here. So from me to you, enjoy the madness of this many-years-growing compilation which I subtitle "quotations the mind has trouble absorbing," and dance if you so please! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g

I really like things I don’t understand: when I read a thing I don’t understand I feel a sweet and abysmal vertigo. ~Clarice Lispector (1920–1977), A Breath of Life: Pulsations, written 1974–1977, published posthumously 1978, edited by Olga Borelli and Benjamin Moser, translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz, 2012  [Angela —tg]

Sometimes I have to stand on my head to see things as they are, when the world seems so upside-down that this is the only position in which anything makes sense. ~Author unknown

Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions. ~Stephen Leacock, "Gertrude the Governess: or, Simple Seventeen," Nonsense Novels, 1911

The star shines on in its starry realm, nor ever stops to relate. It is I, I, this lowly firefly, with heart aflame with longing, that shall tell you the wondrous story of the star. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

The day was counting up its birds and never got the answer right. ~Author unknown

And upsidedown in the earth a dead man walks upon my soles when I walk. ~Bill Knott, "(End) of Summer (1966)" (Thanks, Laurie)

Night and morning are making promises to each other which neither will be able to keep. ~Richard Shelton

I imagine that yes is the only living thing. ~E.E. Cummings (1894–1962)

Ink smears, as thoughts sometimes do. ~Terri Guillemets

Never mind. The self is the least of it. Let our scars fall in love. ~Galway Kinnell

Her hearing was keener than his, and she heard silences he was unaware of. ~D.M. Thomas

Silence moves faster when it’s going backward. ~Jean Cocteau

We are asleep with compasses in our hands. ~W.S. Merwin

If only I could leave everything as it is, without moving a single star or a single cloud. Oh, if only I could! ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Sharp nostalgia, infinite and terrible, for what I already possess. ~Juan Ramon Jimenez

[T]he departing world leaves behind... not an heir, but a pregnant widow. ~Alexander Ivanovich Herzen, Other Shore

Two and two the mathematician continues to make four, in spite of the whine of the amateur for three, or the cry of the critic for five. ~James McNeill Whistler, Whistler Versus Ruskin, 1878

We are never prepared for what we expect. ~James A. Michener, Caravans

The universe is simmering down, like a giant stew left to cook for four billion years. Sooner or later we won’t be able to tell the carrots from the onions. ~Arthur Bloch

It has been said repeatedly that one can never, try as he will, get around to the front of the universe. Man is destined to see only its far side, to realize nature only in retreat. ~Loren Eiseley, "The Innocent Fox," The Star Thrower, 1978

But perhaps the universe is suspended on the tooth of some monster. ~Anton Chekhov

In taking the old name for the new papers, he felt bound to say that he had uttered unwise things under that title, and if it shall appear that his unwisdom has not diminished by at least half while his years have doubled, he promises not to repeat the experiment if he should live to double them again and become his own grandfather. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Autocrat's Autobiography," 1858

Our dream dashes itself against the great mystery like a wasp against a window pane. Less merciful than man, God never opens the window. ~Jules Renard, Journal, 1906

I will pass through the furnace whose firebrands mark my soul. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

Fear is a cloak which old men huddle about their love, as if to keep it warm. ~William Wordsworth

You can owe nothing, if you give back its light to the sun. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

the high cost of
living isnt so bad if you
dont have to pay for it
~Don Marquis, archy and mehitabel

Take the so-called standard of living. What do most people mean by "living"? They don’t mean living. They mean the latest and closest plural approximation to singular prenatal passivity which science, in its finite but unbounded wisdom, has succeeded in selling their wives. ~E.E. Cummings, Introduction, Poems, 1954

You’re only as sick as your secrets. ~Author Unknown

Who knows
the sound a wound makes?
~John Montague (b.1929), from "Sound of a Wound"

Those who gave away their wings are sad not to see them fly. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

All that we know is nothing, we are merely crammed waste-paper baskets, unless we are in touch with that which laughs at all our knowing. ~D.H. Lawrence, "Peace and War," Pansies, 1929

She throws her coin into a fountain already filled with hopeful coins, yet wonders if the wishes might become tangled. ~Dr. SunWolf,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
~T.S. Eliot, 1943

The beginning of all wisdom is to look fixedly on clothes, or even with armed eyesight, till they become transparent. ~Thomas Carlyle

I believe if I should die, and you were to walk near my grave, from the very depths of the earth I would hear your footsteps. ~Benito Perez Galdos

She is a perfect and beautiful plant,
I am the nebulous chaos of yore.
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "Two," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855

You are sad because they abandon you and you have not fallen. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

      I wandered one night out over the brink of eternity.... "Open and let me in," I cried. "'Tis a weary pilgrim, a lost soul.... The life-boat is for the storm-tossed ship, and so is the signal light in the harbor, and this — this is the wreck of a soul crying for the life-line!"
      The gates swung open. I awoke and went out again into the world of men, and all day I sang at my work. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

Another way of approaching the thing is to consider it unnamed, unnamable. ~Francis Ponge

Our reconstruction program, involving as it does the unascertainable principle that a depression is the indirect result of direct economic causes, cannot but succeed in seriously mitigating a situation which would otherwise prove ambidextrous to every left-handed right-thinking moron. ~E.E. Cummings, "And It Came to Pass," 1932

Invent a past for the present. ~Daniel Stern

A random star shatters
      Dreams free-fall
Your future glitters
      And lights the sky
~Terri Guillemets

My great day came and went, I do not know how. Because it did not pass through dawn when it came, nor through dusk when it went. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Some Passages from a Journal That Was Never Kept  ~Sharpe's London Magazine, 1848

Between the figure and the shadow is where all the secret energy lies. ~Terri Guillemets

Nothing is not only nothing. It is also our prison. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

A hunter of shadows, himself a shade. ~Homer

If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats. ~Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, 1977

The only interesting answers are those which destroy the questions. ~Susan Sontag

Within your lifetime will, perhaps,
As souvenirs from distant suns
Be carried back to earth some maps
Of planets and you’ll find that one’s
So hard to color that you’ve got
To use five crayons. Maybe, not.
~Marlow Sholander, "Maybe"

I spend the nights awake searching my soul and my days chasing dreams in the wind. ~Terri Guillemets

You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint paradise, then in you go. ~Nikos Kazantzakis

Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one’s bath like a lump of sugar. ~Pablo Picasso

Flowers weaved into your hair and stars trapped inside your mind. ~Harold,

I sit at my window gazing
The world passes by, nods to me
And is gone.
~Rabindranath Tagore

No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it. ~Terry Pratchett

I wish I could have known earlier that you have all the time you’ll need right up to the day you die. ~William Wiley

If we dance amongst the rooftops, is it not that much further to jig into the starshine? ~Terri Guillemets

I am the vessel. The draft is God’s. And God is the thirsty one. ~Dag Hammarskjold, Markings, 1964

If I answer the stranger at my gate while my own cry within, — perhaps my own is at the gate, and the strangers are within. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

The first step... shall be to lose the way. ~Galway Kinnell

[Y]ears of quiet bliss
To me, fast-rooted on paternal land,
Mated, yet childless. He had journeyed far
Beyond the borders of my life...
~Bayard Taylor, "First Evening"

I am the universe's harlot,
Selling myself to ecstasy's thrills;
Giving myself to be debauched of stars, ravished of ineffableness;
Seduced by a wanton ungraspableness;
Coming to marriage bed with infinity's horde,
Wanton wife of the eternity of things.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Creation Songs: VIII," A Soul's Faring, 1921

I am the dreamer on the edge of his dream. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

I am... the potency-thrill. I am the fructifier meeting the urge of space, scattering my spawn like the dust of stars in the Milky Way. I am... the yearning. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Creation Songs: VI," A Soul's Faring, 1921

Ask, mournful Muse, by one alone inspired:
What change? am I less fond, or thou less fair?
Or is it, that thy mounting soul is tired
Of duteous homage and religious care?
~William Johnson Cory (1823–1892), "Amavi"

Psychoanalysis and Zen, in my private psychic geometry, are equal to nicotine. They are anti-existential. Nicotine quarantines one out of existence. ~Norman Mailer

The Great Way has no gate.
Clear water has no taste.
The tongue has no bone.
In complete stillness, a stone girl is dancing.
~Seung Sahn

If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake — Aye, what then? ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

He who does not fill his world with phantoms remains alone. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

...and leave wishes to those foolish enough to make them. ~Terri Guillemets

Strickland had burst the bonds that hitherto had held him. He had found, not himself, as the phrase goes, but a new soul with unsuspected powers.... a spirituality, troubling and new, which led the imagination along unsuspected ways, and suggested dim empty spaces, lit only by the eternal stars, where the soul, all naked, adventured fearful to the discovery of new mysteries. ~W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, 1919

The understanding of my life
Costs a dollar ninety-nine
But all I've got to spend
Is a pocketful of pesos.
~Terri Guillemets

I am the Love Cactus. Make desert to me. ~Jarod Kintz, My love can only occupy one person at a time

I would go to heaven, but I would take my hell; I would not go alone. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

It's hard to categorize the half expressions, the ones which reside in between. But this morning, I'm calling Perry mad by sadwest. ~Edmond Manning, King Perry

lovesmile, passionkiss
soulhug, sexywink
friendlaugh, prayerknees
spiritbreeze, glowcloud
wildrain, skypoem
peacesnow, thunderboom
lifegarden, teacalm
rainbowsoul, courageheart
happyvibe, angelfriend
fairydream, hopeblossom
joyjump, faithbreath
~Terri Guillemets, "My vocab," 2009

I do not incline my ear at the door of tombs — I listen at the roots of grasses.
I do not question dusty tomes — I ask the stars.
Parchment has no meaning to me — I ask my living, quivering breath.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "At the Roots of Grasses: I," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923

A naked lunch is natural to us,
we eat reality sandwiches
But allegories are so much lettuce.
Don’t hide the madness.
~Allen Ginsberg, "On Burroughs’ Work"

Love, she said, should be said more slowly, and ran from the house. Words could not catch her as such. Honesty is so slow, that is the trouble. ~Author Unknown

She lit my soul and inhaled deeply
Flicking my ashes occasionally
Finally, she ground me out...
~Henry Rollins

...i breathe a reverie’d ether of beauty
i drown in fantasy too deep
i love on the edges of souls
i sleep on the shores of night...
~Terri Guillemets

I do not utter littlenesses — I speak a skyline or an ant-hill.
I speak big things, that measure up to big trees and little grasses; great things, like God and daffodils; stupendous things, like ages and a moment.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "At the Roots of Grasses: XV," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923

They have stopped deceiving you, not loving you. And it seems to you that they have stopped loving you. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Her asterisks are daft, postscripts redundant, and prose parenthetical. ~Terri Guillemets

It is known that there is an infinite number of worlds, but that not every one is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so if every planet in the Universe has a population of zero then the entire population of the Universe must also be zero, and any people you may actually meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination. ~Douglas Adams, The Original Hitchhiker Radio Script

I see walking bombs on the street
Hearts not beating, but ticking...
~Henry Rollins

Learning is not easy, but hard; culture is severe. The steps to Parnassus are steep and terribly arduous. ~John Jay Chapman

I come with my rendered life.
I carry burdens: I lift mountains with a song.
I dig ditches — furrows to the moon and trenches to the Milky Way.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of the Strong: XXX" A Soul's Faring, 1921

He who holds me by a thread is not strong; the thread is strong. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

i hem my madness with sanity
i tick, i zig, i zag, and i tock
i ride wayward shooting stars
~Terri Guillemets

Alas! must it ever be so?
Do we stand in our own light, wherever we go,
And fight our own shadows forever?
~Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton

She dreamt of fairydust pardons and punishment in lashings of chocolate. ~Terri Guillemets

I dipped my brush in venom — and to the discerning I but portrayed myself. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

When cherry blossoms fall onto you, don't wipe them away — close your eyes and have cherry blossom dreams! ~Terri Guillemets

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken," 1916

You think you are killing me. I think you are committing suicide. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered. ~Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

It is half dawn and half dark
and in my drunken dreams I smell flowers and hear a skylark...
~Yuan Zhen, translated

You purchase pain with all that joy can give, and die of nothing but a rage to live. ~Alexander Pope

I don't know,
It's thirds and thirds and thirds again
That makes us whole...
~Terri Guillemets

My heaviness comes from the heights. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
~Robert Frost, In the Clearing, 1962

I have figured for you the distance between the horns of a dilemma, night and day, and A and Z. I have computed how far is Up, how long it takes to get Away, and what becomes of Gone. I have discovered the length of the sea serpent, the price of priceless, and the square of the hippopotamus. I know where you are when you are at Sixes and Sevens, how much Is you have to have to make an Are, and how many birds you can catch with the salt in the ocean — 187,796,132, if it would interest you. ~James Thurber, Many Moons

An elegant poet I am not —
I write poetry as a man slips on a banana peel.
But fate must call on mediocrity as well as genius,
And fruit as well as nuts.
~Terri Guillemets

If you come to a fork in the road, take it. ~Yogi Berra

I am the cry of the nebula to become a star, the stream following its dream to the sea...
I am the moment of time calling to infinity.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of Longing: I," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923

My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers. ~Tom Stoppard

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Original post date 1998 March 18th
Last saved 2021 Jan 14 Thu 18:24 PST

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