1. “Through indiscriminate suffering, men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion.”

2. “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

3. “All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise, they would not be worshipped.”

4. “Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships.”

5. “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some, they come in with the tide. For others, they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the watcher turns his eyes away in resignation—his dreams mocked to death by time. That is the life of men.”

6. “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me.”

7. “Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.”

8. “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

9. “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

10. “I love myself when I am laughing, and then again when I am looking mean and impressive.”

11. “When God had made man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over.”

12. “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”

13. “I have known the joy and pain of friendship. I have served and been served. I have made some good enemies for which I am not a bit sorry. I have loved unselfishly, and I have fondled hatred with the red-hot tongs of Hell. That’s living.”

14. “If you can see the light at daybreak, you don’t care if you die at dusk. So many people have never seen the light at all.”

15. “Women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.”

16. “Love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”

17. “She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her.”

18. “Two things everybody’s got to do for themselves—they got to go to God, and they got to find out about living for themselves.”

19. “Bitterness is the coward’s on the world for having been hurt.”

20. “There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.”

21. “She didn’t read books so she didn’t know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop.”

22. “A thing is mighty big when time and distance cannot shrink it.”

23. “So she sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon it’s amber fluid was drenching the earth and quenching the thirst of the day.”

24. “Of course he wasn’t dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking.”

25. “She starched and ironed her face, forming it into just what people wanted to see.”

26. “Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now, but new words would have to be made and said to fit them.”

27. “The rose of the world was breathing out the smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep.”

28. “If writers were too wise, perhaps no books would get written at all.”

29. “The force of somewhere in space which commands you to write in the first place, gives you no choice.”

30. “You take up the pen when you are told, and write what is commanded. There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”

31. “Night came walking through Egypt swishing her black dress.”

32. “Truth is a letter from courage!”

33. “It was funny if you looked at it right quick, but it got pitiful if you thought about it awhile.”

34. “When the people sat around on the porch and passed around the pictures of their thoughts for the others to look at and see, it was nice. The fact that the thought pictures were always crayon enlargements of life made it even nicer to listen to.”

35. “The varicolored cloud dust that the sun has stirred up in the sky was settling by slow degrees.”

36. “They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughter. It was mass cruelty. A mood comes alive—words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song.”

37. “Perhaps I am just a coward who loves to laugh at life better than I do cry with it. But when I do get to crying, boy, I can roll a mean tear.”

38. “Sometimes, she stuck out into the future, imagining her life different from what it was.”

39. “Like the dead-seeming, cold rocks, I have memories within that came out of the material that went to make me. Time and place have had their say.”

40. “All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold. The Kings and Captains whose words moved ships, but not one word from the cargo. The thoughts of the black ivory, the coin of Africa, had no market value. Africa’s ambassadors to the New World have come and worked and died, and left their spoor, but no recorded thought.”

41. “Maybe if she had known some other way to try, she might have made his face different. But what the other way could be, she had no idea.”

42. “Being under my own roof and my personality not invaded by others, makes a lot of difference in my outlook on life and everything. Oh, to be once more alone in a house!”

43. “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”

44. “The sea was walking the earth with a heavy heel.”

45. “The present was too urgent to let the past intrude.”

46. “People are ugly from ignorance and broken from being poor.”

47. “The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance.”

48. “They bowed down to him, rather, because he was all of these things; and then again he was all of these things because the town bowed down.”

49. “It is very much better for them to climb the rocks in their bare clean feet and meet Him face to face in their search for the eternal in beauty.”

50. “Those that don’t get it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.”

51. “No hour is ever eternity, but it has its right to weep.”

52. “She had an inside and an outside now, and suddenly, she knew how not to mix them.”

53. “I have the nerve to walk my own way—however hard—in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.”

54. “I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all.”

55. “So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”

56. “If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other folks, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding.”

57. “Janie saw her life like a great tree in a leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.”

58. “Grown people know that they do not always know the way of things, and even if they think they know, they do not know where and how they got the proof.”

59. “He was the average mortal. It troubled him to get used to the world one way and then suddenly have it turn different.”

60. “People can be slave ships in shoes.”

61. “Anytime you catch folks lying, they are scared of something!”

62. “I will fight for my country, but I will not lie for her.”

63. “She wanted to struggle with life, but it seemed to elude her.”

64. “She was too busy feeling grief to dress like grief.”

65. “It seems that tears and laughter, love and hate, make up the sum of life!”

66. “Real slavery is couched in the desire and the efforts of any man or community to live and advance their interests at the expense of the lives and interests of others. All of the outward signs come out of that.”

67. “But any man who walks in the way of power and property is bound to meet hate.”

68. “Life, as it is, does not frighten me since I have made my peace with the universe as I find it, and bow to its laws.”

69. “When the consciousness we know as life ceases, I know that I shall still be part and parcel of the world.”

70. “But the inescapable fact that stuck in my craw was that my people had sold me and the white people had bought me. It impressed upon me the universal and glory.”

71. “For no matter how far a person can go, the horizon is still way beyond you.”

72. “Inside the expensive black folds were resurrection and life.”

73. “Our lives are so diversified, internal attitudes so varied, appearances and capabilities so different, that there is no possible classification so Catholic that it will cover us all, except my people! My people!”

74. “It’s a known fact that you got to go there to know there. Your papa and your mama and nobody else can’t tell you and show you.”

75. “Husbands and wives always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant.”

76. “John will never forsake the weak and the helpless, nor fail to bring hope to the hopeless. That is what they believe, and so they do not worry. They go on and laugh and sing. Things are bound to come out right tomorrow—that is the secret of Negro song and laughter.”

77. “You cannot have knowledge and worship at the same time.”

78. “It looked so quiet and peaceful around, but the stillness was the sleep of swords.”

79. “We will go where the internal drive carries us like everybody else. It is up to the individual.”

80. “It is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on.”

81. “But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands.”

82. “She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her.”

83. “Then you must tell ’em that love ain’t something like a grindstone. That’s the same thing everywhere and does the same thing to everything it touches.”

84. “It was the meanest moment of eternity.”

85. “There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, sees it from its own angle. So every man’s spice-box seasons his own food.”

86. “You heard me. You ain’t blind.”

87. “The morning air was like a new dress that made her feel the apron tied around her waist.”

88. “From now on until death, she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything.”

89. “My head was full of misty fumes of doubt.”

90. “The sun had become a light yellow yolk and was walking with legs across the sky.”

91. “My sense of humor will always stand in the way of my seeing myself, my family, my race, or my nation as the whole intent of the universe.”

92. “Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter—ever changing, ever moving, but never lost. So what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men?”

93. “At certain times, I have no race. I am me. I belong to no race or time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads.”

94. “The present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.”

95. “Her soul crawled out from its hiding place.”

96. “It is one of the blessings of this world that few people see visions and dream dreams.”

97. “Every morning, the world flung itself over and exposed the town to the sun.”

98. “Lack of power and opportunity passes off too often for virtue.”

99. “The springing line of morning out of the misty deep of dawn, is glory enough for me.”

100. “I know that nothing is destructible; things merely change forms.”

101. “I did not know then, as I know now, that people are prone to build a statue of the kind of person it pleases them to be.”

102. “Common danger made common friends.”

103. “The moon’s too pretty for anybody to be sleeping’ it away.”

104. “Jump at the sun. You might not land on the sun, but at least you’ll get off the ground.”

105. “I want a busy life, a just mind, and a timely death.”

106. “I’ve lived Grandma’s way, now it means to live mine.”

107. “Besides, she liked being lonesome for a change. This freedom feeling was fine. These men didn’t represent a thing she wanted to know about.”

108. “They sat on the boarding house porch and saw the sun plunge into the same crack in the earth from which the night emerged.”

109. “I don’t know any more about the future than you do. I hope that it will be full of work, because I have come to know by experience that work is the nearest thing to happiness that I can find.”

110. “They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against cruel walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His.”

111. “Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love.”

112. “I made up my mind to keep my feelings to myself since they did not seem to matter to anyone else but me.”

113. “The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall.”

114. “She saw sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight.”

115. “An envious heart makes a treacherous ear.”

116. “Love, I find, is like singing.”

117. “She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen.”

118. “There is nothing to make you like other human beings so much as doing things for them.”

119. “It seems to me that trying to live without friends is like milking a bear to get cream for your morning coffee. It is a whole lot of trouble, and then not worth much after you get it.”

120. “The spirit of the marriage left the bedroom and took to living in the parlor.”

121. “I have a strong suspicion, but I can’t be sure, that much that passes for constant love is a folded-up moment walking in its sleep.”

122. “How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

123. “When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners.”

124. “I do not choose to admit weakness. I accept the challenge of responsibility.”

125. “I would like just a little of her sunshine to soak into my soul. I would like that a lot.”

126. “It seemed to me that the human beings I met reacted pretty much the same to the same stimuli. Different idioms, yes. Circumstances and conditions having power to influence, yes. Inherent difference, no.”

127. “That though the heart is breaking, happiness can exist in a moment also. And because is all the time there really is, we can keep going.”

128. “Let the sun go down on you like King Harold at the battle of Hastings—fighting gloriously. Maybe a loser, but what a loser! Greater in defeat than the conqueror. Certainly not a coward that rusted out lurking in his tent.”

129. “She must talk to a man who was ten immensities away.”

130. “They seemed to be staring at the dark, but were watching God.”

131. “No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”

132. “Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder.”

133. “She began to stand around the gate and expect things. What things? She didn’t know exactly.”

134. “She knew the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether. She knew that God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up. It was wonderful to see it take form with the sun and emerge from the gray dust of its making.”

135. “Feeling a weakness in the face of great forces, men seek an alliance with omnipotence to bolster up their feeling of weakness—even though the omnipotence they rely upon is a creature of their own minds. It gives them a feeling of security.”

136. “Nothing that God ever made is the same thing to more than one person.”

137. “People need religion because the great masses fear life and its consequences.”

138. “Mystery is the essence of divinity.”

139. “The unreachable, and therefore, the unknowable always seems divine—hence, religion.”

140. “It seems to me to be true that heavens are because they are unreachable.”

141. “Sometimes, God gets familiar with us womenfolk too, and talks His inside business.”

142. “Prayer seems to me a cry of weakness, and an attempt to avoid, by trickery, the rules of the game as laid down.”

143. “I shall return with the earth to Father Sun, and still exist in substance when the sun has lost its fire, and disintegrated into infinity to perhaps become a part of the whirling rubble of space.”

144. “Gods always behave like the people who created them.”

145. “Anybody depending on somebody else’s gods is depending on not to eat chickens.”

146. “He looked like the love thoughts of women. He could be a bee to a blossom—a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps. Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took. Spices hung about him. He was a glance from God.”

147. “Light came to me when I realized that I did not have to consider any racial group as a whole. God made them duck by duck and that was the only way I could see them.”


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