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O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1) O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
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O Pioneers! Quotes Showing 1-30 of 50
“Isn’t it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“I've seen it before. There are women who spread ruin through no fault of theirs, just by being too beautiful, too ful of life and love. They can't help it. Poeple come to them as people go to a warm fire in winter.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“Freedom so often means that one isn't needed anywhere.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“The land belongs to the future, Carl; that's the way it seems to me. How many of the names on the county clerk's plat will be there in fifty years? I might as well try to will the sunset over there to my brother's children. We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it--for a little while.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“We are all alike; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing. When one of us dies, they scarcely know where to bury him. Our landlady and the delicatessen man are our mourners, and we leave nothing behind us but a frock-coat and a fiddle, or an easel, or a typewriter, or whatever took we got our living by. All we have ever managed to do is to pay our rent, that exorbitant rent that one has to pay for a few square feet of space near the heart of things. We have no house, no place, no people of our own. We live in the streets, in the parks, in the theaters. We sit in restaurants and concert halls and look about at the hundreds of our own kind and shudder.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“Alexandra drew her shawl closer about her and stood leaning against the frame of the mill, looking at the stars which glittered so keenly through the frosty autumn air. She always loved to watch them, to think of their vastness and distance, and of their ordered march. It fortified her to reflect upon the great operations of nature, and when she thought of the law that lay behind them, she felt a sense of personal security. That night she had a new consciousness of the country, felt almost a new relation to it. Even her talk with the boys had not taken away the feeling that had overwhelmed her when she drove back to the Divide that afternoon. She had never known before how much the country meant to her. The chirping of the insects down in the long grass had been like the sweetest music. She had felt as if her heart were hiding down there, somewhere, with the quail and the plover and all the little wild things that crooned or buzzed in the sun. Under the long shaggy ridges, she felt the future stirring.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“People have to snatch at happiness when they can, in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“Alexandra sighed. "I have a feeling that if you go away, you will not come back. Something will happen to one of us, or to both. People have to snatch at happiness when they can, in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find. What I have is yours, if you care enough about me to take it.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“There is often a good deal of the child left in people who have had to grow up too soon.”
Willa Sibert Cather, O Pioneers!
“It's awfully easy to rush into a profession you don't really like, and awfully hard to get out of it.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“A pioneer should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than the things themselves.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“Things away from home often look better than they are.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
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“It's by understanding me, and the boys, and mother, that you have helped me. I expect that is the only way one person ever really can help another.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“But I can't help feeling scared when I think how I will miss you- more than you will ever know.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“But the great fact was the land itself, which seemed to overwhelm the little beginnings of human society that struggled in its sombre wastes. It was from facing this vast hardness that the boy's mouth had become so bitter; because he felt that men were too weak to make any mark here, that the land wanted to be let alone, to preserve its own fierce strength, its peculiar, savage kind of beauty, its uninterrupted mournfulness.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“It was to him a very strange and perplexing place, where people wore fine clothes and had hard hearts.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“The land belongs to the future.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“She began to wonder whether she would not do better to finish her life alone. What was left of life seemed unimportant.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“Everywhere the grain stood ripe and the hot afternoon was full of the smell of the ripe wheat, like the smell of bread baking in an oven. The breath of the wheat and the sweet clover passed him like pleasant things in a dream.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“There is something frank and joyous and young in the open face of the country. It gives itself ungrudgingly to the moods of the season, holding nothing back. Like the plains of Lombardy, it seems to rise a little to meet the sun. The air and the earth are curiously mated and intermingled, as if the one were the breath of the other. You feel in the atmosphere the same tonic, puissant quality that is in the tilth, the same strength and resoluteness.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“The years seemed to stretch before her like the land; spring, summer, autumn, winter, spring; always the same patient fields, the patient little trees, the patient lives; always the same yearning, the same pulling at the chain—until the instinct to live had torn itself and bled and weakened for the last time, until the chain secured a dead woman, who might cautiously be released.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“Carl sat musing until the sun leaped above the prairie, and in the grass about him all the small creatures of day began to tune their tiny instruments. Birds and insects without number began to chirp, to twitter, to snap and whistle, to make all manner of fresh shrill noises. The pasture was flooded with light; every clump of ironweed and snow-on-the-mountain threw a long shadow, and the golden light seemed to be rippling through the curly grass like the tide racing in.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“...You know that my spells come from God, and that I would not harm any living creature. You believe that everyone should worship God in the way revealed to him. But that is not the way of this country. The way here is for all to do alike. I am despised because I do not wear shoes, because I do not cut my hair, and because I have visions. At home, in the old country, there were many like me, who had been touched by God, or who had seen things in the graveyard at night and were different afterward. We thought nothing of it, and let them alone. But here, if a man is different in his feet or in his head, they put him in the asylum. . . . That is the way; they have built the asylum for people who are different, and they will not even let us live in the holes with the badgers.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“She had felt as if her heart were hiding down there, somewhere, with the quail and the plover and all the little wild things that crooned or buzzed in the sun. Under the long shaggy ridges, she felt the future stirring.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“The Bergson boys, certainly, would have been happier with their uncle Otto, in the bakery shop in Chicago. Like most of their neighbours, they were meant to follow in paths already marked out for them, not to break trails in a new country. A steady job, a few holidays, nothing to think about, and they would have been very happy. It was no fault of theirs that they had been dragged into the wilderness when they were little boys. A pioneer should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than the things themselves.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“You remember how homesick I used to get, and what long talks we used to have coming from school? We've someway always felt alike about things."
"Yes, that's it; we've liked the same things and we've liked them together, without anybody else knowing. And we've had good times, hunting for Christmas trees and going for ducks and making our plum wine together every year. We've never either of us had any other close friend. And now---”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“But she's the kind that won't be downed easily. She'll work all day and go to a Bohemian wedding and dance all night, and drive the hay wagon for a cross man next morning.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
“I know that I am going away on my own account. I must make the usual effort. I must have something to show for myself. To take what you would give me, I should have to be either a very large man or a very small one, and I am only in the middle class.”
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

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