“Borrowed Words”

In Japanese landscape gardening the word shakkei means “borrowed view.” The designer “borrows,” or incorporates, any view beyond property borders, thereby visually enlarging his own property and landscape.

Hunters in the Snow, BruegelThis winter in New England is already legendary for its deep snows and brutal cold. It’s robbed energy and enthusiasm from just about everyone, and goes a long way to explaining my rare appearances here on my blogs. And it’s not quitting yet! So I’m turning to another strategy. I’m turning to “borrowed words,” quotes I’ve culled over decades to expand my own vision. They’re timeless wisdom expressed in memorable form, and it will give me joy to share them with you. Maybe you’ll enlarge and expand them for me by your comments on them. I hope so.

First up, then, is a quote from Southern writer Eudora Welty, who said:

“I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”

As someone who also came of a sheltered life, her words resonate with promise for me. Adventure and daring can be possible in unlikely ways and places and times.

And a related quote, this one from Tolkien (yes, J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of hobbits and  the lord of the rings). He too offers a promise for the sheltered and less than conventionally daring:

“The dweller in the quiet and fertile plains may hear of the tormented hills and the unharvested sea and long for them in his heart. For the heart is hard though the body be soft.”

“For the heart is hard though the body be soft.” I love that. How about you?

(I’m sure he didn’t mean hard-hearted, either —)

This entry was posted in Quotes, winter, Wisdom, Writers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to “Borrowed Words”

  1. WM says:

    I just came across one today Judy, on a blog that I was catching up on after a long time – and it did make me a little uncomfortable because I have always posed as being a-religious if there’s such a word – agnostic, if you will, or dismissive of popular forms of religious zealotry…
    And the comment sounds like he’s saying the zealots are to be commended? Maybe not..maybe he meant the true believers who may not necessarily be the zealots, huh?

    “”Without the ultrarational hopes and passions of religion no society will ever have the courage to conquer despair and attempt the impossible; for the vision of a just society is an impossible one, which can be approximated only by those who do not regard it as impossible.”–Reinhold Niebuhr

    Liked by 1 person

    • Touch2Touch says:

      I vaguely recollect seeing a quote like that — and thinking at the time, well! I don’t really understand it, and what I do understand, I think could be interpreted either way. Which only goes to prove that Niebuhr is too deep for me!
      Is a Pocketful of Wry your blog from a ways back? I don’t think I knew it then, and if it is — it’s TERRIFIC!


  2. atwistedpair says:

    blinding snow, a haiku by Yu Chang
    Originally posted on word pond:

    blinding snow
    there is no need
    to understand everything

    – Yu Chang
    Mann Library’s Daily Haiku


  3. pauline says:

    Here’s one for you, J. Keep on keeping on, one winter day toward spring at a time 🙂

    “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.”

    –Walter Elliot


    • Touch2Touch says:

      “Keep on keeping on” is one of my favorites; I first heard it from a visiting Irish priest with a wonderful lilt to his talk. I can tell immediately that the Elliot quote will also be very useful, and become a favorite.


  4. 2e0mca says:

    Well Judith – my experience of you is that you’re not a quitter and I suspect that Winter will get one hell of a beating from you!

    Quotes that inspire me are usually of a cinematic nature but not all… In fact for me it’s often less a quote than a visualisation – In Red for Danger L.T.C.Rolt tells how time keeping was a matter of honour for the driver of the northbound Leeds express. When the southbound ‘Scotsman’ collided with a freight at Abbots Ripton the trap was set for this honest servant of the railroad to crash into the wreck. His dilligence, where others might have been late, made it impossible for the second accident to be avoided and many additional people died. I’m going to quote from myself…

    In 1876 a terrible accident at Abbotts Ripton involving three trains resulted in far reaching changes to the way that British Railway signalling operated. In a driving blizzard, snow prevented signals that showed as clear to the driver from being pulled to danger and the southbound Flying Scotsman collided with a freight train that was reversing to get out of its way. A northbound Leeds express – ironically running to time in the terrible conditions – then ploughed into the wreckage. Fourteen people lost their lives.

    The crucial change made was that all signals should by default show Red for Danger rather than clear and that they should always be visible. The most obvious example of the fallout from this accident on Britain’s Railways today is that the Red light is at the bottom of the colour light signals where it cannot be obscured by snow piling up on the hood of a light below. Simple but so very important…

    This is something – ‘a quote’ you might say, that will stick with me throughout my life. Our safety hangs by so slim a thread.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      What you call visual here — I think I might call narrative, or story.
      And hands down, for me and for many, a story is the best way to remember something important. The point I focused on especially from your story is that about making sure that the red light was placed at the bottom of the signals where it would ALWAYS be visible. As you say, a small thing, but vital.
      And also how — good intentions alone cannot guarantee success, or even safety. That’s a chilling thought, but worth remembering.
      Thanks so much, Martin.


      • 2e0mca says:

        Thank you Judith for your kind words – You clearly understood that I was having a Senior Moment when I went off at a tangent and launched into a story when I should have been looking for a quote! 😉


  5. Patti Kuche says:

    Yes Judith, I love that hard heart which has to keep pumping to keep the body soft!


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