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West with the Night West with the Night by Beryl Markham
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West with the Night Quotes (showing 1-30 of 106)
“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of a man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“If a man has any greatness in him, it comes to light, not in one flamboyant hour, but in the ledger of his daily work.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself. You learn to watch other people, but you never watch yourself because you strive against loneliness. If you read a book, or shuffle a deck of cards, or care for a dog, you are avoiding yourself. The abhorrence of loneliness is as natural as wanting to live at all. If it were otherwise, men would never have bothered to make an alphabet, nor to have fashioned words out of what were only animal sounds, nor to have crossed continents - each man to see what the other looked like.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“The way to find a needle in a haystack is to sit down.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told -- that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“There's an old adage," he said, "translated from the ancient Coptic, that contains all the wisdom of the ages -- "Life is life and fun is fun, but it's all so quiet when the goldfish die.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“We fly, but we have not 'conquered' the air. Nature presides in all her dignity, permitting us the study and the use of such of her forces as we may understand. It is when we presume to intimacy, having been granted only tolerance, that the harsh stick fall across our impudent knuckles and we rub the pain, staring upward, startled by our ignorance.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“A word grows to a thought – a thought to an idea – an idea to an act. The change is slow, and the Present is a sluggish traveler loafing in the path Tomorrow wants to take.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance. The cloud clears as you enter it. I have learned this, but like everyone, I learned it late.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“After that, work and hope. But never hope more than you work”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“To an eagle or to an owl or to a rabbit, man must seem a masterful and yet a forlorn animal; he has but two friends. In his almost universal unpopularity he points out, with pride, that these two are the dog and the horse. He believes, with an innocence peculiar to himself, that they are equally proud of this alleged confraternity. He says, 'Look at my two noble friends -- they are dumb, but they are loyal.' I have for years suspected that they are only tolerant.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“We swung over the hills and over the town and back again, and I saw how a man can be master of a craft, and how a craft can be master of an element. I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup. I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. And I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know -- that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“There are as many Africas as there are books about Africa -- and as many books about it as you could read in a leisurely lifetime. Whoever writes a new one can afford a certain complacency in the knowledge that his is a new picture agreeing with no one else's, but likely to be haugthily disagreed with by all those who believed in some other Africa. ... Being thus all things to all authors, it follows, I suppose, that Africa must be all things to all readers.

Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer's paradise, a hunter's Valhalla, an escapist's Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just 'home.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“Elephant, beyond the fact that their size and conformation are aesthetically more suited to the treading of this earth than our angular informity, have an average intelligence comparable to our own. Of course they are less agile and physically less adaptable than ourselves -- nature having developed their bodies in one direction and their brains in another, while human beings, on the other hand, drew from Mr. Darwin's lottery of evolution both the winning ticket and the stub to match it. This, I suppose, is why we are so wonderful and can make movies and electric razors and wireless sets -- and guns with which to shoot the elephant, the hare, clay pigeons, and each other.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“What a child does not know and does not want to know of race and colour and class, he learns soon enough as he grows to see each man flipped inexorably into some predestined groove like a penny or a sovereign in a banker's rack. Kibii, the Nandi boy, was my good friend. Arab Ruta (the same boy grown to manhood), who sits before me, is my good friend, but the handclasp will be shorter, the smile will not be so eager on his lips, and though the path is for a while the same, he will walk behind me now, when once, in the simplicity of our nonage, we walked together.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“I look at my yesterdays for months past, and find them as good a lot of yesterdays as anybody might want. I sit there in the firelight and see them all. The hours that made them were good, and so were the moments that made the hours. I have had responsibilities and work, dangers and pleasure, good friends, and a world without walls to live in.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“A map in the hands of a pilot is a testimony of a man's faith in other men; it is a symbol of confidence and trust. It is not like a printed page that bears mere words, ambiguous and artful, and whose most believing reader - even whose author, perhaps - must allow in his mind a recess for doubt. A map says to you, 'Read me carefully, follow me closely, doubt me not.' It says, 'I am the earth in the palm of your hand. Without me, you are alone and lost.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“One day the stars will be as familiar to each man as the landmarks, the curves, and the hills on the road that leads to his door, and one day this will be an airborne life. But by then men will have forgotten how to fly; they will be passengers on machines whose conductors are carefully promoted to a familiarity with labelled buttons, and in whose minds knowledge of the sky and the wind and the way of weather will be extraneous as passing fiction.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“But, for a little while, this is the place for us -- a good place too--a place of good omen, a place of beginning things--and of ending things I never thought would end.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“Talk lives in a man’s head, but sometimes it is very lonely because in the heads of many men there is nothing to keep it company - and so talk goes out through the lips.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“(On WWI:)

A man of importance had been shot at a place I could not pronounce in Swahili or in English, and, because of this shooting, whole countries were at war. It seemed a laborious method of retribution, but that was the way it was being done. ...

A messenger came to the farm with a story to tell. It was not a story that meant much as stories went in those days. It was about how the war progressed in German East Africa and about a tall young man who was killed in it. ... It was an ordinary story, but Kibii and I, who knew him well, thought there was no story like it, or one as sad, and we think so now.

The young man tied his shuka on his shoulder one day and took his shield and his spear and went to war. He thought war was made of spears and shields and courage, and he brought them all.

But they gave him a gun, so he left the spear and the shield behind him and took the courage, and went where they sent him because they said this was his duty and he believed in duty. ...

He took the gun and held it the way they had told him to hold it, and walked where they told him to walk, smiling a little and looking for another man to fight.

He was shot and killed by the other man, who also believed in duty, and he was buried where he fell. It was so simple and so unimportant.

But of course it meant something to Kibii and me, because the tall young man was Kibii's father and my most special friend. Arab Maina died on the field of action in the service of the King. But some said it was because he had forsaken his spear.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“I had never realized before how quickly men deteriorate without razors and clean shirts. They are like potted plants that go to weed unless they are pruned and tended daily. A single day's growth beard makes a man look careless; two days', derelict; and four days', polluted. Blix and Weston hadn't shaved for three.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“In view of this and other things, I demand forgiveness for being so obviously impressed with my own parents.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“[I]t is no good anticipating regrets. Every tomorrow ought not to resemble every yesterday.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“The Old Days, the Lost Days -- in the half-closed eyes of memory (and in fact) they never marched across a calendar; they huddled round a burning log, leaned on a certain table, or listened to those certain songs.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“And still it was gone. Seeing it again could not be living it again. You can always rediscover an old path and wander over it, but the best yo an do then is say, 'Ah, yes, know this turning!' --or remind yourself that, while you remember that unforgettable valley, the valley no longer remembers you.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“The only disadvantage in surviving a dangerous experience lies in the fact that your story of it tends to be anticlimactic. You can never carry on right through the point where whatever it is that threatens your life actually takes it -- and get anybody to believe you. The world is full of sceptics.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
“He knows that there will be days ahead, long, tedious days which have no real beginning or ending, but which run together into night and out of it without changing color, or sound, or meaning. He will lie in his bed feeling the minutes and the hours pass through his body like an endless ribbon of pain because time becomes pain then. Light and darkness become pain; all his senses exist only to receive it, to transmit to his mind again and again, with ceaseless repetition, the simple fact that now he is dying.”
Beryl Markham, West with the Night

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