Pleasurable sentences

“Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure?”
— Gertrude Stein

This quote was cited by Dr. Brooks Landon in the very first lecture of my new class, Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft. He conducted an interesting exploration of the quote and its possible meanings, and then assigned me homework: to list a few sentences that I find pleasurable. What a delightful idea! However, I quickly found that I had trouble separating my emotional response, or affinity for the sentiment expressed by a sentence, from the sentence itself giving me “pleasure” — but then I realized that that was one of his points in the lecture, that he feels you actually can’t separate a sentence’s form from its meaning, and the choice of phrasing does, in fact, alter the message being communicated.

After some musing, here’s what I came up with:

“I cannot read the fiery letters,” said Frodo in a quavering voice. — J.R.R. Tolkien
This sentence is so visually evocative for me that it can’t help being a pleasure. Frodo’s phrasing is also perfect (“cannot” instead of “can’t”, and I just love the term “fiery letters”).
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats
This sentiment really resonates with me, and I think Yeats hit on an eloquent pair of analogies to express it. I also like the parallel construction in the two clauses.
The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. — Henry Miller
How true it is. And each time I read this sentence, I find myself briefly lost in imagining the world inside a blade of grass — a neat magic trick executed by Mr. Miller!
Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company. — George Gordon Byron
I have many quotes on the merits of solitude. This is one of my favorites, and it evokes many happy memories of lounging on my porch, writing letters to distant friends, and feeling as if they were sitting with me, sharing deep conversation in person. I like this sentence for its juxtaposition of apparent antonyms, which yields insight into how they can, in fact, be combined.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You, too? Thought I was the only one. — C.S. Lewis
Again, this one really resonates with me. But I also really like his phrasing, which ably captures the combined feelings of surprise and delight when you strike up a new friendship.
May serendipity enter your door without knocking (but also without using a crowbar). — Elizabeth Vaughan
This sentence was occasioned by a real experience with a real crowbar and my own real front door, but I think it stands quite well on its own even without that memory. The roughness of “crowbar” coming as it does at the end of an otherwise smooth and graceful sentence is like a sudden exhalation that always makes me chuckle.
And a sweet and powerful positive obsession blunts pain, diverts rage, and engages each of us in the greatest, the most intense of our chosen struggles. — Lauren Oya Olamina (Octavia Butler)
It’s always a pleasure when someone provides at least the appearance of a justification for our obsessions.

What sentences bring you pleasure?

Meanwhile, I’m eagerly anticipating the remaining 23 lectures in this series. Thank you, Teaching Company!