--Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who indeed knows why there can be comfort in a world of desolation? Now God be thanked that there is a beloved one who can lift up the heart in suffering, that one can play with a child in the face of such misery. Now God be thanked that the name of a hill is such music, that the name of a river can heal. Aye, even the name of a river that runs no more.
Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who knows for what we live, and struggle and die? Who knows what keeps us living and struggling, while all things break about us? Who knows why the warm flesh of a child is such comfort, when one's own child is lost and cannot be recovered? Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand. But this, the purpose of our lives, the end of all our struggle, is beyond all human wisdom.
--Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country
I was wrong. I admit it. I believed that there were things which still mattered just because they had mattered once. But I was wrong. Nothing matters but breath, breathing, to know and to be alive.
--William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!
A screaming comes across the sky.
--Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
So that is marriage, Lily thought, a man and a woman looking at a girl throwing a ball.
--Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse
On Hearing Of A Death
We lack all knowledge of this parting. Death
does not deal with us. We have no reason
to show death admiration, love or hate;
his mask of feigned tragic lament gives us
a false impression. The world's stage is still
filled with roles which we play. While we worry
that our performances may not please,
death also performs, although to no applause.
But as you left us, there broke upon this stage
a glimpse of reality, shown through the slight
opening through which you dissapeared: green,
evergreen, bathed in sunlight, actual woods.
We keep on playiing, still anxious, our difficult roles
declaiming, accompanied by matching gestures
as required. But your presence so suddenly
removed from our midst and from our play, at times
overcomes us like a sense of that other
reality: yours, that we are so overwhelmed
and play our actual lives instead of the performance,
forgetting altogehter the applause.
--Rainer Maria Rilke