Weekend Words: Water

Jacob Philipp Hackert, “The Waterfalls at Terni” (1779), oil on canvas, 98 x 80 cm (image via Web Gallery of Art)

On Thursday, the Guardian reported that officials in Portland, Oregon, plan to flush millions of gallons of drinking water “for the second time in less than three years because someone urinated into a city reservoir.”

The article goes on to say that while “urine poses little risk – animals routinely deposit waste without creating a public health crisis,” Portland’s Water Bureau administrator David Shaff preferred not “to serve water that was deliberately tainted.”

“There is at least a perceived difference from my perspective,” Shaff said. “I could be wrong on that, but the reality is our customers don’t anticipate drinking water that’s been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir.”

“When I makes tea I makes tea, as old mother Grogan said. And when I makes water I makes water… Begob, ma’am says Mrs. Cahill, God send you don’t make them in the same pot.”

—James Joyce, Ulysses

“Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter. Sermons and soda water the day after.”

—Lord (George Gordon) Byron

“There is a poignancy in all things clear,
In the stare of the deer, in the ring of a hammer in the morning.
Seeing a bucket of perfectly lucid water,
We fall to imagining prodigious honesties.”

—Richard Wilbur, “Clearness”

“You can’t trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it.”

—W. C. Fields

“I have always heard, Sancho, that doing good to base fellows is like throwing water into the sea.”

—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

“Sweeter than the flesh of tart apples to children, the green water penetrates my hull.”

—Arthur Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat

“Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water.”

—The Women’s Petition Against Coffee (1674)

“I believe in getting into hot water. I think it keeps you clean.”

—G. K. Chesterton

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