Book//mark – Look Homeward, Angel | Thomas Wolfe, 1929

Thomas Wolfe, 1937 by Carl Van Vechten                  Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929

“. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.

Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother’s face; from
the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.

Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father’s heart? Which of us
has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

O waste of lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this weary, unbright cinder, lost!
Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into
heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?

O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.”

“Wind pressed the boughs, the withered leaves were shaking. It was October, but
the leaves were shaking. A star was shaking. A light was waking. Wind was quaking.”

“I am, he thought, a part of all that I have touched and that has touched me, which, having for me
no existence save that which I gave to it, became other than itself by being mixed with what I then
was, and is now still otherwise, having fused with what I now am, which is itself a cumulation
of what I have been becoming. Why here? Why there? Why now? Why then?”

“But we are the sum of all the moments of our lives — all that is ours is in them:
we cannot escape or conceal it.”

“He was devoured by a vast strange hunger for life. At night, he listened to the million-noted uludation
of little night things, the great brooding symphony of dark, the ringing of remote churchbells across the
country. And his vision widened out in circles over moon-drenched meadows, dreaming woods,
mighty rivers going along in darkness, and ten thousand sleeping towns. He believed in the infinite
rich variety of all the towns and faces: behind any of a million shabby houses he believed there was
strange buried life, subtle and shattered romance, something dark and unknown. At the moment of
passing any house, he thought, someone therein might be at the gate of death, lovers might lie
twisted in hot embrace . . .”

“…he was like a man who stands upon a hill above the town he had left, yet does not say
‘The town is near,’ but turns his eyes upon the distant soaring ranges.”

“The mountains were his masters. They rimmed in life. They were the cup of reality,
beyond growth, beyond struggle and death. They were his absolute unity in the
midst of eternal change.”

“My dear, dear girl [. . .] we can’t turn back the days that have gone. We can’t turn life back
to the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We are a flash of
fire–a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we are three-cents-worth of lime and iron–which we
cannot get back.”

“Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into the nakedness and night
again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended
yesterday in Texas.”

“By God, I shall spend the rest of my life getting my heart back, healing and forgetting every
scar you put upon me when I was a child. The first move I ever made, after the cradle, was
to crawl for the door, and every move I have made since has been an effort to escape.”

“And who shall say–whatever disenchantment follows–that we ever forget magic; or that
we can ever betray, on this leaden earth, the apple-tree, the singing, and the gold?”

Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929

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