Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Favorite Quotes from Wind in the Willows

In anticipation and excitement for my Book Challenge Giveaway (Week 1), I'm posting a few of my absolute favorite quotes from Wind in the Willows (the book I am giving away Week 1):
“It'll be all right, my fine fellow," said the Otter. "I'm coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there's a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.”  
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
 "Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing!" 
"Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.
"All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
"Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.
"Onion sauce! Onion Sauce!"

This quote is from one of the most moving scenes in The Wind in the Willows. It's where Mole and Rat are looking for a lost otter child (Portly) and come across the “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” or Pan (the god and good shepherd of the animals, according to Greek mythology/religion) who is portrayed as a Christ-like figure in this scene and the One who completes their quest by drawing them to little Portly. I believe this chapter is a great description of what it means to fear God>

"Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground.  It was no panic terror—indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy—but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near.  With difficulty he turned to look for his friend, and saw him at his side cowed, stricken, and trembling violently.  And still there was utter silence in the populous bird-haunted branches around them; and still the light grew and grew.
Perhaps he would never have dared to raise his eyes, but that, though the piping was now hushed, the call and the summons seemed still dominant and imperious.  He might not refuse, were Death himself waiting to strike him instantly, once he had looked with mortal eye on things rightly kept hidden.  Trembling he obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fullness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humourously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleeping soundly in utter peace and contentment, the little, round, podgy, childish form of the baby otter.  All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
“Rat!” he found breath to whisper, shaking. “Are you afraid?”
“Afraid?” murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. “Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never!  And yet—and yet—O, Mole, I am afraid!”
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
Sudden and magnificent, the sun's broad golden disc showed itself over the horizon facing them; and the first rays, shooting across the level water-meadows, took the animals full in the eyes and dazzled them. When they were able to look once more, the Vision had vanished, and the air was full of the carol of birds that hailed the dawn.
"There he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger's origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.
“We shall creep out quietly into the butler's pantry--" cried the Mole."--with our pistols and swords and sticks--" shouted the Rat."--and rush in upon them," said Badger."--and whack 'em, and whack 'em, and whack 'em!" cried the Toad in ecstasy, running round and round the room, and jumping over the chairs.” 
— Kenneth GrahameWind in the Willows

I have many many more favorite quotes from Wind in the Willows (basically it's the entire book), and I may add some over the week, but these are some of my absolute favorites. Wind in the Willows is just one of those fantastic books that fill you with joy, sheer awe and wonder, and a sense of adventure, with inspiration to be and do. I can't quite describe it, really, but here is quote from A.A. Milne that might do a better job of describing it than I:
"One does not argue about The Wind in the Willows. The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and, if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. The book is a test of character. We can't criticize it, because it is criticizing us. But I must give you one word of warning. When you sit down to it, don't be so ridiculous as to suppose that you are sitting in judgment on my taste, or on the art of Kenneth Grahame. You are merely sitting in judgment on yourself. You may be worthy: I don't know, But it is you who are on trial." 
    — A.A. Milne

What are some of your favorite quotes from Wind in the Willows?

All text © 2013 Footprints in the Sand | All Images © 2013 Hislight Photography


  1. Once upon a time, there was a girl named Rachel who loved to read. For a long time (and for no good reason), Rachel refused to read The Wind in the Willows, having tried it as a kid and failing to understand it. Then Rachel grew up and fell in love with Winnie-the-Pooh and made it her mission in life to make everyone else read Winnie-the-Pooh. The summer Rachel turned 21, she finally sat down and read The Wind in the Willows and when she read it she almost cried from the sense of having missed so much beauty over the years of refusing to read. From that moment onward, Rachel has wanted a copy of this book and has loved to discuss it with other people who love it.
    Massive thanks and excitement over here for the giveaway (yes) but more importantly, for this post. :)

  2. My husband John read this to me every summer solstice, esp. the "Piper at the gates of dawn" Now he is gone one year but
    I'll always have this special memory!! Who could write like this now a days?? So love the Wind and the Willows!!!
    Cheers from Peggy

  3. Being too lazy to walk to the bookshelf, I came upon your site today Googling the phrase "messing about in boats" as I edited a piece using "messing" without "boats." I, indeed, love this book with all my heart, and very much appreciate your comment, "I believe this chapter [Portly and Pan] is a great description of what it means to fear God." Moley is my favorite character.


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