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Indelible ink

October 11, 2009

Over the centuries, writers have made their mark. Politically, culturally, socially. Their words are read, argued over, adapted to new media, and a select few are fortunate enough to find their words come into common parlance, even if the source is not remembered.

“This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang, but a whimper.”

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen / The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

Bonus points if you can identify these poets without looking them up.

The written word makes its mark on the page, and increasingly, indelibly, elsewhere. There is something of a fashion for literary tattoos, so much so there are even dedicated websites with several fine examples, such as Contrariwise.

From the small and discreet:

To the large, complex and frankly painful:

I already have one tattoo myself:

and have been considering another, a symbol from one of my own stories.

However, this site, the idea behind these tattoos intrigues me. I am thinking of getting one to surround my existing tattoo.

Not a literary quote, but one about a literary giant, a man I (sometimes uncomfortably) identify with increasingly.

His name has been lent to descriptions of characters like those I write about, Byronic antiheroes. The quote is by Lady Caroline Lamb to describe Lord Byron:

Mad, bad and dangerous to know

Paul would like to wish his father-in-law a very happy 60th birthday!
  1. October 11, 2009 12:16 am

    I’m so scared of needles so it would be hard for me to get inked, but have been tempted and have many quotes I could add.

  2. October 11, 2009 10:31 pm

    Benjamin – don’t be scared – really. I am the biggest girls blouse when it comes to pain – ask anyone. It really depends on where you decide to have your tat. Some places are less intense than others – anything over bone or tendon can be a bit interesting at times.

    With anything – you need a compelling reason for making the decision. But I warn you – once you have one – you can never stop.. and only those who have one can truely understand THAT comment.

    check this out – a very short vid of me getting mine done.

    and about my thoughts getting a tat and what it was like

    Thanks for the post Paul, it gives us all reason to sit back and wonder what sort of mark we are making with what we are writing – what will be remembered and what will fall by the wayside ( whether we like it or not)

  3. October 12, 2009 7:24 am

    those quotes were killing me – for I knew them but couldn’t remember where they came from.. the first one – embarrassingly… was one I had learnt as part of a performance piece. The second was a quote I am sure every high school student was sick to death of hearing coming out of the principals mouth every single school assembly…..
    yes – I resorted to looking it up… and kicked myself black and blue when I saw them… Good old T.S Eliot and The Hollow Men and John Greenleaf Whittier.

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