A Literary Mixtape, Volume 2

This is a literary “mixtape,” of sorts, with literary quotes arranged in a hopefully thematic and pleasing way, sort of like a cassette tape that you’d give your boyfriend or girlfriend or something. This is the second or maybe third one of these here “mixtapes,” and as always, some of the quotes are slightly misquoted from memory. Confused? Are you? No? I hope not. If you are confused, fret not. Confusion is the natural state of mankind, and also, if you are confused, you can see the previous mixtape for details.

Anyway, as a reader, your job is to read this — yes, doy — but your job is also to leave your favorite quotes in the comment section, so that the journey may continue. For as a wise man once said, the journey never ends; rather, it goes on and on and on and on…

glitter text generator



…Context is everything. Dress me up and see.

Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn

Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had wak’d after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming…
I cried to dream again.

–The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 2

Sea go dark, dark with wind,
Feet go heavy, heavy with sand,
Thoughts go wild, wild with the sound
Of iron on the old shed swinging, clanging:
Go dark, go heavy, go wild, go round,
Dark with the wind,
Heavy with the sand,
Wild with the iron that tears at the nail
And the foundering shriek of the gale.

-Allen Curnow

If writers drain life out of those around them, if writers are vampires, are nightmares… To be clear: I don’t come at these people. They come at me. They come at me like information formed in the night. I don’t make them. They’re already there.

–Martin Amis, The Information

…Mommy’s all right, daddy’s all right;
They just seem a little weird.
Surrender to the night.

Cheap Trick

Streetlights. People. Living just to find emotion.
…Hiding, somewhere in the night.


In his tunic pocket was a hard, sharp-edged thing. He drew it forth and looked at it, puzzled. It was a small stone, black, porous, hard. He almost tossed it away. Then he felt the edges of it in his hand, rough and searing, and knew it for what it was, a bit of rock from the Mountains of Pain. It had caught in his pocket as he climbed… He held it in his hand, this unchanging thing, the stone of pain. He closed his hand on it and held it. And he smiled then, a smile both somber and joyous, knowing, for the first time in his life, alone, unpraised, and at the end of the world, victory.

–Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted… Live in fragments no longer.

–E.M. Forster, Howard’s End

…Midway through life’s journey,
I found myself in a dark wood,
For the straight path had been lost.

 How hard it is to say
What a thing that forest was;
So savage, stark, and drear —
The very thought renews the fear.

–Inferno, Canto I

…With these words he prayed, and grasped the altar.
Then the priestess began to speak:

Godlike Aeneas, Son of Troy…

Easy, easy is the way to deepest Hell;
Night and day the gates of eternal Dis lie open;
But to rise again, to seek the light —
There is the challenge; there is the task.”

Aeneid, Book VI

 It’s always night, or we wouldn’t need light.

–Thelonious Monk

If you open your eyes, your whole body will be full of light.

–Gospel of Luke


[He] stooped down and wrote with his finger in the dust.  But when they continued to question him he stood up and said: Let the one of you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone… And again he stooped down and wrote in the dust.

–Gospel of John; trans., Richmond Lattimore

The facts, even when beaded on a chain, still did not have real order. Events did not flow. The facts were separate and haphazard and random even as they happened, episodic, broken, no smooth transitions, no sense of events unfolding from prior events–

–Tim O’Brien, Going After Cacciato

“…Strange friend,” I said, “Here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said the other, “Save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.”

–Wilfred Owen, Strange Meeting

Teach us to care and not to care;
Teach us to sit still.

–T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

…The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream.


Brightness falls from the air,
Queens have died young and fair…

–Thomas Nashe

Now let us speak of bodies transformed into other bodies.

Ovid, Metamorphoses


And then it seemed to him that as in his dream… the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


You are my heir: all that I had and might have had I leave to you.


Fall if you will, but rise you must.

–James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

Beauty is momentary in the mind —
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.

The body dies; the body’s beauty lives.
So evenings die, in their green going,
A wave, interminably flowing.

–Wallace Stevens


Love is of the earth only,
the surface, a map of roads
leading wherever…

So, the world happens twice–
Once what we see it as;
Second it legends itself
deep, the way it is.

William Stafford  TC mark


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  • prufrock

    Thank you for this.

  • Anonymous

    Had me at Tim O’Brien, nailed it at Tolkien.

    • Oliver Miller


  • B. Frank

    “We swoon with the thickness of our own tongue when we say, ‘I love you’ … We are but a skin about a wind, with muscles clenched against mortality. We sleep in a long reproachful dust against ourselves. We are full to the gorge with our own names for misery. Life, the pastures in which the night feeds and prunes the cud that nourishes us to despair. Life, the permission to know death. We were created that the earth might be made sensible of her inhuman taste; and love that the body might be so dear that even the earth should roar with it. Yes, we who are full to the gorge with misery should look well around, doubting everything seen, done, spoken, precisely because we have a word for it, and not its alchemy.”—Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

  • http://twitter.com/robwoh Robert Wohner

    Wait. . .is this an actual thing people do? It’s awesome. It makes me want to read more so I can make my own. 

    Okay. Here’s a quote for the journey. This was on the back of my favorite book growing up, The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods. It was either written by the author, Ann Cameron, or an intern at her publishing company. Either way, I love it! 

    “There are some things in your life you can’t change – and others you can.” 

    • Oliver Miller

      It’s an actual thing that we do now, smiling emoticon.

  • B. Frank

    “Now he understood that a man never knows for whom he suffers and hopes. He suffers and hopes and toils for people he will never know, and who, in turn, will suffer and hope and toil for others who will not be happy either, for man always seeks a happiness far beyond that which is meted out to him. But man’s greatness consists in the very fact of wanting to be better than he is. In laying duties upon himself.”—Alejo Carpentier, The Kingdom of This World

  • http://twitter.com/robwoh Robert Wohner

    I’m not sure why this got me so excited. But here’s another one. It’s from the end of Steinbeck’s Canary Row but I think it was translated from Sanskirt. I love it!

    “Even now

    My eyes that hurry to see no more are painting, painting

    Faces of my lost girl. O golden rings

    That tap against cheeks of small magnolia-leaves,

    O whitest so soft parchment where

    My poor divorced lips have written excellent

    Stanzas of kisses, and will write no more.”

  • Jsturow

    “Something tastes different, maybe it’s my tongue. Something tastes different; suddenly I’m not so young” -Ingrid Michaelson, from her song “Die Alone

  • Dottedlinedolores

    Isn’t it “Surrender, Surrender, but don’t give yourself away”? 

    Either way, I loved this, again. Volume 2 may be the winner for me, though, if only for Wallace Stevens.

    • Oliver Miller

      Oh.  I always screw up the easy quotes!  Well, I like my lyrics better anyway.

    • Sara

       I thought I was going crazy…thank you for affirming my sanity.   :)

  • Tonivitanza

    I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him
    with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say
    yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew
    him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart
    was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

  • Anonymous

    “You’re not a moron. You’re only a case of arrested development.” 
    – Chapter 6, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

  • Anonymous

    “You’re not a moron. You’re only a case of arrested development.” 
    – Chapter 6, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

  • Makahlig

    If any boyfriend quoted James Joyce to me I’m pretty sure I would never be able to let them go. 
    Marry me Oliver?

    • Oliver Miller

      I wrote my thesis on Joyce, yo.  …And as always, all marriage proposers are directed to use my email address in my bio.

  • Victoria

    “I could only choose between the bull that would take me back and the bull that would take me forward. And so I walked on.”
    -Cheryl Strayed

  • Joycenancy

    “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” – Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25301618 Carolina Carvajal

    Looking forward to volume 3!

  • meh

    Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

    Aleister Crowley

  • MC

    The reader, the thinker, the loiterer, the flaneur, are types of illuminati just as
    much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. And more profane. Not to mention that most terrible
    drug—ourselves—which we take in solitude.
    ~Walter Benjamin

  • Anonymous

    we came whirling
    out of nothingness
    scattering stars
    like dust

    turning and turning
    it sunders
    all attachment

    every atom
    turns bewildered

    beggars circle tables
    dogs circle carrion
    the lover circles
               his own heart

  • SallySparrow

    ‘Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew
    Wanted to know what the River knew
    For they were young and the Thames was old,
    And this is the tale that the River told.
    -Rudyard Kipliing, “The River’s Tale”‘

  • rose georgia

    my favourite quotation from the aeneid (i think, but don’t hold me to it) comes from the somewhat unfashionable book x, partly because its beautiful and horrible poignant, and partly because it has my favourite latin word in it.

    transiit et parmam mucro, levia arma minacis,
    et tunicam, molli mater quam neverat auro,
    implevit sinum sanguis; tum vita per auras
    concessit maesta ad manis corpusque reliquit.

    • rose georgia

      oh man that sounded pretentious

      • Oliver Miller

        Quo ruis moriture?  Que audes majora viribus?

  • Ali

    “art is long, and time is fleeting
    and our hearts, though stout and brave
    still like muffled drum, are beating
    funeral marches to the grave”
    -Herbert Longellow

  • Yuliya

    The literary mix tape is lovely and if someone gave this to me I would be smitten.  And yet another part of me would have to wonder why there is only one female writer on this list.  

    • Anonymous

      Maybe because the written word has been around since, what?, the 12th/13th century, and women were very very very rarely authors before the 19th, giving a 600-year head start to males? And even then, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century when equal amounts of women produced notable work as men. So yeah, the chances that he finds a suitable quote in a female-authored piece is slightly less. Not sure why you’d immediately jump to the conclusion that this was a premeditated preclusion of women.

      • Oliver Miller

        The written word has been around since 6000 B.C., but yeah.  Less chick writers, historically.

    • Oliver Miller

      I had more chicks in the other ones, I think.

  • Guest

    “But suddenly I make one last gesture of rebellion and start to howl: the slaughter of doves! To live is a luxury.”

    -The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector

  • Rach Elle


    All i want it for someone to make me a literary mix tape…
    lets date

  • Claire

    You know, I never open again any great book I’ve read and loved. It hurts me to think of the other eyes that have read it and of what they were. Things like that can’t be shared. Not with people like that. 

    – Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

    • Oliver Miller

      No-ooo.  No ho ho ho.  No “Fountainhead,” please.

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