Fiction and non-fiction, prose and poetry; I’m equally happy borrowing (or stealing) ideas, themes and words from either one. This list is constantly changing, depending on what I’ve read recently. These are some of the mainstays.
Neil Aitken: http://www.neil-aitken.com/
Robert Frost http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/192
When asked to reveal the hidden meaning of his poems, Robert Frost’s response was “If I wanted you to know I’d had told you in the poem.”
Samuel Beckett https://www.msu.edu/~sullivan/Beckett4Poems.html
“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.”
Walt Whitman http://www.whitmanarchive.org/
“One hour to madness and joy! O furious! O confine me not!
(What is this that frees me so in storms?
What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds mean?)
O to drink the mystic deliria deeper than any other man!
O savage and tender achings! (I bequeath them to you my children,
I tell them to you, for reasons, O bridegroom and bride.)
O to be yielded to you whoever you are, and you to be yielded to me
in defiance of the world!
O to return to Paradise! O bashful and feminine!
O to draw you to me, to plant on you for the first time the lips of
a determin’d man.
O the puzzle, the thrice-tied knot, the deep and dark pool, all
untied and illumin’d!
O to speed where there is space enough and air enough at last!
To be absolv’d from previous ties and conventions, I from mine and
you from yours!
To find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the best of Nature!
To have the gag remov’d from one’s mouth!
To have the feeling to-day or any day I am sufficient as I am.
O something unprov’d! something in a trance!
To escape utterly from others’ anchors and holds!
To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous!
To court destruction with taunts, with invitations!
To ascend, to leap to the heavens of the love indicated to me!
To rise thither with my inebriate soul!
To be lost if it must be so!
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom!
With one brief hour of madness and joy.”
Prose – Fiction:
Tana French – In the Woods and The Likeness http://www.tanafrench.com/
“There’s a Spanish proverb,” he said, “that’s always fascinated me. “Take what you want and pay for it, says God.’” “I don’t believe in God,” Daniel said, “but that principle seems, to me, to have a divinity of its own; a kind of blazing purity. What could be simpler, or more crucial? You can have anything you want, as long as you accept that there is a price and that you will have to pay it.”
Ted Chiang - Story of Your Life http://smallbeerpress.com/books/2010/10/19/stories-of-your-life-and-others/
“A volume like the Book of Ages is a logical impossibility, for the precise reason that its existence would result in the above contradiction. Or, to be generous, some might say that the Book of Ages could exist, as long as it wasn’t accessible to readers: the volume is housed in a special collection, and no one has viewing priveleges.
The existence of free will meant that we couldn’t know the future. And we knew free will existed because we had direct experience of it. Volition was an intrinsic part of consiousness.
Or was it? What if the experience of knowing the future changed a person? What if it evoked a sense of urgency, a sense of obligation to act precisely as she knew she would? ”
Somerset Maugham – Collected Short Stories http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Somerset_Maugham
“It’s no use crying over spilt milk, because all of the forces of the universe were bent on spilling it.”
Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre
“Conventionality is not morality.”
Prose – non fiction:
Born to Run http://www.chrismcdougall.com/
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
Beak of the Finch http://jonathanweiner.com/books.html
‘We can no longer picture the story of life as slow and almost static, a worldview for which the chief emblem of evolutionary change is a fossil in a stone. What we must picture instead is an emblem of life in motion. For all species, including our own, the true future of life is a perching bird, a passerine, alert and nervous in every part, ready to dart off in an instant. Life is always poised for flight. From a distance it looks still, silhouetted against the bright sky or the dark ground; but up close it is flitting this way and that, as if displaying to the world at every moment its perpetual readiness to take off in any of a thousand directions.’
Between a Rock and a Hard Place http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/08/0830_040830_aronralston.html
“We are not grand because we are at the top of the food chain or because we can alter our environment – the environment will outlast us with its unfathomable forces and unyielding powers. But rather than be bound and defeated by our insignificance, we are bold because we exercise our will anyway, despite the ephemeral and delicate presence we have in this desert, on this planet, in this universe.”
National Geographic http://www.nationalgeographic.com/