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Desert

  • This is one of the charms of the desert, that removing as it does nearly all the accessories of life, we see the thin thread of necessities on which our human existence is suspended ...

  • Summer on the desert dies like a snake. You think it's done for, dead as a doornail, then there comes another fierce burst of life. And even that violent lashing may not be final.

  • ... an autumn day on the desert contains every season. ... Before dawn it was bitter winter, with the stars sparkling in the black desert sky. At six there was a short spring. The mountains were rosy and suddden thunderstorms moving down from Snow Peak dampened the sand and set loose the scents of all the countless flowers that had blossomed and perished there. By noon it was blazing summer. ... Sundown would bring the day and the season into some congruity. Dusk brought not only nightfall, but the year's fall as well, a real autumn of an hour's duration.

  • The desert is a nun, for no man's wooing, / Vowed to eternal silence through the years, / Serene, unchangeable, past all pursuing, / And all neglect. The desert knows no tears.

  • I saw the desert, it grew upon me. There are times, when I have sorrows, that I hunger and thirst for it ...

  • The red Sahara in an angry glow, / With amber fogs, across its hollows trailed / Long strings of camels, gloomy-eyed and slow ...

    • Jean Ingelow,
    • "The Four Bridges," The Poetical Works of Jean Ingelow ()
  • The desert came into view ... sand and palm trees, a way of life that revolved around human beings without possessions or skills, who had to rely on their imaginations to contrive a way of making their hearts beat faster or even to keep them at a normal pace; to search unaided for a hidden gleam of light, and to live with two seasons a year instead of four.

    • Hanan al-Shaykh,
    • in Catherine Cobham, trans., Women of Sand and Myrrh ()
  • ... the Sahara was a spectacle as alive as the sea. The tints of the dunes changed according to the time of day and the angle of the light: golden as apricots from far off, when we drove close to them they turned to freshly made butter; behind us they grew pink; from sand to rock, the materials of which the desert was made varied as much as its tints ...

  • Ye great slow-moving ones, faithful as care is faithful, / Uncouth as dreams may be, sluggish as far-off ships, — / What bring ye me, O camels?

  • When your eye is so trained that it may discover the beauty that dwells in that vast, still corner of the world, and your ear is attuned to catch the music of the plains or the anthems sung in deep cañons by the winds; when your heart finds comradeship in the mountains and the great sand-seas, the sun and the stars, and the huge cloud-drifts that the Desert winds set a-rolling round the world — when all these reach your heart by way of your eye and your ear, then you shall find one of the alluring ways that belongs to the Desert.

  • The Desert proclaiming itself, speaks gently. ... if you and the Desert have found each other, surely you will feel the drawing of your soul toward the eternal calm — the brooding peace that is there in the gray country.

  • For all the toll the desert takes of a man it gives compensations, deep breaths, deep sleep, and the communion of the stars.

  • The palpable sense of mystery in the desert air breeds fables, chiefly of lost treasure. ... It is a question whether it is not better to be bitten by the little horned snake of the desert that goes sidewise and strikes without coiling, than by the tradition of a lost mine.

  • The desert floras shame us with their cheerful adaptations to the seasonal limitations. Their whole duty is to flower and fruit, and they do it hardly, or with tropical luxuriance, as the rain admits. ... One hopes the land may breed like qualities in her human offspring, not tritely to 'try,' but to do.

  • To wake in that desert dawn was like waking in the heart of an opal. ... See the desert on a fine morning and die — if you can!

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • in Janet E. Courtney, An Oxford Portrait Gallery ()
  • Night comes to the desert all at once, as if someone turned off a light.

  • Much has been written about the beauty, the stillness, the terror of the desert but little about its flies.

  • It is true there is a scent in the desert, though there may be no flower or tree or blade of grass within miles. It is the essence of the untrodden, untarnished earth herself!

  • The desert has a subtle and a cruel charm. She destroys while she enthralls.

  • ... the desert breeds reserve. It is so big that one's own plans and projects seem too little to be talked about. Also, there is so much time to say anything that one continually puts it off and ends by never saying it at all.

  • ... in the desert the detachment of life from all normal intercourse imparts a sense of gravity to every rencontre, and each touch with human beings is fraught with a significance lacking in the too hurried intercourse of ordinary everyday life. On the desert track, there is no such thing as a casual meeting ...

  • Without water the desert is nothing but a grave ...

  • [On the desert:] The wind was a constant, and when you paid attention, it seemed like the earth's own breathing.

  • [On the desert:] Abandoned of God and man, that it how it looks. No one can travel here and come back the same. It sets its seal upon you, for good or ill.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1914, in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()