Weekend

Weekend Words: Velvet

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

Govert Teunisz Flinck, "Bearded Man with a Velvet Cap"
Govert Teunisz Flinck, “Bearded Man with a Velvet Cap” (1645), oil on wood, 60 x 52 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (image via Web Gallery of Art)

Today is the 65th birthday of Isabella Rossellini, whose acting career has spanned dozens of films and television shows, but is best remembered for her work in David Lynch’s 1986 comeback movie, Blue Velvet.

A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.

—Napoleon Bonaparte

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

—Henry David Thoreau

Silence is exhilarating at first — as noise is — but there is a sweetness to silence outlasting exhilaration, akin to the sweetness of listening and the velvet of sleep.

—Edward Hoagland

Society is like a lawn where every roughness is smoothed, every bramble eradicated, and where the eye is delighted by the smiling verdure of a velvet surface.

—Washington Irving

The velvet of her paws,
Her coat that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.

—Thomas Gray, “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes”

He looked like an Italian, was dressed like an Englishman, and had the independent air of an American–a combination which caused sundry pairs of feminine eyes to look approvingly after him, and sundry dandies in black velvet suits, with rose-colored neckties, buff gloves, and orange flowers in their buttonholes, to shrug their shoulders, and then envy him his inches.

—Louisa May Alcott

When beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean’s skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang.

—Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

You cannot make, my Lord,
I fear, a velvet purse of a sow’s ear.

—John Walcot, “Lord B. and his Notions”

Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of bar-room vernacular, that is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive.

—Raymond Chandler

I was sat at the bottom of the garden a week ago, smoking a reflective cheroot, thinking about this and that – mostly that, and I just happened to glance at the night sky and I marveled at the millions of stars glistening like pieces of quicksilver thrown carelessly onto black velvet. In awe I watched the waxen moon ride across the zenith of the heavens like an amber chariot towards the void of infinite space wherein the tethered bolts of Jupiter and Mars hang forever in their orbital majesty; and as I looked at all this, I thought, ‘I must put a roof on this lavatory.’

—Les Dawson

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