THE PROFOUND, THE HEART GRIPPING, THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL: Inspired Words from Literature
“One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” —Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices
From the immortal words of Shakespeare to the poetry of Yeats; the tragic romance of Wuthering Heights to the terrifying beauty of Dracula, words continue to make our hearts beat a little faster, our lungs breathe in a little deeper, and our eyes see a little more clearly of all the deeper meaning that lies in every single moment of life. A good writer is extremely powerful. His or her ability to put ink on paper in such an order that our emotions are moved in several different directions--often in the very same page--as we sit in our favorite chair eagerly devouring the story is nothing short of miraculous. Words nourish us, hurt us, build us up, tear us down, make our hearts swell with love and romance or puncture with the most gut wrenching pain; words can leave us empty, in a puddle of our own tears while bystanding family members stand in wonder and confused dismay. I have finished books before and been left a complete wreck; I have looked around at the world and wondered, "How can everything continue on as normal, as if none of this story ever happened? Why isn't everyone else as heartbroken as I am right now? How can they smile?" I have also been left by a book thinking that life is more beauteous and amazing and miraculous than I have ever managed to notice before; that language is the same thing as art and that pages of what I just finished reading should be framed, and hung on the walls of the Getty and Louvre.
Marcus Zusak is telling us over and over in The Book Thief in that special, gorgeous, metaphorical way of his that words are the keys to power. Shakespeare knew it when he said "The pen is mightier than the sword." This Buzz Feed author who wrote the article in the link I am sharing with you knows it, too. Here, she has compiled what she claims are 51 of the most beautiful lines of literature. While I have no idea how anyone could narrow it down to 51, I have to agree that every one of these lines belongs on a list of this description. As I read some of them, I stopped, closed my eyes, and drank in the words like some sort of liquid nirvana. Does that sound crazy? I know what you're thinking: How does Mrs. Caraway get so excited about a specific arrangement of words in a sentence? Maybe I am a literature geek. If that's the label that means I am obsessed with words, their power, and a life-changing story, then I wear the label proudly. My cast (aka my Odyssey family) just finished their sixth performance of Romeo and Juliet, a performance of the words that Shakespeare organized in a script to tell an ancient story of violence and feudal hatred that is shot through the very heart by a love that transcends time. We can debate the historical fact about whether the story is completely true or not, but here is something I do know for a fact: The appeal of Romeo and Juliet isn't that it is real, but something about it is universal. It is what, in our hearts, we truly believe love to be: powerful, heartbreaking, beautiful. It's timeless. Every time I watched my cast perform, it was like I was watching it all for the first time. The words of this story clutched my heart, and they always will. Whether it's Shakespeare or Stroker, Whitman or Wilde, the words of a skilled word artist will do that to us time and time again. And you know what? Thank goodness they do. For when we are sitting in our favorite chair, drowning in a puddle of our own tears and torn hearts, cursing the writer for putting us in that condition while our family members look on bewildered and concerned, we know, in that moment, we are alive. We are human. We can feel the depths of sorrow and the limitlessness of joy. As a writer and a reader, I celebrate that.
Read through this list, pick a quote that speaks the loudest to you, and reflect on it. What does it mean? How does it speak to your heart? What do you love about it? THEN, (you are not done yet!) share a quote NOT on this list from a favorite book and tell us why you love it. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and don't ever stop believing....in the great and mighty power of words. http://www.buzzfeed.com/jenniferschaffer/i-am-i-am-i-am#.mdB5JA85Nw