“Some people meet the way the sky meets the earth— inevitably, and there is no stopping or holding back their love. It exists in a finished world, beyond the reach of common sense.”—Louise Erdrich (via katyjean)
“Tell me what’s the difference
between hope and waiting
because my heart doesn’t know
It constantly cuts itself on the glass of waiting
It constantly gets lost in the fog of hope”—Anna Kamienska, Difference. trans. Grazyna Drabik and David Curzon (via yesyes)
I don’t want to be a person. I’d much rather be a bolt of lightning. One brilliant powerful flash of pure natural energy and then you’re done. One moment of magnificence instead of a lifetime of mediocrity.
“I was having a dream. I don’t know what it was, but when I woke up, I had this awful realization that I was awake. It hit me like a brick in the groin. (…) I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”—Craig, It’s Kind of a Funny Story,Ned Vizzini (via regarding-books)
“She fit her head under his chin, and he could feel her weight settle into him. He held her tight and words spilled out of him without prior composition. And this time he made no effort to clamp them off. He told her about the first time he had looked on the back of her neck as she sat in the church pew. Of the feeling that had never let go of him since. He talked to her of the great waste of years between then and now. A long time gone. And it was pointless, he said, to think how those years could have been put to better use, for he could hardly have put them to worse. There was no recovering them now. You could grieve endlessly for the loss of time and the damage done therein. For the dead, and for your own lost self. But what the wisdom of the ages says is that we do well not to grieve on and on. And those old ones knew a thing or two and had some truth to tell, Inman said, for you can grieve your heart out and in the end you are still where you are. All your grief hasn’t changed a thing. What you have lost will not be returned to you. It will always be lost. You’re left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on or not. But if you go on, it’s knowing you carry your scars with you. Nevertheless, over all those wasted years, he had held in his mind the wish to kiss her on the back of her neck, and now he had done it. There was a redemption of some kind, he believed, in such complete fulfillment of a desire so long deferred.”—Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain (via bookmania)
Unacceptable; outside agreed standards of decency.
Firstly, let’s get the spelling clear here. It’s ‘beyond the pale’, and certainly not ‘beyond the pail’ - the phrase has nothing to do with buckets. The everyday use of the word ‘pale’ is as an adjective meaning whitish and light in colour (and used to that effect by Procol Harum and in countless paint adverts). This ‘pale’ is the noun meaning ‘a stake or pointed piece of wood’. That meaning is virtually obsolete now except as used in this phrase, but is still in use in the associated words ‘paling’ (as in paling fence) and ‘impale’ (as in Dracula movies).
The paling fence is significant as the term pale became to mean the area enclosed by such a fence and later just the figurative meaning of ‘the area that is enclosed and safe’. So, to be ‘beyond the pale’ was to be outside the area accepted as ‘home’.
Catherine the Great created the Pale of Settlement in Russia in 1791. This was the name given to the western border region of the country, in which Jews were allowed to live. The motivation behind this was to restrict trade between Jews and native Russians. Some Jews were allowed to live, as a concession, ‘beyond the pale’.
Pales were enforced in various other European countries for similar political reasons, notably in Ireland (the Pale of Dublin) and France (the Pale of Calais, which was formed as early as 1360).
The phrase itself originated later than that. The first printed reference comes from 1657 in John Harington’s lyric poem The History of Polindor and Flostella. In that work, the character Ortheris withdraws with his beloved to a country lodge for ‘quiet, calm and ease’, but later venture further:
"Both Dove-like roved forth beyond the pale to planted Myrtle-walk".
Such recklessness rarely meets with a good end in 17th century verse and before long the lovers are attacked by armed men with ‘many a dire killing thrust’. The message is clear - ‘if there is a pale, decent people stay inside it’, which conveys exactly the figurative meaning of the phrase as it is used today.