Some of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature are Like Poems

We we read the list a friend forwarded of 50 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature, we felt like we were reading poems, each one complete unto itself. Some are so potent, it might be best to just read one a day.

Who compiled the list? Searching for its origins, we found endless repost after repost, from The Floating Library via The Unbounded Spirit via…on and on and on.

It’s one of the illuminating treasures on the web… lovely to land on a favorite that reverberates strongly…

 

How wild it was, to let it be.

 

1. “At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great”
—Willa Cather, My Antonia

2. “In our village, folks say God crumbles up the old moon into stars.”
—Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

3. “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” —J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”

4. “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

6. “Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
—Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

7. “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

8. “What are men to rocks and mountains?”
—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

10. “‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.’”
—Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

11. “The curves of your lips rewrite history.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

12. “A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

14. “As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these: a) Anything can happen to anyone. and b) It is best to be prepared.”
—Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

15. “If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.” —W. H. Auden, “The More Loving One”

16. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden

18. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

19. “America, I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.” —Allen Ginsburg, “America”

20. “It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat, but it was a defeat better than many victories.”
—W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

22. “At the still point, there the dance is.” —T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

23. “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.”
—Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

24. “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”
—Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

26. “The pieces I am, she gather them and gave them back to me in all the right order.”
—Toni Morrison, Beloved

27. “How wild it was, to let it be.”
—Cheryl Strayed, Wild

28. “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” —T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

30. “She was lost in her longing to understand.”
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

31. “She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.” —Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”

32. “We cross our bridges as 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 the presumption that once our eyes watered.”
—Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead

34. “The half life of love is forever.”
—Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her

35. “I sing myself and celebrate myself.
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

36. “There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”
—Bram Stroker, Dracula

37. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.” —L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

38. “I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.” —Raymond Carver, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”

39. “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
—Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre

41. “I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams” —W. B. Yeats, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”

42. “It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes.”
—Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

43. “For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly.”
—Langston Hughes, The Big Sea

45. “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”
—Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

46. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

47. “Journeys end in lovers meeting.”
—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

49. “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

50. “One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
—Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices

 

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet. 

 

Thanks to David Saltman at Houdini File

Top image from The Hole Gallery’s Summer Reading.

3 Responses to Some of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature are Like Poems

  1. Stacey Harwood-Lehman 05.07.2018 at 3:53pm #

    #15 is from a poem. “The More Loving One” by W. H. Auden. It’s a favorite and one that I’ve committed to memory:

    The More Loving One

    Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
    That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
    But on earth indifference is the least
    We have to dread from man or beast.

    How should we like it were stars to burn
    With a passion for us we could not return?
    If equal affection cannot be,
    Let the more loving one be me.

    Admirer as I think I am
    Of stars that do not give a damn,
    I cannot, now I see them, say
    I missed one terribly all day.

    Were all stars to disappear or die,
    I should learn to look at an empty sky
    And feel its total dark sublime,
    Though this might take me a little time.
    — W. H. Auden

    It always raises the question: Which would you rather be, the more loved or the more loving?

  2. Sally Schneider 05.07.2018 at 8:34pm #

    That is so very beautiful. THANK YOU, for supplying the whole poem and its wonderful question.

  3. Stacey Harwood-Lehman 05.08.2018 at 9:48am #

    You’re welcome Sally. It’s always a pleasure to find poetry here. Any poetry questions? I’m your man! (Even though I’m a woman.)

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