Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The 10 best closing lines of books — and one of my own

ROBERT MCCRUM of the Observer has compiled his list of the ten best closing lines of books. The list includes:

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Ulysses by James Joyce:
“I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another… then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
Middlemarch by George Eliot:
“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad:
“The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky – seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.”
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain:
“But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”
Speak Memory by Vladimir Nabokov:
“There, in front of us, where a broken row of houses stood between us and the harbour, and where the eye encountered all sorts of stratagems, such as pale-blue and pink underwear cakewalking on a clothesline ... it was most satisfying to make out among the jumbled angles of roofs and walls, a splendid ship’s funnel, showing from behind the clothesline as something in a scrambled picture – Find What the Sailor Has Hidden – that the finder cannot unsee once it has been seen.”
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller:
“The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off.”
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf:
“Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.”
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë:
“I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."
The Tale of Samuel Whiskers by Beatrix Potter:
“But Tom Kitten has always been afraid of a rat; he never durst face anything bigger than – A Mouse.”
Unfortunately Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Conrad's The Heart of Darkness are the only books in this compilation that I've read from start to finish. I tried reading The Great Gatsby months ago, but I got bored somehow. I felt Ulysses was too much for me when I read the first few chapters in 2005; I told this to my then English 12 professor Dr. Carlos Aureus who comforted me with the words, "You never really get it the first time."

For me, though, the best closing line in any work of literature—that which never fails to stir up my soul's excitement, wonder, and yearning—is found in Revelation 22:17-21:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. 
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. 
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” 
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
The apostle John, after writing about his God-given vision of what the Last Days would look like, concludes with a stern warning about taking God's Word seriously and not adding to or removing anything from it. John's anticipation and longing for the second coming of Jesus Christ reflects the utmost desire of all believers: to see the beauty of Jesus Christ and bow down in worship of Him.

I imagine the old writer inside a quiet room, the oil in his lamp about to be consumed during that still night, his pen writing the last words of what would turn out to be the most powerful, life-changing book on Earth on an old, crumpled scroll. He closes his tired eyes, and tears stream down from it as he remembers his friends who have been persecuted and killed because of their faith. He sighs as remembers his Master who taught Him many things, who died for Him, and who showed Him the love and grace of God. The utmost cry of his heart is to be with his Savior, and so he writes, "Come, Lord Jesus."

Oh, to be reminded that Jesus is coming soon. We don't know when exactly, but one day He will come in glory to judge the world and to bring His children with Him in Heaven. And so we all say, Maranatha, the Lord cometh.



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