Has a book or piece of artwork ever made you weep?

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Has a book or piece of artwork ever made you weep?

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Redigeret: aug 12, 2007, 5:29 pm

It's said that when Mark Rothko's paintings first went on display, people wept in the face of their tragic, transcendent beauty. Has a piece of art or a scene in a book ever made you weep?

What first comes to mind for me is THE YEARLING. I homeschooled my youngest son, and I bought the book for him to read; I don't think I'd have ever read it otherwise. The scene where the deer is killed is just heartbreakingly rendered. Rawlings captured that moment completely without sentimentality. I definitely cried. My son, who was probably about 13 at the time and who never cries over art said he "almost" cried. That was a big statement, coming from him.

What has made you weep, if anything?

aug 6, 2007, 5:04 pm

Many years ago I was wandering in the British Museum, London. A more than life-sized/seated wooden figure stopped me in my tracks. I stood in front of it (him) and wept. I later learned this was a "tutelary figure" meant to serve as a good example to young monks. (Alas, I have forgotten his name, and years, but a framed picture of him is on the shelf above my kitchen sink and we have lived thus together for a longlong time.) Esta1923

aug 6, 2007, 8:48 pm

Vincent van Gogh's letters to his brother in "Dear Theo" had that effect on me.

That people have so much to give, and yet end up so alone, in his case, due to possible mental illness.

Today, he would have been on SSRI's or something.

What comes out in those letters is really what a kind and generous soul he was.

Redigeret: aug 8, 2007, 9:32 pm

I was in tears when I first visited the Courtauld Institute gallery in London and stood face to face with the Cézannes there... I've cried more than once during an Al Strehli song (especially if Jimmie Dale Gilmore is singing it)... same with Lucinda Williams, Nina Simone, Iris Dement, Jo Carol Pierce, Sweet Honey in the Rock... When I heard the Klezmatics perform music by Woody Guthrie, I cried. My friend Seth Boustead set a poem by Li Nan to music that makes me cry every time I hear it--as the poem made me cry the first time I encountered it. Books, visual art, poetry, theater... I've stopped and wept at the sound of erhu on the street in Shenzhen and saxophone in Chicago... The list is long... I must be a basket case! On this subject, by the way, I suppose you know James Elkins' book Pictures & Tears (Routledge, 2001)...

aug 8, 2007, 7:21 pm

I hope I'm not lowering the tone here, but every time I have read aloud (three or four times now as my children came along) Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White, I really had trouble getting through the death of Charlotte, and usually wound up with some tears on my cheeks.
Two nights ago I heard Bach's St. Matthew Passion on XM Radio. My brother (who died young ten years ago) always loved this music, but I am not sure I got it then. But this stopped me in my tracks (the sadness!, the pity!) before I realized what it was.
I will look for Pictures and Tears, thanks!

Redigeret: aug 9, 2007, 12:02 pm

I have cried more than once at the description of Philip Nolan's berth at the end of The Man without a Country One of my favorite stories. I tend to cry at movies and stories that intentionally set out to manipulate me. I guess I'm just easy.

Redigeret: aug 8, 2007, 8:17 pm

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

Redigeret: aug 8, 2007, 9:04 pm

I am looking for the capacity to weep. I am happy for the ones here who cry often and freely in the face of art. I cry occasionally. Movies often make me cry, but I want to weep if I ever see the original Guernoca. I mentioned that the killing of the deer in THE YEARLING had made me cry as an adult. But I want to weep when I read Richard Ford and Miguel Unamuno. I have deep experiences with these things, but I don't weep. I want to find my capacity to weep at these things.

By the way, Charlotte's Web is NOT lowering the bar. What a beautiful story!

aug 8, 2007, 9:27 pm

</i>It's a very mysterious process, weeping and not weeping, isn't it? I cry easily and wish I had more control, yet there are times when I feel people expect tears from me and I don't cry. I almost always cry, for example, when someone dies in a film I'm watching or a book I'm reading (assuming it's not a violent death - violent movies and TV shows are a different animal altogether, and I try to avoid them, which is becoming almost impossible). And I cry uncontrollably at funerals, which is why I hate to go to them. But I don't always cry when someone I know dies, though I will spend time thinking deeply.

I think we have to accept our emotional experiences for what they are, because if we get down to the bottom of them, they are always real. Trying to cry when the tears don't come naturally is as false as shutting off the tears in order to stay cool or in control. The key is to allow ourselves to feel what we are really feeling. Tears can mask what we're feeling as easily as keeping a stiff upper lip can. They can mean anger as well as sorrow, for example, and it's not always easy to know which. Or guilt. Or fear.

Weeping for characters in a book is somehow luxurious to me in a way that weeping about real life generally isn't. Real life is messy. I think we read fiction and poetry, listen to music, look at art, because these things take aspects of life and put them into a certain order for us that helps us feel a greater sense of order in our messy real lives.

aug 8, 2007, 9:27 pm

</i>It's a very mysterious process, weeping and not weeping, isn't it? I cry easily and wish I had more control, yet there are times when I feel people expect tears from me and I don't cry. I almost always cry, for example, when someone dies in a film I'm watching or a book I'm reading (assuming it's not a violent death - violent movies and TV shows are a different animal altogether, and I try to avoid them, which is becoming almost impossible). And I cry uncontrollably at funerals, which is why I hate to go to them. But I don't always cry when someone I know dies, though I will spend time thinking deeply.

I think we have to accept our emotional experiences for what they are, because if we get down to the bottom of them, they are always real. Trying to cry when the tears don't come naturally is as false as shutting off the tears in order to stay cool or in control. The key is to allow ourselves to feel what we are really feeling. Tears can mask what we're feeling as easily as keeping a stiff upper lip can. They can mean anger as well as sorrow, for example, and it's not always easy to know which. Or guilt. Or fear.

Weeping for characters in a book is somehow luxurious to me in a way that weeping about real life generally isn't. Real life is messy. I think we read fiction and poetry, listen to music, look at art, because these things take aspects of life and put them into a certain order for us that helps us feel a greater sense of order in our messy real lives.

aug 8, 2007, 9:31 pm

"amen" to Theresa's comment about Charlotte's Web... and I would add The Velveteen Rabbit, (a book I used to require for introductory philosophy students struggling with Hegel, who also made them cry--but for other reasons, I'm afraid!)...

and Unamuno himself said (in Tragic Sense of Life) that it would be good if we would learn to go out into the streets and weep...

aug 8, 2007, 9:33 pm

was just about to go looking for the italics culprit when i discovered it was me... ;) my apologies!

Redigeret: aug 8, 2007, 9:52 pm

Oh, THE VELVETEEN RABBIT. I definitely felt a stab when I saw you'd written that title. That book pulls deep things from me. I recently bought myself a brand new copy of that one.

And Unamuno, has anyone here read "Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr"? When I floated the entire Ohio River in 2005, I happened upon a used bookstore and found an ancient copy of Spanish stories and tales. "Saint Manuel" was among them. The feeling of lying in the rocking boat and reading this story is something I can't yet describe. The story filled me with such brooding, such...duende!

I feel I have a capacity for tears. I have to find that capacity inside myself. That capacity in me was lost. I'm on a quest to find it again

aug 9, 2007, 1:00 pm

I have a similar experience to Margad. Tears come easily when reading or watching a movie where a character dies. My older two children are the same, which meant I had to do a lot of previewing (it's amazing how often characters die in children's literature and movies.) My youngest, age 5, is made of tougher stuff and often takes the role of comforter.
Theresa, your brooding is a valid reaction to what you read. I don't think tears have deeper meaning. Our feelings are just stirred in different ways. We are also affected in different ways at different stages of our lives. Reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a teenager brought me to tears when Aslan was killed. Reading the book to my children, I was more affected by his resurrection. My own experiences at that point in my life (I had almost died from a severe asthma attack) made me react in a different way.

aug 9, 2007, 1:28 pm

Poetry, mainly: e.g., Stafford's 'Stillborn,' and a poem by Bob Hicok, the title of which escapes me, but it has a line that goes, 'and if I made the tiny coffins / I would run away from my hands'. As for literature, the chapter in 'The Killer Angels' entitled 'Armistead,' and a couple of sections in McCarthy's 'Suttree.'

aug 11, 2007, 2:44 pm

I think there's something inherent in great childrens' literature that summons tears for me more easily than "realist" adult lit. In addition to those already mentioned (Charlotte's Web and The Velveteen Rabbit), Antoine de St.-Exupéry's The Little Prince always brings me to tears at least twice: when the fox is explaining how the little prince should tame him, and how it will make him sad when the prince goes away but how he'd like it to happen anyway; and when the prince is explaining to the narrator how he has to go back to his planet but will always remain in the narrator's memory. So many beautiful little parables in that book. I think good children's lit can speak in a very stripped-down, laden language that adult literature doesn't usually approach. For me, old-school blues recordings sometimes have this as well. It's like, in telling the simplest and most stripped-down story possible, all of the energy that would otherwise be expended on realist details is channeled into raw, inarticulable emotion or truth. I'm thinking particularly of songs like "Deep Blue Sea" and Ma Rainey's "Blues O Blues."

That said, there are plenty of adult novels that make me cry, too. I agree with jugglingpaynes that tears aren't a privileged "deep" reaction above others - thinking for a long time, feeling nauseous, feeling elated, laughing uncontrollably, etc. But it is interesting to think about what brings them on. I find myself most likely to cry when there is a lot of emotion in the story that's not directly discussed or acknowledged. One novel that comes to mind is Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues, which is very affecting because the main character expresses herself in a very taciturn (butch) manner. And because the story is really sad, of course.

17wordgarden Første besked:
Redigeret: aug 12, 2007, 2:52 pm

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

aug 12, 2007, 11:09 am

I cried when I read the The Happy Prince and the The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, they'rejust so simple and bittersweet tales.

aug 12, 2007, 11:54 am

the first book that made me cry was The Outsiders, but really anytime one of my favorite character's die in a book I weep. The last movie that had my crying was DelToro's Pan's Labyrinth, and not to sound silly but when I visited the Getty museum and I first came face to face with VanGogh's Iris's I cried.

aug 12, 2007, 2:23 pm

And when LGL sings the Neruda Songs. . . Esta1923

aug 12, 2007, 2:31 pm

Esta #20: Who is LGL and how might one possess these Neruda songs? :-D

aug 12, 2007, 5:18 pm

A Christmas Carol gets me every time. My students are often shocked at my reaction but pleased to see their teacher showing her emotions.

aug 12, 2007, 5:25 pm

I quite agree about A Christmas Carol, although I've not read it in years (I need to!) but experienced it only through the very old movie version. Scrooge's transformation is quite extraordinary.

aug 12, 2007, 5:31 pm

Pardon! Lorraine Hunt Lieberson!!! Don't know how mistaken middle name got there!! Esta

aug 12, 2007, 8:28 pm

The childbirth description in Anna Karenina got me going.

aug 13, 2007, 2:39 am

Neruda Songs by Lieberman is on sale at Barnes & Noble dot com.


I wondered, while looking there, why I had never heard of her.


aug 13, 2007, 10:54 am

There is only one place in the entire LoTR that I feel moved to anything beyond happiness to reach the end of another excruciatingly dull chapter (I'm not a fan). In the last volume there are several appendices, one (f ?) tells the story of what happens to Samwise Gamgee after all the adventures. I invariably cry when, after living a long, full, happy life in Hobbiton, he is approached by riders from the Grey Havens who have come to take him oversea as the last of the ring bearers. Such an honor for such a lowly Hobbit.

aug 13, 2007, 5:11 pm

I can tear up pretty easily when watching movies, reading books, etc., but weeping, that's rare. Here's an admission: I wept like a little girl at the last 50 or so pages of the last Harry Potter (Don't worry, no spoiling). I cried in recognition of the entire journey, the entire accomplishment, the resolution, for the little boy who grows into a man at the forefront of the battle of good versus evil and for his friends.

Find Me, Judas Child and Dead Famous by Carol O'Connell have also gotten me good.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Redigeret: aug 13, 2007, 6:45 pm

I cry often, though not always from grief. Music-- live music especially-- often causes me to cry from excitement, and even from happiness.

Books that make me cry are usually from either sadness or from the talent of the author-- there's a scene in a story from Birds of America by Lorrie Moore, where the protagonist is finishing lunch with her Mom at an Irish pub, and realizes she's tying to seduce her mother, that is so insightful and so confessional/revelatory it still tears me up just writing about it. And a poem, Why I'm Not A Buddhist, by Molly Peacock, from Original Love: Poems, the last two lines of which are something like "for my sister, all hope gone / take these rags of love" which I read for the first time at a restaurant at lunch hour, and the waitress actually came over to see if I was OK (as tears streamed down my face).

Jonathan Safran Foer has made me cry, even at the funny parts-- like when I realized the kid in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was probably OCD or had Asperger's. It was brilliant, hilarious, revealing, and very, very sad all at the same time.

I find weeping (not, to be sure, the uncontrollable variety) is very empowering and humanizing. I learned it at 12-step meetings when I was nearly 40, and it's stuck with me. It might not be an exaggeration to say even humor and happiness can be sad.

(edited to fix touchstone and conclusion)

Redigeret: aug 14, 2007, 2:16 am

I am envious of all these tears. Just as soon as a book or piece of art makes me cry, you all will be the first to know. I agree about the humanizing aspect of tears. One of the things I love about Native American literature is that the characters cry. Sherman Alexie describes a father's tears, and it's so touching. And he also writes of a sad, alienated man saying, simply, "I want a bowl of soup." I feel that. It connects me with desire and need. But, drat it all, where are my tears?

Movies make me cry, but lately why not books and art? The other night I was watching My Life as a Dog and was caught totally unaware by my tears when the little boy asked, "Why didn't she want me?" He meant his mother.

I love Lorrie Moore: why can't I cry at a Lorrie Moore story?

aug 14, 2007, 8:06 am

Many times. I'm a sucker for a great piece of Art or literature.

Most recently, I was helpless in front of Van Gogh's 'irises' and 'almond tree' that are hung next to each other in Amsterdam. I was overwhelmed by the colours, the vibrant images and the sheer scale of the paintings. The two next to each other just made me weep. The same thing happened to my friend (whom I hadn't told) in the same place: she said it was like being punched in the chest.

I can't count how many times poetry makes me cry: if something's beautifully written, poignant and true I will blub for England. Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto always brings the tears, as does most opera. Really, I'm an emotional flake and shouldn't be allowed near Art...

aug 14, 2007, 10:11 am

It is writing that moves me to wonder, painting and sculpture that can push me to awe, but music that makes me weep. What a human noise.

Redigeret: aug 15, 2007, 3:14 pm

I wonder if the fact that you're a writer and a writing teacher, Theresa, gets in the way of full immersion in a piece of literature. I know that I now read much more critically than I once did, and any little clumsiness in the writer's language or scene construction (or even an unexpected brilliance of craftsmanship) activates my inner editor and prevents me from sinking into that state where the writing essentially disappears and acts, instead, as a perfectly transparent window into the world of the story.

It's a rare novel that grabs me in that way now. One that totally captured me a few years ago was Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. Pulling back to see how she achieved this, I'm aware of how strongly sensory, almost tactile her writing is.

aug 15, 2007, 4:50 pm

margad: Being a writer and writing teacher may indeed have something to do with it. As I think about this subject more, I think the reason might be deeper. When I cry at a movie, I feel a lot of embarrassment, and I also feel a little afraid. I think I try to be reserved for fear of letting the floodgates open, because what will happen to me if I give it up (the reserve) and cry. Crying is good, but it also is a little scary; what if I won't be able to stop?? Perhaps I am trying to "protect" myself. I'm not sure. These thoughts are only just now coming to me.

aug 15, 2007, 6:58 pm

Theresa, I'm with you there. For years I thought if I started to cry, I wouldn't be able to stop. I never cried from the time I was about 14 until I was almost 40. And after that, I practiced, believe it or not, and found it's not difficult to control. I have found it's both a great release and a good feeling to stay that emotionally exposed. And if I don't want anyone to know I'm crying, that's easy, though wiping the eyes is a dead giveaway.

And as for Message #32, music is indeed the art form that can nearly always make me weep when it's good. And operatic singing does it strikingly well-- Teresa Stratas, Dawn Upshaw, Jessye Norman. Wonderful.

aug 15, 2007, 11:26 pm

abirdman, it's good to know I'm not the only one (smile). Crying is a great release; I always wonder after it is over why I fought it so much. Perhaps it is my way of failing to enter completely into life or perhaps I'm just afraid to be too vulnerable, to lose control that way. When I watch a movie and I feel like I'm about to cry, my eyes start to burn and I try not to rub my eyes, but then they get all watery and I have to, and I think to myself, "I'm Busted!" (smile)

aug 16, 2007, 7:51 pm

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

aug 17, 2007, 3:23 am

I'm always able to stop if I'm crying about literature or a movie. The book or movie ends, and the source of the tears is gone, so the tears are too. Tears that come from life aren't like that. Maybe that's one reason why it's so satisfying to cry over books and movies. I get the release of having cried without the personal emotional pain - or the puffy eyes the next morning.

aug 19, 2007, 12:49 pm

I guess I've always been a big blubbering baby. As a kid Where the Red Fern Grows kept me up all night, weeping. More recently, Dave Smith's elegy for William Matthews, "Coming Down in Ohio," from his Little Boats, Unsalvaged has moved me to weep more than once. Also, Larry Levis' Elegy, James Agee's A Death in the Family, and Donald Hall's White Apples and the Taste of Stone all reduced me, at one point or other, to tears. Of course, there are days when looking at a flower can make me sob. Like I said, I'm a big blubbering baby.

aug 19, 2007, 2:33 pm

Well, here's to big blubbering babies, JMatthews, I salute you.

41marie_l Første besked:
aug 20, 2007, 7:00 pm

Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 in c# minor, op.131: VI. Adagio quasi un poco andante, every time.

Redigeret: aug 20, 2007, 8:26 pm

Both. There is an amazing little book called The Wisdom of a Starry Night by Sharon Marson that no one seems to have - I bought it at Borders for $9.99 and now it sells used on Amazon for ~ $60. Anyway, it is dedicated to the notion that great works of art combined with insightful questions can lead to epiphany. For example, the Mona Lisa is combined with Who do you feel watches over you? What dreams do you have for yourself? is paired with Georgia O'Keefe's Clouds. Matisse's Icarus is combined with When do you feel liberated? The combinations lead to very interesting and often emotional responses.
The end of the book is thumbprints of the art and questions with answers collected from people of all ages. Some of the children's responses are so simple and beautiful. The response of Rosie, age 81 to the question In what do you lose yourself? combined with Gustav Klimt's Fulfilment caused me to burst into tears. Her answer: Memories. This one word burst forth images of deep love and loss that welled up in me and I wept.

aug 22, 2007, 12:45 am

The current mine disaster reminds me I cry each time I near the end of Rumer Godden's beautiful book, "In this house of Brede." Only then do we learn of the tragedy that shaped the life of its central character. Vivid, wonderful writing! Esta1923

aug 22, 2007, 12:54 am

Esta, I do not know that book. But regarding stories of mine disasters, I am reminded of a story that I have found to be powerful and unforgettable: D. H. Lawrence's "Odour of Chrysanthemums." I've never cried after reading it, but the story does open up my heart to things in a really big way.

aug 22, 2007, 11:43 am

In This House of Brede may be my wife's favorite book. If you can find it, you should read it. I think you'll like it.

okt 19, 2007, 4:02 am

I caught this thread late, being a newcomer to the group *waves* but I had to contribute to this thread. There is so much beauty and poignancy in life that sometimes I find it hard to take it all in. Anyone else ever feel that way? Sometimes I feel my heart will burst from it all.

As to books, art, and music: Like many of you, the first time I saw a Van Gogh in person I had a very emotional response... I collapsed (literally, good thing there was a bench behind it. They must have had that happen before. *grin*) and then slowly let the tears fall from my face in wonder. It was called "The Mulberry Tree" at The Norton Simon in Pasadena.

Music: "This Woman's Worth" by Kate Bush gets me everytime. The first time I listened to it was when I waiting to find out whether or not my sister was going to live through a tragedy that nearly cost her life. Also, I find "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "Hallelujah" by Cohen very haunting and mournful in their sorrowful beauty.

As for books, the last one I remember bawling through was "Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton. I'm sure there are many many others but I don't to appear TOO much of a sap on my first comment! *chuckle*

Redigeret: okt 19, 2007, 12:45 pm

This is cruel in the extreme, making a guy admit that he cries.

I cried at the ending of the movie "Reds".

I wept at the death of a beloved character in Larry McMurtry's LONESOME DOVE. Turned to my wife as we read in bed and said: "I have to cry a bit, okay?"

I wept when I read the introductory pages of Stephen Pressfield's account of the battle of Thermopolae. The Spartan king Leonidas' rejoinder when the Persian ruler Xerxes commanded the Greeks to lay down their weapons. "Molon labe," he snarled ("Come and get them"). Tales of sacrifice ALWAYS set me off.

No retreat, no surrender: if there's a motto I follow to the grim end, it's that one.

okt 19, 2007, 1:28 pm

Ah yes, Where the Red Fern Grows made me cry too!

#42 - I can see that happening in my own experience as well.

The week I spent in Paris back in 2002, I was so filled with emotions and life that I could hardly fit inside my skin. The Louve, the Musee d'Orsay the Rodin sculptures. These were the stuff I'd been dreaming about since my years in school and all that art history. Seeing the impressionist and expressionist paintings in person was simply loaded with impact for me (all of them!)

Yet, the thing that made me cry was the entry to the Paris underground...the beautiful the art nouveau iron work! Ah, it makes me so happy to think of it. I love the art nouveau period! It seems so wickedly different and unique. (granted that is sweeping generalization, but my love of it stems from pure emotion and nostalgia!)

Also, I will never forget seeing the Monet Lillies in the art museum in St. Louis one year (long ago). I was there with my four year old son and my husband's family. When I walked into the room, the entire wall surface in front of us was covered with three large paintings. Even my son was still and quiet. I felt honored to be there.

Redigeret: okt 19, 2007, 9:49 pm

I was stunned when I saw some of the impressionist paintings at the Jeu de Paume in Paris many years ago. I had seen some of them many, many times before in art books or as prints and thought them beautiful. But a reproduction simply can't compare to an original painting. I'm not sure why. It should be possible to reproduce the colors accurately. Perhaps it's the texture, which creates subtle highlights and shadows? I didn't cry, though. I'm not sure why paintings don't move me in quite this way. Music sometimes makes me cry. Novels very often. Yes, Cliff, I know the scene in Lonesome Dove that you are referring to, and I was reading through a haze of tears by that point. I cry at funerals, too - even of people I barely knew.

okt 19, 2007, 10:48 pm

Lonesone Dove is just a spectacular piece of writing. Cliff, that description of you...in the bed...what you said: if you don't use that in a story, I will! I'm serious. You got me there, buddy. Right in the palm of your hand.

okt 20, 2007, 1:28 am

Man, we're a soppy bunch. And, y'know, it's getting worse the older I get. The emotions getting closer to the surface rather than hidden under a hard callous of experience. Why is that? Maybe I understand loss better now.

Theresa, you're welcome to use that scene any way you like--god knows, someone's gotta make something worthwhile out of my odd life.

Margad, always a pleasure...

okt 21, 2007, 10:34 pm

Shakespeare, the speech Henry V gives just before the battle of Agincourt. "We happy few...band of brothers". Gets me every time. Throat closes up, eyes water, immensely powerful stuff.

okt 21, 2007, 11:26 pm

I would be surprised if there are readers of Dickens who, while enjoying his novels, can say they haven't had to, at the very least, repress tears at some point. There are a couple of points in "Bleak House" that I find moving, in particular Sir Leicester's devotion to Lady Dedlock.

The sublime completeness of Eliot's "Middlemarch" forced several tears up.

I'm under the impression she considered it a failure (I can't remember where I read this...), but I found the "Time Passes" section of Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" intensely moving.

"Where the Red Fern Grows" made me cry as a child; I've not read it in years.

As for music, the list would be far too lengthy.

okt 22, 2007, 12:00 am

Although I've cried while reading a few books, the only book that ever made me "weep" was Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. The scene where Pilate cries out for mercy was among the best literature I've ever read. I feel like weeping now.

okt 22, 2007, 1:19 am

Funny that you should mention crying at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows. I must be so calous, not crying at the end. I barely felt sad, actually.

Now, Lonesome Dove, I teared up pretty bad. And Bridge to Terabithia, I bawled, baby bawls with hiccups and everything. Same with The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Just like the Velveteen Rabbit.

As for music, I only cry when I here my friends sing out of tune. Don't ask why, it's not beautiful or anything, I just tear up for some reason. Also, at the part in the Fellowship of the Ring (movie) where Frodo turns and looks so sad for Gandalf. I tear up on that one too.

Got tissues?

okt 22, 2007, 11:41 am

The Fan Man. I cry for hours, every time I read it. It's strange, because people say it's hilarious. But it breaks my heart.

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail too.

The Fantasticks, Godspell, and Snoopy the Musical.

okt 22, 2007, 12:09 pm

I don't cry often and I try not to be manipulated or affected by a book. I hate sentimentality or soppy romantic death scenes. However, any mention of an animal dying and I am done. There is a scene in a Paul Zindel book - can't remember which one - where this animal (ferret, racoon) is stuck in a burning house. His description of it's terror - I still have trouble picturing it. Bambi had me bawling.

The last book I cried at was The glass castle. My dad is very similar to her father and I cried for so many reasons - too many to get into.

Another time I cried was Cry, the beloved country. The last page was so heartbreaking.

In movies I cry easily. Sometimes for death, but more often for poignant losses. Cinema Paradiso had me crying - just for the loss of an era.

I do think that I understand life better now. My understanding of romance, loss, death, change is so much richer. But, I find it harder to take chances now because of it. Consequences seem much closer and hardship seems harder to recover from.

okt 22, 2007, 12:22 pm

#57 - Cinema Paradiso, my god! Is it possible not to cry?

Along the lines of Italian flicks, I weep, ache, sob, at the end of il Postino.

okt 22, 2007, 1:13 pm


FAN MAN is a big favorite of mine--has Kotzwinkle ever written better? Not to my mind. Great choice, fantastic book...

nov 18, 2007, 11:26 am

Not a book or piece of art, but episode 7 from season 1 of Six Feet Under was the last thing that brought tears to my eyes. A brother struggles to come to terms with the death of his brother from Gulf War Syndrome and his subsequent feelings about military service.

nov 19, 2007, 12:22 am

Six Feet Under was a wonderful series. My husband and I rented it on DVD and watched compusively several episodes a week until we went through the whole thing. There was something deeply therapeutic about the way they blended humor and pain and insight.

nov 19, 2007, 12:10 pm

41 > Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 in c# minor, op.131: VI. Adagio quasi un poco andante, every time.

Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte and the climbs and falls of Barber's Adagio get me soppy pretty quickly.

nov 20, 2007, 12:19 am

I've loved Ravel's Pavane since I was a teenager.

nov 20, 2007, 9:41 am

Book 18 of the Iliad, when Achilles goes out onto the field of battle and gives voice to his despair, frustration, grief and guilt. I can remember hiding my eyes when someone was reading this passage aloud so that they wouldn't see my tears, then I heard the crack in the voice and looked up to see tears streaming down his face as he read. Of the four people in the room, three wept. I can't read this passage without weeping.

nov 26, 2007, 10:13 am

When I think of heart-wrenchers and THE ILIAD, I think of King Priam, spirited out of Troy by the gods so he can beg Achilles for the return of his son Hector's body. The scene where Priam and Achilles confront each other and Achilles' rage and pride diminish for a brief time in the face of a father's love for his child. After close to 3,000 years, Homer's power and talent are still awe-inspiring. That's the kind of literary immortality writers dream about...

nov 27, 2007, 12:15 am

Actually, many historians now believe that Homer didn't write most of it. It was loosely written, and people added on to it. That's just one theory. It's interesting to read the entire forward to the newest copies of the Iliad and the Odyssey. It explains it better.

nov 28, 2007, 4:15 pm

54 - Bigal,

I just finished Song of Solomon by Morrison a few weeks ago... I must admit, I didn't weep. But, I was so moved by the book that it is definitely my favorite book of all times.

The only author that has actually moved me to tears is Nicholas Sparks. (Is that cheezy or what?) I'm not saying it a timeless piece of literary fiction... but The Notebook had me crying like a baby.

nov 28, 2007, 5:57 pm

me too #67... long before it was a movie.

I just finished a book of poetry by Deborah Garrison that had me, hook, line and sinker. Cried, laughed and all!

Cliff, It's been a while since I laid eyes on the Iliad... but it was a major influence when I first 'had' to read it... as I recall, it was around the time that I first became a mother and ... well, the world was a new place. The very idea of loosing a son in that manner was waaaay too hard to absorb. I should take another look now that I've some perspective, but I am sure it would not change the impact.

nov 29, 2007, 7:34 am


Make sure you read the latest Robert Fagles translation when you tackle THE ILIAD again. Fagles makes the story SING, much more so than the old Fitzgerald translation I had read previously. Let me also put in a plug for Seamus Heaney's translation of BEOWULF. The writing is great and the book is GORGEOUS (cover-wise), a good gift for the classics-lover in your house this Christmas...

nov 29, 2007, 3:39 pm


how funny that you mentioned it! I just picked up the Heaney version of Beowulf. It was impossible to NOT buy! Say, did you see the movie Beowulf yet?? (i haven't, but its on my list and I'm not able to spend a lot of time at movies these days... I'd rather not take the time if it's terrible.)

I'll look for Fagles translation and if it isn't a huge book, I can take it with me when I travel next year as there will be lots of airplane time to read.

nov 29, 2007, 5:03 pm

Avoid "Beowulf" the movie like a petri dish of the Ebola virus. Grendel's mom in six inch stilettos played by Angelie Jolie--need I say more?

The Heaney/BEOWULF book is gorgeous--did you get the copy with the chain mail on the front? Wow.

The Fagles translation of ILIAD and ODYSSEY are both worth seeking out--I promise you won't be disappointed and will more likely be ENTRANCED.

nov 29, 2007, 8:08 pm

I cried when Old Yeller died. I was eight at the time.

nov 30, 2007, 1:02 am

#62: Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 in c# minor


I cried when they shot the old dog in Of Mice and Men. The film version (any version).

dec 1, 2007, 6:28 am

Cliff, Yes! The chain mail version - it captivated me, it was other worldly or something... plus the verse is exquisite. He's very talented. I would love to hear an audio (irish accent and all!).

Thanks for the tip on the movie, I'll wait for it to come to DVD. There was much fuss about the innovative film technology but I've not heard anything really good on it now that its been released. Time is too precious. Shame, I usually like Neil's stuff (I think he collaborated on the screen play) except now that I think about it, they really changed (messed up) his book "Stardust" as a movie - although seeing De Niro in drag was entertaining... or else it was an off week for me... who knows!

dec 1, 2007, 8:45 am

Neil Gaiman could be getting the Stephen King syndrome, where he becomes too prolific, too well-known and as a result his literary merits begin to dissolve away one by one. I liked WOLVES IN THE WALLS and CORALINE but AMERICAN GODS read like a Stephen King knockoff. He has been defending and praising the movie version of BEOWULF when he should be embarrassed and disowning the bloody thing. Here's how the promo copy for "Beowulf" (the movie) should run:

"For those of you who thought 'Sin City' was too deep and '300' too highbrow, we bring you the new movie for morons everywhere: 'Beowulf'!"

dec 1, 2007, 11:15 am

Does anyone have a movie, book, play, painting, piece of music, or other work that they intentionally seek out because of the emotional rush they get from it?

A movie that I do this with is Mister Roberts. The scene with Pulver and Doc at mail call with Doc reading the letter from Mr. Roberts just tears me up. I cry every time.

I generally cry during movies that portray the struggle of the underdog, or the good person willing to die rather than give in to their circumstances, especially movies that make classic heroes out of ordinary people.

I enjoy being emotionally manipulated, as long as its not too obvious,

dec 1, 2007, 1:05 pm

When I was a kid, I wept while reading White Fang. It upset me so much that I couldn't finish it.

dec 1, 2007, 5:13 pm

Music: "This Woman's Worth" by Kate Bush gets me everytime.
I adore this song, too. The correct title is "This Woman's Work."
There's too much music to list here that gets me weepy. The Adagietto from Mahler's 5th is a constant.

I don't cry often at TV, but one time goes as far back as MASH's finale and then in recent years the last five minutes of the Six Feet Under finale (it's just so beautiful how they filmed that, and with that song).

Books - again, too many to list. But recently, the last few pages of a A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry. And since I'm such a sucker for animals, The Good Good Pig.

dec 22, 2007, 3:46 am

geneg, The World of Apu is a movie I watch over and over because of the ending. The movie was made in India. It's about a young man, Apu, who is poor and wants to be a writer. As luck would have it, Apu agrees to marry his friend's cousin, a woman he doesn't know, in order to help the family save face. He grows to love the woman, but she dies in childbirth. Apu loses his will to live. However, the final scene, when Apu connects with his son is absolutely unforgettable. I do cry every time. If you can find it, rent and watch the whole Apu trilogy, beginning with Pather Pachali. The director is Satyajit Ray. All of you: look for these movies.

dec 23, 2007, 12:19 am

My husband has a whole collection of movies that he loves to watch again and again and again. For me, so much of the joy and fascination in a movie comes from the surprise of seeing how things turn out, I rarely want to see the same one twice.

One that I do like to watch repeatedly is Out of Africa. Meryl Streep's acting is truly amazing. And that moment when, somewhere far outside the frame of the scene, Denys Finch-Hatton's plane crashes and the music (the eerily beautiful singing of young African voices) is suddenly replaced by silence - it sends chills up my spine every time. The movie is full of weepy moments, but that particular one is not - that moment is weighted with the unknowable mystery and wonder of death rather than its sadness.

dec 23, 2007, 10:25 am

Have you read the bookOut of Africa Or Dinesen's biography? I read it a long time ago, but remember being moved. Maybe another one to move to the "To be re-read" pile which sits behind the ever-growing & threatening to topple over TBR pile of books.

dec 23, 2007, 11:06 am

There are phases. As a kid I had similar experiences described in earlier posts re The Yearling and Charlotte's Web. Then came a hardening, and it took years before that emotional pitch returned, for books like My Antonia and Capote's A Christmas Memory (the endings).

dec 23, 2007, 2:11 pm

'The Bluest Eye' by Toni Morrison...tragic.

dec 30, 2007, 3:21 am

Music for sure. Then there is the scene in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where Huck decides not to betray Jim, despite "knowing" that this sin will send him to Hell. Wow. And as above Old Yeller did me in as a little boy.

dec 30, 2007, 3:29 am

#84, That particular scene in Huckelberry Finn has always given me goosebumps. And, yes, music. I have recently been listening a lot to Pearl Jam's "Man of the Hour." Beethoven's "String Quartets" also get a strong reaction from me, as does "Novim's Nightmare" by Cat Stevens.

Did you read the recent novel, Finn? What a dark world.

dec 30, 2007, 8:48 am

I found the bracelet I bought from the Ashes and Snow photo exhibit when it hit southern California. I'll try to find a link, but I remember being so awed that I teared up a little.

jan 3, 2008, 2:07 am

That scene in Huckleberry Finn is one of the most profound moral statements ever written.

jan 5, 2008, 7:03 pm

Margad - yes.

Marian - i found Out of Africa and Shadows beautiful. You might try her short stories. Intricate chamber pieces.

Cliff - "For those of you who thought 'Sin City' was too deep and '300' too highbrow, we bring you the new movie for morons everywhere: 'Beowulf'!"


jan 5, 2008, 8:32 pm

NativeRoses, you made me remember an amazing tear inducing short story:
Kim Edwards Secrets of a Fire King, Spring Mountain Sea. Only the hard of heart can read it without crying...

feb 5, 2008, 6:46 pm

I was well trained by a mother seeking to avoid embarassment not to weep. I last wept a couple of decades ago in response to a matter of unrequited love. I have wanted to cry and curse my inability to do it.

I like epic, at least kinda. Modern poetry mostly strikes me as jejune, not to be offensive. Our reading group was converging on consensus about direction for a next book; in that convergence was 'a long poem.' I brought up Prelude and The Folding Cliffs. Wordsworth probably sounded too stodgy for most of the folk, but we were all okay with W.S. Merwin.

I read it almost as a chant. I'm not quite sure why it can be called poetry, and, if my path ever crosses Merwin's, I'll ask him, but I think it must be in that chant thing (I have not found much about the poem on-line and would like to; I have found that some people claim it is basically written in anapests, but I could not find that pattern).

Anyway, Hawaiian chant is narrative. The story and the chant-like telling of the story gave me chills as it developed toward the end. Some time after finishing, like within an hour lying in bed, I began to cry (no I didn't weep). I was quite surprised. Rather than wrestle with it, I let it happen. After awhile it went away, but I will not repudiate my reaction.


feb 6, 2008, 11:13 pm

That's so interesting, rdurick! I would love to hear some Hawaiian chant. It seems unlikely I will get the opportunity, but you never know ... At least now I am alerted, and if I ever read in the paper that a Hawaiian chant event is going to be held here, I will go! I'm very drawn to oral storytelling.

feb 7, 2008, 1:37 am

One of the best workshops I ever led was on chants. We recited the Navajo Night Chant together (this can be found online) and then I let the participants create their own chants. My god, what beautiful work they produced. One woman wrote about swimming, another about her child who was dying. There were plenty of tears that day. This was at Esalen in Big Sur. The chant is an intriguing form; yes, it is a narrative, but often it is a narrative that starts outside and moves inside. It begins with exterior life and takes us progressively into our inner selves. It is quite an experience, exhilarating, fraught with peril, and ultimately very centering, even cleansing.

I also wish I could hear the Hawaiin chant.

feb 7, 2008, 3:13 pm

#90 says, "The story and the chant-like telling of the story gave me chills as it developed toward the end. Some time after finishing, like within an hour lying in bed, I began to cry (no I didn't weep)."

Several things caught my eye about this statement. Chant is an excellent method of getting in touch with those centers, mostly in the right brain, that pass information to us outside of the left brain. It is this that creates the delayed reaction. Delayed reactions are nearly always a sign that poetry has occurred. I have always believed good poetry communicates in non-verbal ways by creating structures, sounds, metaphors that tickle our non-verbal centers. This is one reason why I have problems with so much modern poetry. So much current poetry, by eschewing structure and rhythm and rhyme in a quest for something more misses the mark entirely.

feb 7, 2008, 8:34 pm

(7 months later) Message #2 is the starting point. . . I told of a personage immortalized in wood in the British Museum. T. asked to see the picture I have above my kitchen sink, and I sent her a shot. But that was just the beginning: My husband commented that the picture had faded since I got it in 1976 and suggested replacing it. Many e-mails back & forth to the Brit ensued. Finally, with the aid of the receipt I found, they were able to assure me I'd get a new print of Binzuru. Today ($44 out-of-pocket!) my neighbor cut-to-fit-into-same frame. ***Now: how long before my good husband says, "Oh, you put the new picture in!"

feb 9, 2008, 1:54 pm

Messages #2 and #94 (about the wooden tutelary figure - Buddhist I assume) seem wonderfully right in conjunction with message #90 and its follow-ups (about chanting). I have been chanting with a Nichiren Buddhist group for almost a year (though I haven't "become" a Nichiren Buddhist). The chanting is very powerful, though it hasn't made me cry. It seems to connect a very deep part of me with a sort of spiritual river at the center of the universe. It does bother me somewhat that the chant is in Japanese, a language I don't know. I keep toying with the idea of making my own translation of the chant into English, or perhaps translating the heart of its meaning (at least to me) into English. As Gene points out (#93), sound structure and rhythm would be crucial to the success of the translation.

feb 13, 2008, 10:06 am

The first time I saw Michael Angel's David in Florence I had to sit down on a bench, as it was so impressive and amazed. It felt so powerful and overwhelming. I was moved to tears when I saw the perfect yet chaotic beauty of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. I also love contemporary art and I stood a long time watching Kentridge's 'animated drawings' at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Well, as you might have guessed I'm Italian and love art!! :)

Redigeret: maj 27, 2008, 12:14 am

"Here I am, Frankie. I finally made it." I just got to the end of 84 Charing Cross Road (the movie), starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. Wow. I couldn't keep my eyes dry. I've never had that connection with a single bookseller, the way she did. But I still tremble at the recollection of how I stumbled across my first editions of Emerson, Paul Tillich and Julian Huxley. The way the books feel, smell, and the wonder of who bought them brand new (the Emerson was printed in London), and what their lot in life was. Anyway, the entire film moved me profoundly, but I couldn't keep my composure when she read the letter and learned of his death. From there to the end, I just shuddered right along with her. I think I'll be watching this one many, many more times.

Redigeret: maj 25, 2008, 3:32 pm

There's only one time I've ever cried at a movie, and it was at the end of a Chinese movie called Together. A young boy is a violin prodigy, and he and his single dad move from the country to the city so he can go to a better violin instructor. I don't want to spoil the ending part that made me cry, but it's very moving.

maj 26, 2008, 11:00 pm

I discovered the movie first, then the book. The book is even better, because it's the correspondence between the two. Hope you have read it, it's just about the best book about books ever.

maj 27, 2008, 12:15 am

Thanks for the tip, Mel. I will certainly purchase the book and read it. I had no idea it existed as a book. What a fabulous story.

apr 12, 2010, 5:48 pm

I haven't written anything on this website actually I haven't visited for too long of a time. Today I am here and wanted to share, I am a volunteer at the Portland Art Museum, during the winter, we were luckly enought to exhibit Raphael's painting of A Woman With a Veil. I have never seen a more beautiful painting of a woman! One evening during my shift, the director of the museum give a lecture to some of the partons about the painting. Raphael believed that beauty came from character and in the painting he was trying to show her character. This woman, no one knows who she was, he was able to show what a beautiful woman she was. I start to tear up thinking about this painting. I saw the influence and power the painting had on people, couple would come into the room it was being shown, while looking at the picture they started to touch each other, when they left they were holding hands.

apr 25, 2010, 9:58 pm

That's such a beautiful story, Michael. Now I think it would be so interesting to go an art museum just to watch people's reactions to a painting of my choice. The last art museum I went to was in Chicago and I got to see several Munch paintings and prints. I was so involved in them that I didn't notice people around me.

maj 3, 2010, 5:54 pm

Perhaps being so involved that you did not notice folks around you meant that you were the one being noticed? eek

jul 30, 2010, 10:53 pm

The writing that most nearly brings me to tears lately is haiku. There's one in particular that really strikes a chord with me:

Visiting the graves
the old dog
leads the way.