Vulture Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Vulture. Here they are! All 100 of them:

I once saw a snake having sex with a vulture, and I thought, It’s just business as usual in Washington DC.
Jarod Kintz (The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They're Over.)
If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.
Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire)
I decided a long time ago I would feed on the vultures until a dove came along. A pigeon. The kind of soul that didn't impede on anyone; just walked around worrying about its own business, trying to get through life without pulling everyone else down. With its own needs and selfish habits. Brave. A communicator. Intelligent. Beautiful. Soft-spoken. A creature that mates for life. Unattainable until she has a reason to trust you.
Jamie McGuire (Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2))
Harrowhark said, in the exact sepulchral tones of Marshal Crux: “Death first to vultures and scavengers.
Tamsyn Muir (Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1))
Here is a list of terrible things, The jaws of sharks, a vultures wings The rabid bite of the dogs of war, The voice of one who went before, But most of all the mirror's gaze, Which counts us out our numbered days.
Clive Barker (Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War)
My father was a vulture. My mother was a magpie. My oldest brother is a crow. My sister, a sparrow. I have never really been a bird." Lila resisted the urge to say he might have been a peacock. It didn't seem the time.
Victoria Schwab (A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2))
If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves,
Caitlin Doughty (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory)
I will love you if I never see you again, and I will love you if I see you every Tuesday. I will love you as the starfish loves a coral reef and as kudzu loves trees, even if the oceans turn to sawdust and the trees fall in the forest without anyone around to hear them. I will love you as the pesto loves the fettuccini and ats the horseradish loves the miyagi, and the pepperoni loves the pizza. I will love you as the manatee loves the head of lettuce and as the dark spot loves the leopard, as the leech loves the ankle of a wader and as a corpse loves the beak of the vulture. I will love you as the doctor loves his sickest patient and a lake loves its thirstiest swimmer. I will love you as the beard loves the chin, and the crumbs love the beard, and the damp napkin loves the crumbs, and the precious document loves the dampness of the napkin, and the squinting eye of the reader loves the smudged document, and the tears of sadness love the squinting eye as it misreads what is written. I will love you as the iceberg loves the ship, and the passengers love the lifeboat, and the lifeboat loves the teeth of the sperm whale, and the sperm whale loves the flavor of naval uniforms. I will love you as a drawer loves a secret compartment, and as a secret compartment loves a secret, and as a secret loves to make a person gasp... I will love you until all such compartments are discovered and opened, and all the secrets have gone gasping into the world. I will love you until all the codes and hearts have been broken and until every anagram and egg has been unscrambled. I will love you until every fire is extinguished and rebuilt from the handsomest and most susceptible of woods. I will love you until the bird hates a nest and the worm hates an apple. I will love you as we find ourselves farther and farther from one another, where once we were so close... I will love you until your face is fogged by distant memory. I will love you no matter where you go and who you see, I will love you if you don't marry me. I will love you if you marry someone else--and i will love you if you never marry at all, and spend your years wishing you had married me after all. That is how I will love you even as the world goes on its wicked way.
Lemony Snicket (The Beatrice Letters)
Sophie: "For the Create-A-Tale Competition, your story ended with Snow White eaten by vultures and Cinderella drowning her-self in a tub." Agatha: "I thought it was a better ending.
Soman Chainani (The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1))
…but there they lay, sprawled across the field, craved far more by the vultures than by wives.
Homer (The Iliad)
I will love you with no regard to the actions of our enemies or the jealousies of actors. I will love you with no regard to the outrage of certain parents or the boredom of certain friends. I will love you no matter what is served in the world’s cafeterias or what game is played at each and every recess. I will love you no matter how many fire drills we are all forced to endure, and no matter what is drawn upon the blackboard in blurry, boring chalk. I will love you no matter how many mistakes I make when trying to reduce fractions, and no matter how difficult it is to memorize the periodic table. I will love you no matter what your locker combination was, or how you decided to spend your time during study hall. I will love you no matter how your soccer team performed in the tournament or how many stains I received on my cheerleading uniform. I will love you if I never see you again, and I will love you if I see you every Tuesday. I will love you if you cut your hair and I will love you if you cut the hair of others. I will love you if you abandon your baticeering, and I will love you if you if you retire from the theater to take up some other, less dangerous occupation. I will love you if you drop your raincoat on the floor instead of hanging it up and I will love you if you betray your father. I will love you even if you announce that the poetry of Edgar Guest is the best in the world and even if you announce that the work of Zilpha Keatley Snyder is unbearably tedious. I will love you if you abandon the theremin and take up the harmonica and I will love you if you donate your marmosets to the zoo and your tree frogs to M. I will love you as a starfish loves a coral reef and as a kudzu loves trees, even if the oceans turn to sawdust and the trees fall in the forest without anyone around to hear them. I will love you as the pesto loves the fettuccini and as the horseradish loves the miyagi, as the tempura loves the ikura and the pepperoni loves the pizza. I will love you as the manatee loves the head of lettuce and as the dark spot loves the leopard, as the leech loves the ankle of a wader and as a corpse loves the beak of the vulture. I will love you as the doctor loves his sickest patient and a lake loves its thirstiest swimmer. I will love you as the beard loves the chin, and the crumbs love the beard, and the damp napkin loves the crumbs, and the precious document loves the dampness in the napkin, and the squinting eye of the reader loves the smudged print of the document, and the tears of sadness love the squinting eye as it misreads what is written. I will love you as the iceberg loves the ship, and the passengers love the lifeboat, and the lifeboat loves the teeth of the sperm whale, and the sperm whale loves the flavor of naval uniforms. i will love you as a child loves to overhear the conversations of its parents, and the parents love the sound of their own arguing voices, and as the pen loves to write down the words these voices utter in a notebook for safekeeping. I will love you as a shingle loves falling off a house on a windy day and striking a grumpy person across the chin, and as an oven loves malfunctioning in the middle of roasting a turkey. I will love you as an airplane loves to fall from a clear blue sky and as an escalator loves to entangle expensive scarves in its mechanisms. I will love you as a wet paper towel loves to be crumpled into a ball and thrown at a bathroom ceiling and as an eraser loves to leave dust in the hairdos of people who talk too much. I will love you as a cufflink loves to drop from its shirt and explore the party for itself and as a pair of white gloves loves to slip delicately into the punchbowl. I will love you as the taxi loves the muddy splash of a puddle and as a library loves the patient tick of a clock.
Lemony Snicket
John Galt is Prometheus who changed his mind. After centuries of being torn by vultures in payment for having brought to men the fire of the gods, he broke his chains—and he withdrew his fire—until the day when men withdraw their vultures.
Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
A giant vulture with a girl hanging from its feet tends to attract attention.
Rick Riordan (The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, #1))
Who but the artist has the power to open man up, to set free the imagination? The others - priest, teacher, saint, statesman, warrior - hold us to the path of history. They keep us chained to the rock, that the vultures may eat out our hearts. It is the artist who has the courage to go against the crowd; he is the unrecognized "hero of our time" - and of all time.
Henry Miller (Stand Still Like the Hummingbird)
US General Mathew Ridgeway was speaking about “Operation Vulture”. He said, “When the day comes for me to meet my maker and account for my actions, the thing that I would be most proud of is the fact that I fought against and perhaps totally prevented the carrying out of one of the most hare-brained tactical schemes that would have cost the lives of thousands upon thousands of men!” (A Gracious Enemy & After the War Volume Two)
Michael G. Kramer
God help thee, old man, thy thoughts have created a creature in thee; and he whose intense thinking thus makes him a Prometheus; a vulture feeds upon that heart forever; the vulture the very creature he creates.
Herman Melville (Moby-Dick or, The Whale)
Despicable creatures, vultures: without a doubt the most disgusting birds ever. I suppose they served their purpose, but did they have to be so greasy and ugly? Couldn't we have cute fuzzy rabbits that cleaned up roadkill instead?
Rick Riordan (The Throne of Fire (The Kane Chronicles, #2))
The people come to understand that wealth is not the fruit of labour but the result of organised, protected robbery. Rich people are no longer respectable people; they are nothing more than flesh eating animals, jackals and vultures which wallow in the people's blood.
Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth)
A world without huge regions of total wilderness would be a cage; a world without lions and tigers and vultures and snakes and elk and bison would be - will be - a human zoo. A high-tech slum.
Edward Abbey (Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast)
Man's hope can paint a purple picture, can transform a soaring vulture into a noble eagle or moaning dove.
Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man)
Vultures are the most righteous of birds: they do not attack even the smallest living creature.
Plutarch
India is constipated with a lot of humbug. Take religion. For the Hindu, it means little besides caste and cow-protection. For the Muslim, circumcision and kosher meat. For the Sikh, long hair and hatred of the Muslim. For the Christian, Hinduism with a sola topee. For the Parsi, fire-worship and feeding vultures. Ethics, which should be the kernel of a religious code, has been carefully removed.
Khushwant Singh (Train to Pakistan)
He groaned slightly and winced like Prometheus watching his vulture dropping in for lunch.
P.G. Wodehouse (Big Money)
Vultures are difficult to charm unless you’re off somewhere rotting in the noonday sun. Casually rotting…a glib cadaver.
Carrie Fisher (The Princess Diarist)
But you can't kill humans It's-- Evil? The world is evil Risika. Wolves hunt the stragglers in a group of deer. Vultures devour the fallen.Hyenas destroy the weak. Humans kill that which they fear. Survive and be strong, or die, cornered by your prey, trembling because the night is dark.
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
The jogger sighed. He pulled out his phone and my eyes got big, because it glowed with a bluish light. When he extended the antenna, two creatures began writhing around it-green snakes, no bigger than earthworms. The jogger didn't seem to notice. He checked his LCD display and cursed. "I've got to take this. Just a sec ..." Then into the phone: "Hello?" He listened. The mini-snakes writhed up and down the antenna right next to his ear. Yeah," the jogger said. "Listen-I know, but... I don't care if he is chained to a rock with vultures pecking at his liver, if he doesn't have a tracking number, we can't locate his package....A gift to humankind, great... You know how many of those we deliver-Oh, never mind. Listen, just refer him to Eris in customer service. I gotta go.
Rick Riordan (The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2))
You've gone and sewn me to this bed, The taste of you and me, Will never leave my lips again, Under the blinding rain, I wanna hold your hand so tight, I'm gonna break my wrist, And when the vultures sing tonight, I'm gonna join right in.
Pierce the Veil
she thinks we‟re both of the same species, but vultures don‟t make friends with hummingbird
Anne Eliot (Unmaking Hunter Kennedy)
Those aren't girls. They're vultures.
Katie McGarry (Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2))
Brother Preptil, the master of the music, had described Brutha's voice as putting him in mind of a disappointed vulture arriving too late at the dead donkey.
Terry Pratchett (Small Gods (Discworld, #13))
Time has no meaning. I feel as if I have been left in the desert to die and am eagerly awaiting the vultures to begin their work and end my misery.
Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1))
Death first to vultures and scavangers.
Tamsyn Muir (Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1))
Nothing stops when we’re gone,” Lydia said. “The seasons don’t stop. This river doesn’t stop. Vultures will keep flying in circles. The lives of the people we love won’t stop. Time keeps unspooling. Stories keep getting written.
Jeff Zentner (The Serpent King)
Other letters simply relate the small events that punctuate the passage of time: roses picked at dusk, the laziness of a rainy Sunday, a child crying himself to sleep. Capturing the moment, these small slices of life, these small gusts of happiness, move me more deeply than all the rest. A couple of lines or eight pages, a Middle Eastern stamp or a suburban postmark . . . I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay.
Jean-Dominique Bauby (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
I cling unto the burning Æthyr like Lucifer that fell through the Abyss, and by the fury of his flight kindled the air. And I am Belial, for having seen the Rose upon thy breast, I have denied God. And I am Satan! I am Satan! I am cast out upon a burning crag! And the sea boils about the desolation thereof. And already the vultures gather, and feast upon my flesh.
Aleister Crowley (The Vision and the Voice: With Commentary and Other Papers (Equinox IV:2))
I tried – and failed – to imagine Dr Bairstow chuckling. Sometimes when he was pleased, he did display the satisfaction of an elderly vulture unexpectedly encountering a dead donkey. But chuckling …
Jodi Taylor (A Second Chance (The Chronicles of St Mary's #3))
Shut up, Four!” she says, and I want to yell back that I’m as frustrated as she is, with an Erudite vulture analyzing  my every move, searching for my weak points so he can hit them as hard as he can.
Veronica Roth (Free Four: Tobias Tells the Divergent Knife-Throwing Scene (Divergent, #1.5))
He looked like a vulture dissatisfied with its breakfast corpse.
P.G. Wodehouse (Plum Pie (Jeeves, #13.5))
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art! Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes. Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart, Vulture, whose wings are dull realities? How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise? Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies, Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing? Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car? And driven the Hamadryad from the wood To seek a shelter in some happier star? Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood, The Elfin from the green grass, and from me The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
Edgar Allan Poe
The vulture Nekhbet, who'd one possessed my gran (long story); the crocodile Sobek, who'd tried to kill my cat (longer story); and the lion goddess Sekhmet, whom we'd once vanished in hot sauce ( don't even ask) - page 9
Rick Riordan (The Serpent's Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, #3))
An original thought would crack your feeble skull like a thunderbolt, you craven vulture.
Christopher Moore (Fool)
Anyone smart enough to accomplish what they have should know better than to risk everything by talking to the vultures in the media.
Ernest Cline (Ready Player One)
I stayed silent. I realised that when I had seen all those suitors clamour in the hall for Helen, I had believed they were there because they loved her, but I had been wrong. They hated her. They hated her because she was so beautiful and because she made them want her so much. Nothing brought them more joy than the fall of a lovely woman. They picked over her reputation like vultures, scavenging for every scrap of flesh they could devour.
Jennifer Saint (Elektra)
To business."Tux Dude extended his hand. "I am Prometheus." I was too surprised to shake."The fire-stealer guy?The chained-to-the-rock-with-the-vultures guy?" Prometheus winced. He touched the scratches on his face."Please, don't mention the vultures. But yes, I stole fire from the gods and gave it to your ancestors. In return, the ever merciful Zeus had me chained to a rock and tortured for all eternity.
Rick Riordan (The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5))
La ora când mă visam vultur, am avut probleme mai urgente, care m-au transformat în cârtiţă.
Octavian Paler
There were many odd things about human beings. They thought insects were disgusting but felt lucky when a ladybird landed on their fingers. They detested rats but loved squirrels. While they found vultures repulsive, they thought eagles impressive. They despised mosquitoes and flies, but were fond of fire-flies. Even though copper and iron were medicinally important, it was gold that they worshipped instead. They took no notice of the stones under their feet but went mad for polished gems.
Elif Shafak (Honor)
His eye was like the eye of a vulture, the eye of one of those terrible birds that watch and wait while an animal dies, and then fall upon the dead body and pull it to pieces to eat it.
Edgar Allan Poe (The Tell-Tale Heart)
Writers are also sort of like vultures, but with fewer ethics.
Libba Bray
When I realized I was hovering at the centre of a giant glowing purple vulture, my first thought was: Carter will never stop teasing me about this.
Rick Riordan (The Crown of Ptolemy (Demigods & Magicians, #3))
Predator and prey move in silent gestures, on the seductive dance of death, in the shadows cast by the vultures of the night. ☥
Luis Marques (Asetian Bible)
অদ্ভুত আঁধার এক এসেছে এ-পৃথিবীতে আজ, যারা অন্ধ সবচেয়ে বেশি আজ চোখে দেখে তারা; যাদের হৃদয়ে কোনো প্রেম নেই—প্রীতি নেই—করুণার আলোড়ন নেই পৃথিবী অচল আজ তাদের সুপরামর্শ ছাড়া। যাদের গভীর আস্থা আছে আজো মানুষের প্রতি এখনো যাদের কাছে স্বাভাবিক ব'লে মনে হয় মহৎ সত্য বা রীতি, কিংবা শিল্প অথবা সাধনা শকুন ও শেয়ালের খাদ্য আজ তাদের হৃদয়। A strange darkness has come upon the world today. They who are most blind now see, Those whose hearts lack love, lack warmth, lack pity's stirrings, Without their fine advice, the world today dare not make a move. They who yet possess an abiding faith in man, To whom still now high truths or age-old customs, Or industry or austere effort all seem natural, Their hearts are victuals for the vulture and the jackal. Translated by: Clinton B. Seely
Jibanananda Das (বনলতা সেন)
The Kikuyu, when left to themselves, do not bury their dead, but leave them above ground for the hyenas and vultures to deal with. The custom had always appealed to me, I thought that it would be pleasant thing to be laid out to the sun and the stars, and to be so promptly, neatly, and openly picked and cleansed; to be made one with Nature and become a common component of a landscape.
Karen Blixen (Out of Africa)
Setne stopped chanting when he saw me. ‘Awesome!’ He grinned. ‘You brought the vulture with you. Thanks!’ Not the reaction I’d been hoping for. I keep waiting for the day when the bad guy sees me and screams, I give up! But it hasn’t happened yet.
Rick Riordan (The Crown of Ptolemy (Demigods & Magicians, #3))
Patience will be on our side.” “I once heard that patience is a vulture in wait to take out its prey when all seems safe.
Cyndi Goodgame (Denial (Goblin's Kiss Series, # 1))
Vultures devour the fallen. Hyenas destroy the weak. Humans kill that which they fear. Survive and be strong, or die, cornered by your prey, trembling because the night is dark.
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (In the Forests of the Night)
It would be wrong to describe Fennel as courageous as it would be wrong to describe a leopard as courageous.It runs when it can but when cornered turns to be one of the dangerous and vicious of all jungle beasts. The vulture is a patient bird. James hadley chase.
James Hadley Chase
Now…I live and breathe weirdness. It goes with the territory when you’re a demigod. But there are still moments when I do a mental double take: like when I’m flying upward inside a giant glowing vulture, flapping my arms to control make-believe wings, holding an almost-immortal magician in my talons…all so I can steal his hat.
Rick Riordan (The Crown of Ptolemy (Demigods & Magicians, #3))
In the world men seem to exercise power, but all of that comes to nothing in the face of the lust provoked by a woman. Whatever he does to her, she is still more powerful than he is because he wants her, he needs her, he is being driven by a desire for her. In the sexual woman-superior model, power is articulated as being intrinsically female because power is redefined beyond reason, beyond coherence: as if power is in the corpse that draws the vultures.
Andrea Dworkin (Right-Wing Women)
Grinning at her sister's haste, Pandora cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted after them in her best imitation of Lady Berwick, "Ladies do not gallop like chaise horses!" Cassandra's reply floated back from a distance, "Ladies do not screech like vultures!
Lisa Kleypas (Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3))
I've always believed that most sentient creatures like to be recognized. Whether we are gods, people or slavering ghouls in vulture-feather loincloths, we enjoy others knowing who we are, speaking our names, appreciating that we exist.
Rick Riordan (The Tyrant’s Tomb (The Trials of Apollo, #4))
Who will you be when faced with the end? The end of a kingdom, The end of good men, Will you run? Will you hide? Or will you hunt down evil with a venomous pride? Rise to the ashes, Rise to the winter sky, Rise to the calling, Make heard the battle cry. Let it scream from the mountains From the forest to the chapel, Because death is a hungry mouth And you are the apple. So who will you be when faced with the end? When the vultures are circling And the shadows descend Will you cower? Or will you fight? Is your heart made of glass? Or a pure Snow White?
Lily Blake (Snow White & the Huntsman)
My eyes registered a shadow above our heads. A large black and white bird of prey with a red head. “Look,” I panted. “There’s your spirit animal. A vulture.” Remo stopped and laughed. A real laugh. Not dark, taunting, or cruel. “Good to know you find me that repulsive.
Cora Reilly (Twisted Pride (The Camorra Chronicles, #3))
I want to know: Why is a horse noble and the dove beloved but no one keeps a pet vulture in a gilded cage. Why is the humble clover trodden upon rather than the red tulip. I want to see anew and wash the words of the world in wind and rain.
Sohrab Sepehri (The Oasis of Now: Selected Poems (Lannan Translations Selection Series))
Dust webbed the window and the showtrays. Dust darkened the toiling fingers with their vulture nails. Dust slept on dull coils of bronze and silver, lozenges of cinnabar, on rubies, leprous and winedark stones.
James Joyce (Ulysses)
I will love you no matter how many mistakes I make when trying to reduce fractions, and no matter how difficult it is to memorize the periodic table.I will love you as the manatee loves the head of lettuce and as the dark spot loves the leopard, as the leech loves the ankle of a wader and as a corpse loves the beak of the vulture. I will love you as the iceberg loves the ship, and the passengers love the lifeboat, and the lifeboat loves the teeth of the sperm whale, and the sperm whale loves the flavour of naval uniforms. I never want to be away from you again, except at work, in the restroom or when one of us is at a movie the other does not want to see.
Lemony Snicket (The Beatrice Letters)
I am naturally a Nordic — a chalk-white, bulky Teuton of the Scandinavian or North-German forests — a Viking berserk killer — a predatory rover of Hengist and Horsa — a conqueror of Celts and mongrels and founders of Empires — a son of the thunders and the arctic winds, and brother to the frosts and the auroras — a drinker of foemen's blood from new picked skulls — a friend of the mountain buzzards and feeder of seacoast vultures — a blond beast of eternal snows and frozen oceans — a prayer to Odin and Thor and Woden and Alfadur, the raucous shouter of Niffelheim — a comrade of the wolves, and rider of nightmares
H.P. Lovecraft
So not every person fits into the little rooms we build to hold them. There are infinite combinations of human and inhuman, male and female, brown and white.
Lila Bowen (Wake of Vultures (The Shadow, #1))
Wings are of many kinds. Butterfly's wings, vulture's wings, eagle-wings, spread wings of white swans, dragonfly's serene wings, wings of albatross, lovely wings of humming birds, tiny wings of a fly or a bumble-bee-wings; and when they fly, they fly their best according to their ability of flying. We should not underestimate the size of those heavenly wings.
Munia Khan
Well, for starters, you only wear black.” “Because it doesn’t get dirty.” “You don’t ever leave your house.” “People don’t look at me there.” “For the Create-a-Tale Competition, your story ended with Snow White eaten by vultures and Cinderella drowning herself in a tub.” “I thought it was a better ending.
Soman Chainani (The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1))
The poor are always crossing the Sahara. And the lawyers and bondsmen and all that crowd circle around the poor, exactly like vultures. Of course, they’re not any richer than the poor, really, that’s why they’ve turned into vultures, scavengers, indecent garbage men, and I’m talking about the black cats, too, who, in so many ways, are worse.
James Baldwin (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Honestly, I'm not sure how much longer I can keep doing this. It's like there are seven candles lit in my stomach. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Seven candles burning and smoking - lit - seven flames of doubt, fear, sorrow, pain, waste, hopelessness, despair. They turn my insides black with soot and ash. There is something at the back of my eyes- a pressure building, building, building - hot like the flames of seven candles, which no amount of breath can extinguish. I imagine drinking glasses of water. One, two, three four, five, six, seven. I dive into the clearest pool. I drown myself in the coarse, dry sand. I swallow handfuls of crushed white salt, but the flames burn still - brighter, hotter, deeper. Sweat runs in delicate patterns down my back, over my crooked spine and jutting hips. I scratch at the wounds these last weeks have left, but I can't break free of them. The flies gather and vultures circle overhead. The fire eats away my flesh. The fire spreads. The fire runs through my veins. The fire courses beneath my muscles - my tendons - the marrow of my bones. I sit rocking on the street corner. No, I can't keep doing this. I just can't.
Nic Sheff (Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines)
I'd felt the pop of the needle sliding into my veins, like a fang into flesh. I'd been enveloped in the golden haze where nothing is wrong even when everything is falling apart. A dance with a hypodermic fiend, my hands in the claws of a vulture.
Taylor Rhodes (Sixteenth Notes: the breaking of the rose-colored glasses)
You and I once fancied ourselves birds, and we were happy even when we flapped our wings and fell down and bruised ourselves, but the truth is that we were birds without wings. You were a robin ad I was a blackbird, and there were some who were eagles, or vultures, or pretty goldfinches, but none of us had wings. For birds with wings nothing changes; they fly where they will and they know nothing about borders and their quarrels are very small. But we are always confined to earth, no matter how much we climb to the high places and flap our arms. Because we cannot fly, we are condemned to do things that do not agree with us. Because we have no wings we are pushed into struggles and abominations that we did not seek, and then, after all that, the years go by, the mountains are levelled, the valleys rise, the rivers are blocked by sand and the cliffs fall into the sea.
Louis de Bernières (Birds Without Wings)
We make our journey in the company of others; the deer, the rabbit, the bison, and the quail walk before us, and the lion, the eagle, the wolf, the vulture, and the hyena walk behind us. All our paths lie together in the hand of god and none is wider than any other or favored above any other. The worm that creeps beneath your foot is making its journey across the hand of god as surely as you are.
Daniel Quinn
The Aristocrat The Devil is a gentleman, and asks you down to stay At his little place at What'sitsname (it isn't far away). They say the sport is splendid; there is always something new, And fairy scenes, and fearful feats that none but he can do; He can shoot the feathered cherubs if they fly on the estate, Or fish for Father Neptune with the mermaids for a bait; He scaled amid the staggering stars that precipice, the sky, And blew his trumpet above heaven, and got by mastery The starry crown of God Himself, and shoved it on the shelf; But the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn't brag himself. O blind your eyes and break your heart and hack your hand away, And lose your love and shave your head; but do not go to stay At the little place in What'sitsname where folks are rich and clever; The golden and the goodly house, where things grow worse for ever; There are things you need not know of, though you live and die in vain, There are souls more sick of pleasure than you are sick of pain; There is a game of April Fool that's played behind its door, Where the fool remains for ever and the April comes no more, Where the splendour of the daylight grows drearier than the dark, And life droops like a vulture that once was such a lark: And that is the Blue Devil that once was the Blue Bird; For the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn't keep his word.
G.K. Chesterton (The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, Volume 10: Collected Poetry, Part 1)
Bellow "Tell the range and all that's howling, the flickers of life beyond the weeds, the vulture's furrowed brow of flight, the blasted sticky Canadian lawn thistle; tell the clowned-out clouds and the rain, and all that makes you go quiet again, tell them that you didn't come here to make a fuss, or break, or growl, or scream; tell them-crazy sky and stars between-tell them you didn't come to disturb the night air and throw a fit, then get down in the dark and do it.
Ada Limon (Bright Dead Things)
And when they asked us where we were from, we exchanged glances and smiled with the shyness of child brides. They said, Africa? We nodded yes. What part of Africa? We smiled. Is it that part where vultures wait for famished children to die? We smiled. Where the life expectancy is thirty-five years? We smiled? Is is there where dissidents shove AK-47s between women's legs? We smiled. Where people run about naked? We smiled. That part where they massacred each other? We smiled. Is it where the old president rigged the election and people were tortured and killed and a whole bunch of them put in prison and all, there where they are dying of cholera - oh my God, yes, we've seen your country; it's been on the news.
NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names)
For Love, to which we may now return, has two faces; one white, the other black; two bodies; one smooth, the other hairy. It has two hands, two feet, two tails, two, indeed, of every member and each one is the exact opposite of the other. Yet, so strictly are they joined together that you cannot separate them. In this case, Orlando’s love began her flight towards him with her white face turned, and her smooth and lovely body outwards. Nearer and nearer she came wafting before her airs of pure delight. All of a sudden (at the sight of the Archduchess presumably) she wheeled about, turned the other way round; showed herself black, hairy, brutish; and it was Lust the vulture, not Love, the Bird of Paradise that flopped, foully and disgustingly, upon his shoulders. Hence he ran; hence he fetched the footman.
Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
Prunesquallor, as urbane as ever, had nevertheless something in his fish-like eyes that might almost be described as determination. One glance at his sister was sufficient to make him realize that to attempt to reason with her would be about as fruitful as to try to christianize a vulture.
Mervyn Peake (Titus Groan (Gormenghast, #1))
But the future is unknown, and stands before a man like autumnal fogs rising from the swamps; birds fly foolishly up and down in it with flapping wings, never recognizing each other, the dove seeing not the vulture, nor the vulture the dove, and no one knowing how far he may be flying from destruction.
Nikolai Gogol
She was ugly, was all they'd told her. But she didn't find them beautiful, so what did it matter?
Lila Bowen (Wake of Vultures (The Shadow, #1))
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees – very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
Edgar Allan Poe (The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings)
The tinker in his burial tree was a wonder to the birds. The vultures that came by day to nose with their hooked beaks among his buttons and pockets like outrageous pets soon left him naked of his rags and flesh alike. Black mandrake sprang beneath the tree as it will where the seed of the hanged falls and in spring a new branch pierced his breast and flowered in a green boutonnière perennial beneath his yellow grin. He took the sparse winter snows upon what thatch of hair still clung to his dried skull and hunters that passed that way never chanced to see him brooding among his barren limbs. Until wind had tolled the thinker's bones and seasons loosed them one by one to the ground below and his bleached and weathered brisket hung in that lonesome wood like a bone birdcage.
Cormac McCarthy (Outer Dark)
Carter wagged the Yankees cap at me. ‘Nekhbet wants Percy to be her host. That’s one way the Egyptian gods maintain a presence in the mortal world. They can inhabit mortals’ bodies.’ My stomach jackknifed. ‘You want her –’ I pointed at the frazzled old vulture goddess – ‘to inhabit me? That sounds …’ I tried to think of a word that would convey my complete disgust without offending the goddess. I failed.
Rick Riordan (The Crown of Ptolemy (Demigods & Magicians, #3))
Vain is your boast in that you have scratched the sole of my foot... A worthless coward can inflict but a light wound. When I wound a man, though I but graze his skin, it is another matter, for my weapon will lay him low. His wife will tear her cheeks out for grief and his children will be fatherless: there he will rot, reddening the earth with his blood, and vultures, not women, will gather round him.
Homer (Iliad)
His large ears Hear everything A hermit wakes And sleeps in a hut Underneath His gaunt cheeks. His eyes blue, alert, Disappointed, And suspicious, Complain I Do not bring him The same sort of Jokes the nurses Do. He is a bird Waiting to be fed,— Mostly beak— an eagle Or a vulture, or The Pharoah's servant Just before death. My arm on the bedrail Rests there, relaxed, With new love. All I know of the Troubadours I bring to this bed. I do not want Or need to be shamed By him any longer. The general of shame Has discharged Him, and left him In this small provincial Egyptian town. If I do not wish To shame him, then Why not love him? His long hands, Large, veined, Capable, can still Retain hold of what He wanted. But Is that what he Desireed? Some Powerful engine Of desire goes on Turning inside his body. He never phrased What he desired, And I am his son.
Robert Bly (Selected Poems)
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded –with what caution –with what foresight –with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it –oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly –very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! –would a madman have been so wise as this? And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously –oh, so cautiously –cautiously (for the hinges creaked) –I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights –every night just at midnight –but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.
Edgar Allan Poe (The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings)
He knew by heart every individual clump of bunch grass in the miles of red shaggy prairie that stretched before his cabin. He knew it in all the deceitful loveliness of its early summer, in all the bitter barrenness of its autumn. He had seen it smitten by all the plagues of Egypt. He had seen it parched by drought, and sogged by rain, beaten by hail, and swept by fire, and in the grasshopper years he had seen it eaten as bare and clean as bones that the vultures have left. After the great fires he had seen it stretch for miles and miles, black and smoking as the floor of hell.
Willa Cather (The Troll Garden and Selected Stories)
Now observe that in all the propaganda of the ecologists—amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for “harmony with nature”—there is no discussion of man’s needs and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the ecologists envision—i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears.... In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire. It is not merely symbolic that fire was the property of the gods which Prometheus brought to man. The ecologists are the new vultures swarming to extinguish that fire.
Ayn Rand (The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution)
I receive remarkable letters. They are opened for me, unfolded, and spread out before my eyes in a daily ritual that gives the arrival of the mail the character of a hushed and holy ceremony. I carefully read each letter myself. Some of them are serious in tone, discussing the meaning of life, invoking the supremacy of the soul, the mystery of every existence. And by a curious reversal, the people who focus most closely on these fundamental questions tend to be people I had known only superficially. Their small talk has masked hidden depths. Had I been blind and deaf, or does it take the harsh light of disaster to show a person's true nature? Other letters simply relate the small events that punctuate the passage of time: roses picked at dusk, the laziness of a rainy Sunday, a child crying himself to sleep. Capturing the moment, these small slices of life, these small gusts of happiness, move me more deeply than all the rest. A couple of lines or eight pages, a Middle Eastern stamp or a suburban postmark... I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay.
Jean-Dominique Bauby (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
The history of man is simply the history of slavery, of injustice and brutality, together with the means by which he has, through the dead and desolate years, slowly and painfully advanced. He has been the sport and prey of priest and king, the food of superstition and cruel might. Crowned force has governed ignorance through fear. Hypocrisy and tyranny—two vultures—have fed upon the liberties of man. From all these there has been, and is, but one means of escape—intellectual development. Upon the back of industry has been the whip. Upon the brain have been the fetters of superstition. Nothing has been left undone by the enemies of freedom. Every art and artifice, every cruelty and outrage has been practiced and perpetrated to destroy the rights of man. In this great struggle every crime has been rewarded and every virtue has been punished. Reading, writing, thinking and investigating have all been crimes. Every science has been an outcast. All the altars and all the thrones united to arrest the forward march of the human race. The king said that mankind must not work for themselves. The priest said that mankind must not think for themselves. One forged chains for the hands, the other for the soul. Under this infamous regime the eagle of the human intellect was for ages a slimy serpent of hypocrisy. The human race was imprisoned. Through some of the prison bars came a few struggling rays of light. Against these bars Science pressed its pale and thoughtful face, wooed by the holy dawn of human advancement. Bar after bar was broken away. A few grand men escaped and devoted their lives to the liberation of their fellows.
Robert G. Ingersoll (The Liberty Of Man, Woman And Child)
Like a god, like an ogre? The personification of the natural is exactly the tendency I wish to suppress in myself, to eliminate for good. I am here not only to evade for a while the clamor and filth and confusion of the cultural apparatus but also to confront, immediately and directly if it's possible, the bare bones of existence, the elemental and fundamental, the bedrock which sustains us. I want to be able to look at and into a juniper tree, a piece of quartz, a vulture, a spider, and see it as it is in itself, devoid of all humanly ascribed qualities, anti-Kantian, even the categories of scientific description. To meet God or Medusa face to face, even if it means risking everything human in myself. I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a non-human world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock.
Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire)
There was a barber and his wife and she was beautiful... a foolish barber and his wife. She was his reason for his life... and she was beautiful, and she was virtuous. And he was naive. There was another man who saw that she was beautiful... A biased vulture of the law who, with a gesture of his claw removed the barber from his plate! And there was nothing but to wait! And she would fall! So soft! So young! So lost and oh so beautiful! Antony (spoken) The lady, sir...did she succumb? Sweeney Todd (sung) Ah, that was many years ago... I doubt if anyone would know. (spoken) Now leave me, Antony. There is somewhere I must go, something i must find out. Now, and alone. Antony (spoken) But surely we will meet again before I am off to Plymouth? Sweeney Todd (spoken) If you want you may well find me around Fleet Street. I wouldn't wander. (sung) There's a hole in the world like a great black pit and it's filled with people who are filled with shit! And the vermin of the world inhabit it!
Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
Where there are no bees there is no honey. Where there are no flowers there is no perfume. Where there are no clouds there is no rain. Where there are no stars there is no light. Where there are no roses there are no thorns. Where there are no skies there are no stars. Where there are no storms there are no rainbows. Where there are no animals there are no forests. Where there are no plants there are no jungles. Where there are no seeds there are no harvests. Where there are no spiders there are no webs. Where there are no ants there are no colonies. Where there are no worms there are no fish. Where there are no mice there are no serpents. Where there are no carcasses there are no vultures. Where there are no stones there are no pebbles. Where there are no rocks there are no mountains. Where there are no deserts there are no oases. Where there are no stars there are no galaxies. Where there are no worlds there are no universes.
Matshona Dhliwayo
The perturbations, anxieties, depravations, deaths, exceptions in the physical or moral order, spirit of negation, brutishness, hallucinations fostered by the will, torments, destruction, confusion, tears, insatiabilities, servitudes, delving imaginations, novels, the unexpected, the forbidden, the chemical singularities of the mysterious vulture which lies in wait for the carrion of some dead illusion, precocious & abortive experiences, the darkness of the mailed bug, the terrible monomania of pride, the inoculation of deep stupor, funeral orations, desires, betrayals, tyrannies, impieties, irritations, acrimonies, aggressive insults, madness, temper, reasoned terrors, strange inquietudes which the reader would prefer not to experience , cants, nervous disorders, bleeding ordeals that drive logic at bay, exaggerations, the absence of sincerity, bores, platitudes, the somber, the lugubrious, childbirths worse than murders, passions, romancers at the Courts of Assize, tragedies,-odes, melodramas, extremes forever presented, reason hissed at with impunity, odor of hens steeped in water, nausea, frogs, devilfish, sharks, simoon of the deserts, that which is somnambulistic, squint-eyed, nocturnal, somniferous, noctambulistic, viscous, equivocal, consumptive, spasmodic, aphrodisiac, anemic, one-eyed, hermaphroditic, bastard, albino, pederast, phenomena of the aquarium, & the bearded woman, hours surfeited with gloomy discouragement, fantasies, acrimonies, monsters, demoralizing syllogisms, ordure, that which does not think like a child, desolation, the intellectual manchineel trees, perfumed cankers, stalks of the camellias, the guilt of a writer rolling down the slope of nothingness & scorning himself with joyous cries, that grind one in their imperceptible gearing, the serious spittles on inviolate maxims, vermin & their insinuating titillations, stupid prefaces like those of Cromwell, Mademoiselle de Maupin & Dumas fils, decaying, helplessness, blasphemies, suffocation, stifling, mania,--before these unclean charnel houses, which I blush to name, it is at last time to react against whatever disgusts us & bows us down.
Comte de Lautréamont (Chants de Maldoror (French Edition))
Once she called to invite me to a concert of Liszt piano concertos. The soloist was a famous South American pianist. I cleared my schedule and went with her to the concert hall at Ueno Park. The performance was brilliant. The soloist's technique was outstanding, the music both delicate and deep, and the pianist's heated emotions were there for all to feel. Still, even with my eyes closed, the music didn't sweep me away. A thin curtain stood between myself and pianist, and no matter how much I might try, I couldn't get to the other side. When I told Shimamoto this after the concert, she agreed. "But what was wrong with the performance?" she asked. "I thought it was wonderful." "Don't you remember?" I said. "The record we used to listen to, at the end of the second movement there was this tiny scratch you could hear. Putchi! Putchi! Somehow, without that scratch, I can't get into the music!" Shimamoto laughed. "I wouldn't exactly call that art appreciation." "This has nothing to do with art. Let a bald vulture eat that up, for all I care. I don't care what anybody says; I like that scratch!" "Maybe you're right," she admitted. "But what's this about a bald vulture? Regular vultures I know about--they eat corpses. But bald vultures?" In the train on the way home, I explained the difference in great detail.The difference in where they are born, their call, their mating periods. "The bald vulture lives by devouring art. The regular vulture lives by devouring the corpses of unknown people. They're completely different." "You're a strange one!" She laughed. And there in the train seat, ever so slightly, she moved her shoulder to touch mine. The one and only time in the past two months our bodies touched.
Haruki Murakami (South of the Border, West of the Sun)
I will love you with no regard to the actions of our enemies or the jealousies of actors. I will love you with no regard to the outrage of certain parents or the boredom of certain friends. I will love you no matter what is served in the world’s cafeterias or what game is played at each and every recess. I will love you no matter how many fire drills we are all forced to endure, and no matter what is drawn upon the blackboard in a blurring, boring chalk. I will love you no matter how many mistakes I make when trying to reduce fractions, and no matter how difficult it is to memorize the periodic table. I will love you no matter what your locker combination was, or how you decided to spend your time during study hall. I will love you no matter how your soccer team performed in the tournament or how many stains I received on my cheerleading uniform. I will love you if I never see you again, and I will love you if I see you every Tuesday. I will love you if you cut your hair and I will love you if you cut the hair of others. I will love you if you abandon your baticeering, and I will love you if you retire from the theater to take up some other, less dangerous occupation. I will love you if you drop your raincoat on the floor instead of hanging it up and I will love you if you betray your father. I will love you even if you announce that the poetry of Edgar Guest is the best in the world and even if you announce that the work of Zilpha Keatley Snyder is unbearably tedious. I will love you if you abandon the theremin and take up the harmonica and I will love you if you donate your marmosets to the zoo and your tree frogs to M. I will love you as the starfish loves a coral reef and as kudzu loves trees, even if the oceans turn to sawdust and the trees fall in the forest without anyone around to hear them. I will love you as the pesto loves the fetuccini and as the horseradish loves the miyagi, as the tempura loves the ikura and the pepperoni loves the pizza. I will love you as the manatee loves the head of lettuce and as the dark spot loves the leopard, as the leech loves the ankle of a wader and as a corpse loves the beak of the vulture. I will love you as the doctor loves his sickest patient and a lake loves its thirstiest swimmer. I will love you as the beard loves the chin, and the crumbs love the beard, and the damp napkin loves the crumbs, and the precious document loves the dampness in the napkin, and the squinting eye of the reader loves the smudged print of the document, and the tears of sadness love the squinting eye as it misreads what is written. I will love you as the iceberg loves the ship, and the passengers love the lifeboat, and the lifeboat loves the teeth of the sperm whale, and the sperm whale loves the flavor of naval uniforms. I will love you as a child loves to overhear the conversations of its parents, and the parents love the sound of their own arguing voices, and as the pen loves to write down the words these voices utter in a notebook for safekeeping. I will love you as a shingle loves falling off a house on a windy day and striking a grumpy person across the chin, and as an oven loves malfunctioning in the middle of roasting a turkey. I will love you as an airplane loves to fall from a clear blue sky and as an escalator loves to entangle expensive scarves in its mechanisms. I will love you as a wet paper towel loves to be crumpled into a ball and thrown at a bathroom ceiling and an eraser loves to leave dust in the hairdos of the people who talk too much. I will love you as a taxi loves the muddy splash of a puddle and as a library loves the patient tick of a clock. I will love you as a thief loves a gallery and as a crow loves a murder, as a cloud loves bats and as a range loves braes. I will love you as misfortune loves orphans, as fire loves innocence and as justice loves to sit and watch while everything goes wrong.
Lemony Snicket (The Beatrice Letters)
Milton's Eve! Milton's Eve! ... Milton tried to see the first woman; but Cary, he saw her not ... I would beg to remind him that the first men of the earth were Titans, and that Eve was their mother: from her sprang Saturn, Hyperion, Oceanus; she bore Prometheus" -- "Pagan that you are! what does that signify?" "I say, there were giants on the earth in those days: giants that strove to scale heaven. The first woman's breast that heaved with life on this world yielded the daring which could contend with Omnipotence: the stregth which could bear a thousand years of bondage, -- the vitality which could feed that vulture death through uncounted ages, -- the unexhausted life and uncorrupted excellence, sisters to immortality, which after millenniums of crimes, struggles, and woes, could conceive and bring forth a Messiah. The first woman was heaven-born: vast was the heart whence gushed the well-spring of the blood of nations; and grand the undegenerate head where rested the consort-crown of creation. ... I saw -- I now see -- a woman-Titan: her robe of blue air spreads to the outskirts of the heath, where yonder flock is grazing; a veil white as an avalanche sweeps from hear head to her feet, and arabesques of lighting flame on its borders. Under her breast I see her zone, purple like that horizon: through its blush shines the star of evening. Her steady eyes I cannot picture; they are clear -- they are deep as lakes -- they are lifted and full of worship -- they tremble with the softness of love and the lustre of prayer. Her forehead has the expanse of a cloud, and is paler than the early moon, risen long before dark gathers: she reclines her bosom on the ridge of Stilbro' Moor; her mighty hands are joined beneath it. So kneeling, face to face she speaks with God. That Eve is Jehova's daughter, as Adam was His son.
Charlotte Brontë (Shirley)
When he wrote back, he pretended to be his old self, he lied his way into sanity. For fear of his psychiatrist who was also their censor, they could never be sensual, or even emotional. His was considered a modern, enlightened prison, despite its Victorian chill. He had been diagnosed, with clinical precision, as morbidly oversexed, and in need of help as well as correction. He was not to be stimulated. Some letters—both his and hers—were confiscated for some timid expression of affection. So they wrote about literature, and used characters as codes. All those books, those happy or tragic couples they had never met to discuss! Tristan and Isolde the Duke Orsino and Olivia (and Malvolio too), Troilus and Criseyde, Once, in despair, he referred to Prometheus, chained to a rock, his liver devoured daily by a vulture. Sometimes she was patient Griselde. Mention of “a quiet corner in a library” was a code for sexual ecstasy. They charted the daily round too, in boring, loving detail. He described the prison routine in every aspect, but he never told her of its stupidity. That was plain enough. He never told her that he feared he might go under. That too was clear. She never wrote that she loved him, though she would have if she thought it would get through. But he knew it. She told him she had cut herself off from her family. She would never speak to her parents, brother or sister again. He followed closely all her steps along the way toward her nurse’s qualification. When she wrote, “I went to the library today to get the anatomy book I told you about. I found a quiet corner and pretended to read,” he knew she was feeding on the same memories that consumed him “They sat down, looked at each other, smiled and looked away. Robbie and Cecilia had been making love for years—by post. In their coded exchanges they had drawn close, but how artificial that closeness seemed now as they embarked on their small talk, their helpless catechism of polite query and response. As the distance opened up between them, they understood how far they had run ahead of themselves in their letters. This moment had been imagined and desired for too long, and could not measure up. He had been out of the world, and lacked the confidence to step back and reach for the larger thought. I love you, and you saved my life. He asked about her lodgings. She told him. “And do you get along all right with your landlady?” He could think of nothing better, and feared the silence that might come down, and the awkwardness that would be a prelude to her telling him that it had been nice to meet up again. Now she must be getting back to work. Everything they had, rested on a few minutes in a library years ago. Was it too frail? She could easily slip back into being a kind of sister. Was she disappointed? He had lost weight. He had shrunk in every sense. Prison made him despise himself, while she looked as adorable as he remembered her, especially in a nurse’s uniform. But she was miserably nervous too, incapable of stepping around the inanities. Instead, she was trying to be lighthearted about her landlady’s temper. After a few more such exchanges, she really was looking at the little watch that hung above her left breast, and telling him that her lunch break would soon be over.
Ian McEwan (Atonement)
Themes of descent often turn on the struggle between the titanic and the demonic within the same person or group. In Moby Dick, Ahab’s quest for the whale may be mad and “monomaniacal,” as it is frequently called, or even evil so far as he sacrifices his crew and ship to it, but evil or revenge are not the point of the quest. The whale itself may be only a “dumb brute,” as the mate says, and even if it were malignantly determined to kill Ahab, such an attitude, in a whale hunted to the death, would certainly be understandable if it were there. What obsesses Ahab is in a dimension of reality much further down than any whale, in an amoral and alienating world that nothing normal in the human psyche can directly confront. The professed quest is to kill Moby Dick, but as the portents of disaster pile up it becomes clear that a will to identify with (not adjust to) what Conrad calls the destructive element is what is really driving Ahab. Ahab has, Melville says, become a “Prometheus” with a vulture feeding on him. The axis image appears in the maelstrom or descending spiral (“vortex”) of the last few pages, and perhaps in a remark by one of Ahab’s crew: “The skewer seems loosening out of the middle of the world.” But the descent is not purely demonic, or simply destructive: like other creative descents, it is partly a quest for wisdom, however fatal the attaining of such wisdom may be. A relation reminiscent of Lear and the fool develops at the end between Ahab and the little black cabin boy Pip, who has been left so long to swim in the sea that he has gone insane. Of him it is said that he has been “carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro . . . and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps.” Moby Dick is as profound a treatment as modern literature affords of the leviathan symbolism of the Bible, the titanic-demonic force that raises Egypt and Babylon to greatness and then hurls them into nothingness; that is both an enemy of God outside the creation, and, as notably in Job, a creature within it of whom God is rather proud. The leviathan is revealed to Job as the ultimate mystery of God’s ways, the “king over all the children of pride” (41:34), of whom Satan himself is merely an instrument. What this power looks like depends on how it is approached. Approached by Conrad’s Kurtz through his Antichrist psychosis, it is an unimaginable horror: but it may also be a source of energy that man can put to his own use. There are naturally considerable risks in trying to do so: risks that Rimbaud spoke of in his celebrated lettre du voyant as a “dérèglement de tous les sens.” The phrase indicates the close connection between the titanic and the demonic that Verlaine expressed in his phrase poète maudit, the attitude of poets who feel, like Ahab, that the right worship of the powers they invoke is defiance.
Northrop Frye (Words with Power: Being a Second Study of the Bible and Literature)