We all fall in love at least once in our lives – more than once if we are lucky, and certainly multiple times if we are readers. Even if we’re not quite so lucky romantically, we can all rely on literature to make our hearts skip a beat; every reader has experienced a moment when they have read something that if not makes them flutter and flustered, certainly sparks off a deep emotional connection that lasts a lifetime, striking the soul and becoming a landmark as fondly remembered as a first kiss.
To celebrate the day of love, Valentine’s Day (though we never need an excuse at The Reader Organisation to get loved up with literature), we’re presenting a selection of lines from novels and poetry that have made some of our staff fall head over heels in love. Some are more conventionally romantic than others, but all convey a very special sentiment – in the way that only literature can. Here’s Part 1 of our lovely lines; stay tuned for Part 2 coming tomorrow.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest
I’ll have to be honest now (at the fear of being hung, drawn and quartered) but I was first introduced to the poem The Good Morrow by John Donne when watching a film! Yes that’s right, I said FILM! It was about the love story of Tristan (one of King Arthur’s knights) and Isolde (an Irish Celtic Princess) which of course is a story that has been told for hundreds of years now. After finding this poem I then began to read more of his work, which I loved. This poem is perfect for the loved one in your life. You can also find this poem along with many more in our anthology Poems To Take Home. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Niall Gibney, Community Development Assistant
If I had to make a list of books that have a had a part to play in making me who I am , and telling me how I think, then Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte would absolutely feature up at the top.
In particular, in Chapter 9 there is a scene between the heroine, Catherine, and her maid Ellen (Nelly), which I have read over and over again during the past seven years that the book has been in my life. Cathy is defending her decision to marry the wealthy but exceedingly vacuous young man, Edgar Linton, instead of Heathcliff – her family’s fosterling and her childhood companion and apparent ‘soul-mate’, explaining that by marrying Edgar for his money, rather than for love, she hopes she will be able to do more good for Heathcliff than if she were to marry him. Her next lines are an unbelievably moving account of a ‘primal’ love, that goes beyond the material world:
‘It is not,’ retorted she; ‘it is the best! The others were the satisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar’s sake, too, to satisfy him. This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my feelings to Edgar and myself. I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don’t talk of our separation again: it is impracticable; and—’
I remember when I first read it, those lines where Cathy compares her different feelings towards the two men as being like ‘foliage’ and ‘rocks,’ incredibly powerful. And they still are: that sense of holding a love that is immovable, beyond doubt, and essential to everything you know of yourself and the world – well, let’s just say as an impressionable 16-year old, it gave me very high expectations of love! But as I re-read it now, there is so much in Cathy’s words that describes not just the state or feelings of being a ‘lover,’ but about the need we have, as human beings, to be driven beyond our selves. That ‘notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you’ seems incredibly important and true – something we all need in order to prevent the oppressive act of self-analysis and self-criticism, I think. I know that it is Valentine’s Day, and that this passage does seem to say lots of things about ‘being in love’ – but I am also struck now by how much of this I think is contained in other forms of human connection: in the gratification of a genuine and lasting friendship, say.
Charlotte Weber, Reader-in-Residence, Liverpool Hope University
There is a place where love begins and a place where love ends.
There is a touch of two hands that foils all dictionaries.
Two lines from Explanations of Love by Carl Sandberg, a poem I use a lot in my groups.
I love it that it acknowledges the mystery of love – it comes out of nowhere and can end just as suddenly and unexpectedly. And that we can’t explain it.
Valerie Nobbs, Project Worker, Idea Store Tower Hamlets, Get Into Reading London
“Do you know–I hardly remembered you?”
“Hardly remembered me?”
“I mean: how shall I explain? I–it’s always so. EACH
TIME YOU HAPPEN TO ME ALL OVER AGAIN.”
“Oh, yes: I know! I know!”
I’ve just spent an intensely pleasurable fifteen minutes trying to find my favourite lines from Edith Wharton’s The Age Of Innocence. I’m not up to the challenge. My favourite lines start on page one and they finish at the end of the book’s last chapter. I implore you to read this book.
Victoria Clarke, Project Worker, Get Into Reading Wirral
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
I would like to share my love for He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by W.B. Yeats, especially its beautiful ending, ‘Tread softly because you tread on my dreams’. It is a poem that I have read many, many times, but it only really came to life for me when I heard it read aloud in the soft, Aberystwyth accent of our very own Miss Casi Dylan. Absolutely delicious. I read it in a one to one session with a young person recently and after I’d finished reading it she told me ‘it makes me feel like I want to cry, but I don’t know why. It is very beautiful… I hope she’s nice to him!’
Sophie Povey, Assistant Development Manager
(also on Yeats…)
The poet’s skill in conjuring the vast loveliness of the skies makes his unrequited love the more poignant. Imagine someone writing this for you! How could she turn him down?
Amanda Brown, North West Regional Coordinator