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…

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…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  Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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