Weekend Words: Catch

Georges de la Tour, “Woman Catching Fleas” (1630s), oil on canvas. Musée Historique, Nancy (Image via Web Gallery of Art)

On Tuesday, legendary wordsmith and Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra passed away at the age of 90. Bruce Weber, writing Berra’s New York Times obituary, cites Yogi as “among the greatest catchers in the history of the game, some say the greatest of all.”

Do nothing hastily but catching of fleas.

—Thomas Fuller

She whom I love is hard to catch and conquer,
Hard, but O the glory of the winning were she won!

—George Meredith, “Love in the Valley”

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.

Joseph Heller, Catch-22

First catch your hare.


Two hundred million Americans, and there ain’t two good catchers among ’em.

—Casey Stengel

So stationed I could catch the Mint
That never ceased to fall—
And just my Basket—
Let me think—I’m sure
That this was all—

—Emily Dickinson, 479

Christ don’t be an ass and say you could go on and write if you know how you stand etc. God knows you’re in the most depressing and discouraging surroundings–but that’s what makes a writer. You have to catch hell. You’ve got to take punishment … Write a lot–but see a lot more. Keep your ears and eyes going and try all the time to get your conversations right.

—Ernest Hemingway, letter to Morley Callaghan

For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.

—Christina Rossetti, De Profundis, lines 13-16

All political power is primarily an illusion. Illusion. Mirrors and blue smoke, beautiful blue smoke rolling over the surface of highly polished mirrors, first a thin veil of blue smoke, then a thick cloud that suddenly dissolves into wisps of blue smoke, the mirrors catching it all, bouncing it back and forth.

—Jimmy Breslin

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? for the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind.

—Vita Sackville-West

Anybody who has had the temerity to write about Jane Austen is aware of two facts: First, that of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness; second, that there are 25 elderly gentlemen living in the neighborhood of London who resent any slight upon her genius as if it were an insult offered to the chastity of their aunts.

—Virginia Woolf

If one cannot catch a bird of paradise, better take a wet hen.

—Nikita Khrushchev

When you grow up your mother says, ‘Wear rubbers or you’ll catch cold.’ When you become an adult you discover that you have the right not to wear rubbers and to see if you catch cold or not. It’s something like that.

—Diane Arbus

My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch on fire or block the refrigerator door, let it be.

—Erma Bombeck

A crank is someone with a new idea — until it catches on.

—Mark Twain

Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish, and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity.

—Karl Marx

This is a moment in history where it is almost hard to catch your breath.

—Hillary Clinton

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