29+ quotes from Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy

Quotes from Cities of the Plain

Cormac McCarthy ·  292 pages

Rating: (16.7K votes)


“Our waking life's desire to shape the world to our convenience invites all manner of paradox and difficulty.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“He sat a long time and he thought about his life and how little of it he could ever have foreseen and he wondered for all his will and all his intent how much of it was his doing.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“The man smiled at him a sly smile. As if they knew a secret between them, these two. Something of age and youth and their claims and the justice of those claims. And of their claims upon them. The world past, the world to come. Their common transciencies. Above all a knowing deep in the bone that beauty and loss are one.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Maybe it's like Mac says. Ever man winds up with the horse that suits him.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“I didn't mean I'd seen everything, John Grady said.
I know you didn't.
I just meant I'd seen some things I'd as soon not of.
I know it. There's hard lessons in this world.
What's the hardest?
I dont know. Maybe it's just that when things are gone they're gone. They aint comin back.
Yessir.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“This place aint the same. It never will be. Maybe we've all got a little crazy. I guess if everbody went crazy together nobody would notice, what do you think?”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“It looks a lot better from up here than it does down there, dont it?
Yes. It does.
There's a lot of things look better at a distance.
Yeah?
I think so. I guess there are. The life you've lived, for one.
Yeah. Maybe what of it you aint lived yet, too.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Every man's death is standing in for every other. And since death comes to all there is no way to abate the fear of it except to love the man who stands for us.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“The hardest lesson in the world:
Maybe it's just that when things are gone they're gone. They aint comin back.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“in dreams it is often the case that the greatest extravagances seem bereft of their power to astonish and the most improbable chimeras seem commonplace.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Maybe. Anyway, some men get what they want.

No man. Or perhaps only briefly so as to lose it. Or perhaps only to prove to the dreamer that the world of his longing made real is no longer that world at all. ”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Men imagine that the choices before them are theirs to make. But we are free to act only upon what is given. Choice is lost in the maze of generations and each act in that mazeis itself an enslavement for it voids every alternate and binds one ever more tightly in to the constraints that make a life.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“He asked her out and she told him she wouldnt go out with a man that drank. He looked her straight in the eye and told her he didnt drink. She like to fell over backwards. I guess it come as somethin of a shock to her to meet a even bigger liear than what she was. But he told the naked truth. Of course she called hishand on it. Said she knew for a fact he drank. Said everbody in Jeff Davis County knew he drank and drank plenty and was wild as a buck. He never batted a eye. Said he used to but he quit. She asked him when did he quit and he said I just now did. And she went out with him. And as far as I know he never took another drink. Till she quit him of course. By then he had a lot of catchin up to do. Tell me about the evils of liquor. Liquor aint nothin. But he was changed from that day.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Yet it is the narrative that is the life of the dream while the events themselves are often interchangeable. The events of the waking world on the other hand are forced upon us and the narrative is the unguessed axis along which they must be strung.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“A dream inside a dream might not be a dream.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“My daddy once told me that some of the most miserable people he ever knew were the ones that finally got what they’d always wanted.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“When you’re a kid you have these notions about how things are goin to be, Billy said. You get a little older and you pull back some on that. I think you just wind up tryin to minimize the pain. Anyway this country aint the same. Nor anything in it. The war changed everthing. I dont think people even know it yet.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“The immappable world of our journey. A pass in the mountains. A bloodstained stone. The marks of steel upon it. Names carved in the corrosible lime among stone fishes and ancient shells. Things dimmed and dimming. The dry sea floor. The tools of migrant hunters. The dreams encased upon the blades of them. The peregrine bones of a prophet. The silence. The gradual extinction of rain. The coming of night.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“You call forth the world which God has formed and that world only. Nor is this life of yours by which you set such store your doing, however you may choose to tell it. Its shape was forced in the void at the onset and all talk of what might otherwise have been is senseless for there is no otherwise. Of what could it be made? Where be hid? Or how make its appearance? The probability fo the actual is absolute. That we have no power to guess it out beforehand makes it no less certain. That we may imagine alternate histories means nothing at all.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“The martyr who longs for the flames can be no right candidate for them.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“If we do not know ourselves in the waking world, what chance in dreams?”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“All his early dreams were the same. Something was afraid and he had come to comfort it.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Every man’s death is a standing in for every other. And since death comes to all there is no way to abate the fear of it except to love that man who stands for us. We are not waiting for his history to be written. He passed here long ago. That man who is all men and who stands in the dock for us until our own time come and we must stand for him. Do you love him, that man? Will you honor the path he has taken? Will you listen to his tale?”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Love makes men foolish. I speak as a victim myself. We are taken out of our own care and then it remains to be seen only if fate will show to us some share of mercy. Or little. Or none.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“where all is known, no narrative is possible.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“the child would ask him questions about the world that for him was not even a memory. He thought hard how to answer. There is no past.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“A man was coming down the road driving a donkey piled high with firewood. In the distance the churchbells had begun. The man smiled at him a sly smile. As if they knew a secret between them, these two. Something of age and youth and their claims and the justice of those claims. And of the claims upon them. The world past, the world to come. Their common transiencies. Above all a knowing deep in the bone that beauty and loss are one.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Those who cannot see must rely upon what has gone before. If I do not wish to appear so foolish as to drink from an empty glass I must remember whether I have drained it or not.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


“Satan hath power to assume a pleasing form. Them big blue eyes. Knew more ways to turn a man's head than the devil's grandmother. I dont know where they learn it at. Hell, she wasnt but seventeen.”
― Cormac McCarthy, quote from Cities of the Plain


About the author

Cormac McCarthy
Born place: in Providence, Rhode Island, The United States
Born date July 20, 1933
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