I’ve set as a project for 2006 re-reading all of my journals (17 notebooks beginning with 1980) and extracting all of the quotations I copied out for placement in this commonplace. Here is the result so far:
his chaotic music will riddle me til
I’m half again the girl I used to be, til
I’m senseless, perforated ecstasy,
til I’m holy.
— Rachel Srubas, from “I Want to Marry You”
(Commenting on the poem, Srubas says, “But in order to comment on the poem, I have to talk about love, which, I’ve learned, plunges us into our darkest histories and then brings us back up still breathing, with artifacts to show for ourselves.”)
Baby books may well be an undiscovered genre of women’s writing, relatively conflict free, circumscribed, ghost-writing and autobiography of a life within and without, possessed and unpossessed.
— Barbara Antonia Clark Mossberg, “Sylvia Plath’s Baby Book,”
in Coming to Light: American Women Poets in the Twentieth
I was thinking of a son.
The womb is not a clock
nor a bell tolling,
but in the eleventh month of its life
I feel the November
of the body as well as of the calendar.
— Anne Sexton
I know that there is something sad and distasteful about love’s ending, particularly love that has never been fully realized. . . . In our deepest moments we say the most inadequate things.
— Edna O’Brien, “Sister Imelda,”
first published in The New Yorker, November 9, 1981
Each phase of nature, while not invisible, is yet not too distinct and obtrusive. It is there to be found when we look for it, but not demanding our attention.
— Henry David Thoreau, from his journal, November 8, 1858
There is less sunlight than
shade today; . . .
. . . A good day
for reading at a window or beneath a tree, the light
shining at the edges of the clouds
and from the small open areas of the sky.
— Prentiss Moore, “November 7,” included in A Year in Poetry
There is nothing to eat,
seek it where you will,
but the body of the Lord.
The blessed plants
and the sea yield it
to the imagination
— William Carlos Williams,
quoted by Wendell Berry in “The Pleasures of Eating,”
an essay in We Are What We Ate
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
— Pablo Neruda
We were Catholic in a working class neighborhood, so we did not expect ot deserve joy at the supper table. Eating was a duty. Our table talk ran to imperatives and complaints. . . . Ours was discomfort food, Our motto: Let no food offend with assertive taste.
— John Dufresne, “Nothing to Eat But Food,”
in We Are What We Ate
. . . a living room in the house of a life she never bargained for.
— Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
We’ve come round again
to short days and long nights;
the clocks barely keep up,
a spare dream of summer
alive in the house. . .
— Wendell Berry. “The Design of a House”