Coping the quote
30+ quotes from March by Geraldine Brooks

Quotes from March

Geraldine Brooks ·  280 pages

Rating: (47.9K votes)


“For to know a man's library is, in some measure, to know his mind.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“To know a man's library is, in some measure, to know a man's mind.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“You go on. You set one foot in front of the other, and if a thin voice cries out, somewhere behind you, you pretend not to hear, and keep going.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I am not alone in this. I only let him do to me what men have ever done to women: march off to empty glory and hollow acclaim and leave us behind to pick up the pieces. The broken cities, the burned barns, the innocent injured beasts, the ruined bodies of the boys we bore and the men we lay with.

The waste of it. I sit here, and I look at him, and it is as if a hundred women sit beside me: the revolutionary farm wife, the English peasant woman, the Spartan mother-'Come back with your shield or on it,' she cried, because that was what she was expected to cry. And then she leaned across the broken body of her son and the words turned to dust in her throat.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“If a man is to lose his fortune, it is a good thing if he were poor before he acquired it, for poverty requires aptitude.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I realize that lust stands high in the list of deadly sins. And yet lust - the tightening of the throat, the flushed cheeks, the raging appetite - is the only word accurate to describe the sensation I felt that morning, as the painted door closed and I was left with the liberty of all those books.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“Instead of idleness, vanity, or an intellect formed by the spoon-feeding of others, my girls have acquired energy, industry, and independence.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“Who is the brave man--he who feels no fear? If so, then bravery is but a polite term for a mind devoid of rationality and imagination.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“The brave man, the real hero, quakes with terror, sweats, feels his very bowels betray him, and in spite of this moves forward to do the act he dreads.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“The great thing about being always among people of noble manners was the inevitable elevation of one's own.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I simply ask you to see that there is only one thing to do when we fall, and that is to get up, and go on with the life that is set in front of us, and try and do the good of which our hands are capable for all the people who come in our way...”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“No wonder simple men have always had their gods dwell in the high places. For as soon as a man lets his eye drop from the heavens to the horizon, he risks setting it on some scene of desolation.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I recognized the tokens of the time, because I had lived through just such another uneasy season, when every day was tainted by the foul breath of a fear that could not be faced forthrightly, yet could not be ignored.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“The two most sacred documents known to man are the Bible and the Declaration of Independence. Better that a whole generation of men, women, and children should pass away by violent death than a word of either should be violated in this country.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I have now traveled so far south that I find myself come to a place where our common expression “white as snow” has no useful meaning. Here, one who wishes his words to make plain sense had better say “white as cotton.” I will not say that I find the landscape lovely. We go on through Nature to God, and my Northern eye misses the grandeur that eases that ascent. I yearn for mountains, or at least for the gentle ridges of Massachusetts; the sweet folds and furrows that offer the refreshment of a new vista as each gap or summit is obtained. Here all is obvious, a song upon a single note. One wakes and falls asleep to a green sameness, the sun like a pale egg yolk, peering down from a white sky.
And the river! Water as unlike our clear fast-flowing freshets as a fat broody hen to a hummingbird. Brown as treacle, wider than a harbor, this is water sans sparkle or shimmer. In places, it roils as if heated below by a hidden furnace. In others, it sucks the light down and gives back naught but an inscrutable sheen that conceals both depth and shallows. It is a mountebank, this river. It feigns a gentle lassitude, yet coiled beneath are currents that have crushed the trunks of mighty trees, and swept men to swift drownings…”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I did note this, and set it down as yet one more of life’s injustices: that the man who has been wealthy is dunned more civilly than the fellow who has ever been poor. My creditors would come to me most graciously, diffident, if not downright apologetic, for asking what was theirs. It was as if I would be doing them a great, unlooked for kindness if only I would pay them a trifling sum on my outstanding debts. I would give them tea, and polite conversation, and, even when my answer to their just entreaty had to be a regretful, “Nothing, sir, ” my mortification was always entirely self-inflicted, for their civility never failed”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“Are there any two words in all of the English language more closely twinned than courage and cowardice? I do not think there is a man alive who will not yearn to possess the former and dread to be accused of the latter. One is held to be the apogee of man's character, the other its nadir. An yet, to me the two sit side by side on the circle of life, removed from each other by the merest degree of arc. (MARCH - Chapter 11 - page 168)”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“And now, a year has passed since I undertook to go to war, and I wake every day, sweating, in the solitude of the seed store at Oak Landing, to a condition of uncertainty. More than months, more than miles, now stand between me and that passionate orator perched on his tree-stump puplit. One day, I hope to go back. To my wife, to my girls, but also to the man of moral certainty that I was that day; that innocent man, who knew with such clear confidence exactly what it was that he was meant to do.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“... So this was how it was to be, now: I would do my best to live in the quick world, but the ghosts of the dead would be ever at hand.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“Strip by strip the lash carved into Grace's shuddering flesh. My tears were falling by then, heavy drops, joining in the leaf dust with the blood that had begun to trickle from the table. My limbs were so weak that I could not even raise a hand to wipe the mucus that dripped from my nose.

She had been lying with her head faced away from me. She lifted it then, and turned, so that we looked at one another. If an anvil had fallen from the sky at that moment and landed upon me, I could not have felt more crushed.
(pg 39)”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I reached for her, pushing back the fall of hair-it was heavy and thick and smooth to the touch-and tilted her chin so that the moonlight shone on her wet face.

We married each other that night, there on a bed of fallen pine needles-even today, the scent of pitch-pine stirs me-with Henry's distant flute for a wedding march and the arching white birch boughs for our basilica. At first, she quivered like an aspen, and I was ashamed at my lack of continence, yet I could not let go of her. I felt like Peleus on the beach, clinging to Thetis, only to find that, suddenly, it was she who held me; that same furnace in her nature that had flared up in anger blazed again, in passion.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“All the times, all the very many times, I had been forced to thwart and stifle my own nature seemed to gather together then, in that hot and dismal corridor. I heard a rushing sound in my head and felt a pressure in my breast, like floodwaters rising behind a flimsy dike. Before I knew I did it, the soup bowl was rising in my hand as if elevated by some supernatural force. Then, its yellow-gray contents were running down the nurse’s pudgy face.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I wonder where he lies. Wedged under a rock, with a thousand small mouths already sucking on his spongy flesh. Or floating still, on and down, on and down, to wider, calmer reaches of the river. I see them gathering: the drowned, the shot. Their hands float out to touch each other, fingertip to fingertip. In a day, two days, they will glide on, a funeral flotilla, past the unfinished white dome rising out of its scaffolds on a muddy hill in Washington. Will the citizens recognize them, the brave fallen, and uncover in a gesture of respect? Or will they turn away, disgusted by the bloated mass of human rot?”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“How often it is that an idea that seems bright bossed and gleaming in its clarity when examined in a church, or argued over with a friend in a frosty garden, becomes clouded and murk-stained when dragged out into the field of actual endeavor. pg. 65”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I do not ask for your abosolution. I simply ask you to see that there is only one thing to do when we fall, and that is get up, and go on with the life that is set in front of us, and try to so the good of which our hands are capable for the people who come in our way. That, at least, has been my path”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“The heat of late afternoon closed in around us like an animate thing; you could feel it on your skin, warm and moist, like a great beast panting. The air was so dense it seemed to require a huge effort even to inhale it. It lay thick in the lungs and seemed to give no refreshment. Pg 163”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“To believe, to act, and to have events confound you—I grant you, that is hard to bear. But to believe, and not to act, or to act in a way that every fiber of your soul held was wrong—how can you not see? That is what would have been reprehensible.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“It's too late," she said, her voice trembling. "You are not the beautiful innocent vagabond walking toward me under the dogwood blossoms, with his trunks and his head full of worthless notions. And I am not the beloved, cherished ladies' maid...”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“I remember arguing that moral greatness had little meaning without action to effect the moral end.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


“And yet what manner of man would I be, who has so much to say in the contest of words, if now I shirked this contest of blood?”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from March


About the author

Geraldine Brooks
Born place: in Sydney, Australia
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