Words. Quotes. They’re everywhere, and some of them circle around my brain, much like ghosts haunting a house. Some of them are important to me because I like the way they look, or the rhythm, or the beauty. The images they conjure. Or the strength they give in times when I’m struggling, and the way they capture moods and emotion. Words are precious and important, no matter how they are articulated, through sound or gesture. They can be used in the most beautiful and terrible of ways, abused and celebrated, harsh and transcendent.


I’ve raided the store of ‘Listful Prompts of Listing‘ on the Cheer Peppers website – to bring you a list of words that haunt me. So in no particular order, here are some of the passages, bits of poems, quotes, and lyrics that rattle around in my brain.

‘Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There’s a crack, a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.’ – Leonard Cohen, Anthem.


‘A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.’ – Margaret Atwood, Spelling Poem.


‘And why don’t you write? Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it. I know why you haven’t written. (And why I didn’t write before the age of twenty-seven.) Because writing is at once too high, too great for you, it’s reserved for the great-that is for “great men”; and it’s “silly.”

Besides, you’ve written a little, but in secret. And it wasn’t good, because it was in secret, and because you punished yourself for writing, because you didn’t go all the way, or because you wrote, irresistibly, as when we would masturbate in secret, not to go further, but to attenuate the tension a bit, just enough to take the edge off. And then as soon as we come, we go and make ourselves feel guilty-so as to be forgiven; or to forget, to bury it until the next time.’ – Hélène Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa.


‘“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.’ – Emily Dickinson.


‘Come as you are,
As you were,
As I want you to be.

As a friend
As a friend
As an old enemy

Take your time
Hurry up
The choice is yours
Don’t be late…’ – Nirvana, Come As You Are.


‘If I dismiss the ordinary — waiting for the special, the extreme, the extraordinary to happen — I may just miss my life… To allow ourselves to spend afternoons watching dancers rehearse, or sit on a stone wall and watch the sunset, or spend the whole weekend rereading Chekhov stories—to know that we are doing what we’re supposed to be doing — is the deepest form of permission in our creative lives. The British author and psychologist Adam Phillips has noted, ‘When we are inspired, rather like when we are in love, we can feel both unintelligible to ourselves and most truly ourselves.’ This is the feeling I think we all yearn for, a kind of hyperreal dream state. We read Emily Dickinson. We watch the dancers. We research a little known piece of history obsessively. We fall in love. We don’t know why, and yet these moments form the source from which all our words will spring.’ – Dani Shapiro, Still Writing.


‘All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.’ – J.R.R. Tolkien.


‘I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)’ – Sylvia Plath, Mad Girl’s Love Song.


‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’ – Roald Dahl, The Minpins.


‘Understand me.
I’m not like an ordinary world.
I have my madness,
I live in another dimension
and I do not have time for things that have no soul.’ – Charles Bukowski.


‘You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.’ – Mary Oliver, Wild Geese.


‘Nothing is absolute,
Everything changes,
Everything moves,
Everything revolutionizes,
All flies and goes.’ – Frida Kahlo.

What are some of the words that haunt you?


6 thoughts on “Haunted

  1. I like this idea – it’s quite like a Commonplace Book. I think it shows what kind of a person you are – what you find interesting and what amazed you. I think it’s a great way to get to know people because we all – bookworms, at least – hold words close to our hearts. Some of these quotes are beautiful; I especially liked the quote from Still Writing. I think I’ll share some quotes from my Commonplace Book too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to read some of things that have moved you! You’re right, it’s a good way to get to know someone. Still Writing is full of beautiful words and passages, it’s full of dog-eared pages! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll try to get post done within this week then; I hope you’ll find something worth loving in there too! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really loved this post. Reading it was almost like a guided meditation because I was able to take it one quotation at a time and just absorb and react to each one before moving on to the next. It also reminded me I keep meaning to read The Laugh of the Medusa!
    Would you mind if I link to this post in my own post about words that haunt me?
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you loved it! Go ahead, link away, I look forward to reading your post 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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