Quotes from Owen Parry’s Abel Jones novels
from Call Each River Jordan:
I hate what war has taught me of myself.
At times I fear Christ threw himself away.
… his voice was Scots as Glasgow soot.
[The soldiers] hated the war and hated those not in it.
[Soldiers] Even the most admirable complain. It is their only freedom.
Words are the way we spill our pain.
I only want to be a Christian man, and find I am a Judas to my kind.
… wild as the world
[US Grant] Madness is like courage, taking a different course in every man. And madnesss is a measure of the times.
… the harm that comes to others has a savor, and men are ever ready to look on. Nor did I turn away myself.
The single muscle of the crowd relaxed, and men became their separate selves again.
… rage made flesh
… aims his wrath at love
I do not like my scriptures barked. Over-use cheapens the Holy Word, and makes me wonder what men really mean.
They tossed me scraps and said I should be grateful.
… many a sort may hang, when there’s a rope.
Wishes are dust awaiting the broom.
There is talk in plenty in this world, but fewer deeds.
No words describe our many shades of fear.
… children not yet skilled in pretense
Suffering never has fit well into speech.
Miracles happen every day … It is the only way we get along.
Letters? That is one of the most beautiful words in our language. … Oh, there was love in the loops, and dreams in the dots, and joy in the ink itself.
It is the English who think truth is clay to be shaped to our wants.
… good manners … save us many a hurt.
Twas as if man and nature had agreed to a truce that suited neithre party.
Men will tell you a great deal, hoping they will not have to tell you what matters.
For she didn’t signify. [Re: a slave girl]
It cries for justice till the stars could weep
A family is complex as a contest of nations.
… Abrupt as vengeance
… he had been born to judge and would not comprehend the fear of judgment.
When we seem to know too much we learn too little.
… that Yankee democratic spirit to tell other men what’s right and what’s wrong
… the pure hatred that is a continuation of love
Proper behavior is important if society is to function.
Our cause must be to rise above our injuries.
The Southland was as rich in lie as in hatred.
We need someone to give to , that is the soul of it.
… our small house and its certainties
… as safe as life allows
Love is robust, but our small lives are not.
… each small justice matters
It can be difficult, sir, to distinguish love from pride of possession.
[fiction] Nothing but lies! Stories made up! Why should we pay a fellow to do what a child would be chastised for doing?
Jealousy got no more sense to it than love.
When voices hail us in darkness, he who bears a light will help their aim.
… he was drawn to the light, and light brings death.
The Jesus was a Negro passage appears on p. 232 ff. (I’m presenting these quotes pretty much in order of appearance in the novel.)
… he had talked himself deep into sorrow, as a child might do.
… no man in his senses credits rumor.
I pray on it till my knees burn up through my shoulders.
Perhaps a man’s only got so much Christian in him.
The wounds we hid are more in want of comfort than the wounds we show.
Do not look for sense, look for belief.
There is no harsher master than reality.
Perhaps that final battle from the Book is here and now, and every single day.
The calvary will give you a fright, but the infantry does the killing.
If this was no the end of days, it was a hint of Hell.
Freedom is a great deal of work.
from Faded Coat of Blue:
To the Welsh, Scots, and Irish who built America while the English weren’t looking.
… a politician … and that sort is ever more given to speech than to thought, although base calculation is not beyond them.
Men fought with their fists and their dollars for right of place.
… but what is knowledge compared to emotion?
… rumor would be such a girl’s fact
… the pumped up citizen willing to fight to the last drop of the neighbor boy’s blood.
War disappoints long before it kills.
… the Irish are born upon a stage with the Lord as their audience.
Christian on the outside, cannibals within.
Honor is like wages, boy, and must be earned.
Wherever you went, it was the same. The wickedest sons of the gentry hid out on the staffs, while the poor sweating butties went at it with sticks and stones to make widows. I would not preach disorder, and I see that society must have its organization, but I do not always like the injustice of the world.
… there is love lurking in the hardest heart.
… for we must believe in ourselves if we are to rule.
… his eyes were patient with all the stupidity of the East.
Yet I know enough of men’s hearts to understand there is more than simple goodness in them, and I know enough of their heads to know there is more in them than sense.
All youth, good intentions, and ignorance.
The wickedest place in hell should be reserved for those who paint war in glory and cause young men to dream of it.
… thought is the enemy of duty.
[The Jew] has the carefulness of the eternal guest, see, and that confuses men born safe in their property. They think him devioius when he is only cautious. Perhaps America will be a home to him, too, although I understand not all would have it so. For men need to blame and to feel bigger than one aother, and sorry it is that we are made so. Look you: I recognize the sadness in the Jew. For it is the sort you will find in a Weshman when the singing is done. Our homes were taken, too, and our religion mocked. We, too, were said to be of lower clay.
[Revolution] Men without Faith must substitute a dream, and mad dreams there are in plenty.
… the whole world will be ground up by industry, and covered with soot and ashes.
We let them slip the con over us. We don’t like it, but it works on us anyway.
That makes me not quite human to the inheritance crowd. … Tainted. Just because the Cawbers weren’t here in time to steal land from the Indians and kiss the British on their backsides.
… beauty confounds us and we often confuse it with virtue.
I had come to the land where the running ended.
… an entire nation of runaways
Perhaps [the war] was a struggle between the dreams of men who would run no more.
We men and women are incomplete things, and must be made whole every so often if we are to continue in our adversities.
[a fool] for having all the pieces and none of the puzzle together.
How the Irish have had the fear beaten into them. It shows most on the women, since they do not drink.
… more beautiful than Eve in a gown of stars
Twas clear enough that some men did not want the truth to come out. Yet that did not mean they knew the truth — only that they feared it.
… wishes are wasted things.
… a man who could not afford what he wanted and who did not want what he could afford.
And forget Washington. The place is ntohing but a zoo where the animals eat each other.
Oh, what is honor but the mask we put over our wickedness?
… each man must deal with his own loneliness.
… when the great men will not have a thing, the little men cannot force it through, and even revolutions end with the same men behinds the desks.
What will come of the world if we do not take its weight upon our shoulders now and then?
Twas a dream of a country, see.
And from the Afterward:
… our New Jerusalem was built on Babel.