Absorbed: Made Up Of Quotes

Sharing the quotes from books, poems and films that have been absorbed "bone deep".

A while ago, Imogen Russell Williams wrote about the very appealing idea that poetry lovers are “made up” of their favourite lines and phrases.  About poetry that has been “absorbed bone deep” to find itself called upon to help deal with difficult or intense emotional moments.

This image has stayed with me. So excuse me, reader, while I crack open my ribcage and pour out some of the quotes that I keep stored inside.

In  Alan Bennet’s The History Boys, Hector voices something that any literature lover will agree with:

The best moments in reading are when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours.

It’s incredible that by structuring a sentence, something that should be arbitrary can suddenly make sense to a reader in a way that the author never intended. Coincidently, this quote is one of the ones I feel ‘make’ me. In my meanderings through literature, I regularly am hit over the head by sentences that embed themselves there for years to come. Whenever this strikes me  I immediately have to document it somewhere. I scrawl it down in a notebook, go online and post it on my Tumblr or Twitter, surrounding myself instantly with the words to remember that moment; Yes. I understand. I feel that way too.
Take poetry. Whilst embarking upon the mess of T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land at uni, a simple short line revealed itself to me.
My feet are at Moorgate and my heart under my feet
Immediately I underlined, starred and highlighted this phrase, faced with ten words that I felt I should have already known. Although the setting of The Waste Land crosses centuries and landscapes  it is the “Unreal city” of the poem that Eliot returns to – to London, my home. I understood the line, could put myself right between it, getting off at any Underground stop after travelling away from home and being filled with the love and comfort of the familiar, my infatuation with my city, reflected in the work of another.
But you don’t only find your words in reading. You can hear them being spoken, watch them being performed right in front of you.
Sarah Kay, in her long-celebrated  “B” performance, suddenly acknowledges a part of me I thought would never be uncovered.


You’re just smelling for smoke,
so you can follow the trail back to a burning house
to find the boy who lost everything in the fire
to see if you can save him
or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place
to see if you can change him 
 Or Anis Mojgani in “Shake the Dust”, picking me up from my doubts, and brushing me off, informing me to
not let a second go by that does not remind you that your heart beats nine hundred times a day, and there are enough gallons of blood to make you an ocean. 
That advice seemed so perfectly moulded to fit around me that I hit the replay button and memorise the exact structure and rhythm, to repeat over and over to myself until I know it as well as it knows me.
Another is the tagline to the Wes Anderson film ‘The Royal Tenanbaums’. My family is not as quirky, eccentric or pastel toned as the Tenanbaums, but the tagline for the film seems such a perfect fit for my family, and how we relate to one another, that I may as well start making us all move in slow motion to an indie soundtrack (#filmreferences).
Family isn’t a word. It’s a sentence.
These are just a few examples of times that the thing that I’ve been interested in, be it literature, performance or films, suddenly giving me something in return. It is one of my favourite things about being aware and actively engaging myself with words. Being passive and uninvolved would mean missing out on this gift, on the moment of recognition.
To me, the sensation of a  “hand coming out and taking yours” will never become old, and I don’t intend to let it stop happening.

Bridie Wilkinson | @bridifer | Russian Novel