15 March, 2013

Quotable Friday (2)

 I love reading quotations. Whether they’re funny, wise or poignant, I love those snapshots into the human mind; I love the beauty of language. There aren’t always easy ways to crowbar great passages from novels or thoughtful quotations into ordinary blog posts, so on Fridays I’m going to let them speak for themselves. No deep thoughts, no fancy attempts to unpick hidden meanings – just snippets of our beautiful language I’ve come across that I’ve fallen in love with. I’d love to know what you think of them.

Today's quote is from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. A man who used to be a preacher has been asked to say grace by the family who have invited him to eat with them. He's uncomfortable at the request and goes off into a rambling speech about why he no longer calls himself a preacher.

“I ain't sayin' I'm like Jesus," the preacher went on. "But I got tired like Him, an' I got mixed up like Him, an' I went into the wilderness like Him, without no campin' stuff. Nighttime I'd lay on my back an' look up at the stars; morning I'd set an' watch the sun come up; midday I'd look out from a hill at the rollin' dry country; evenin' I'd foller the sun down. Sometimes I'd pray like I always done. On'y I couldn' figure out what I was prayin' to or for. There was the hills, an' there was me, an' we wasn't separate no more. We was one thing. An' that one thing was holy...An' I got thinkin', on'y it wasn't thinkin', it was deeper down than thinkin'. I got thinkin' how we was holy when we was one thing, and' mankin' was holy when it was one thing. An' it on'y got unholy when mis'able little fella got the bit in his teeth an' run off his own way, kickin' and draggin' and fightin'. Fella like that bust the holiness. But when they're all workin' together, no one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang -- that's right, that's holy. An' then I got to thinkin' I don't even know what I mean by holy...I can't say no grace like I use' ta say. I'm glad of the holiness of breakfast. I'm glad there's love here. That's all.”


  1. I think that about sums up the whole shebang perfectly! And the simplicity of the character's voice somehow elevates the sentiment, because it becomes a personal insight anyone can come to.

    1. Many people don't like The Grapes of Wrath but I am just in love with Steinbeck's prose. Stuff like this - and a hundred other examples just in that one book - show why he's a Nobel Laureate. It astonishes me how somebody can make dialect so easy to read and so full of impact. He can make the rambling thoughts of an old man strangely beautiful and you get the feeling he could've done that whatever the old man had said!


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