What’s the loveliest sentence in the English language?

“And I shall go on talking in a low voice while the sea sounds in the distance and overhead the great black flood of wind polishes the bright stars.”

One literary critic, Stanley Fish, cited this as one of his favourite sentences ever written in the English language. (It comes from Ford Madox Ford‘s The Good Soldier, published in 1915.)

Personally, I’m a bit of a Hamlet hag and love the sound and rhythm of the:

‘O that this too, too sullied flesh would melt’ bit. Can’t say I like the idea itself, but it’s lovely to listen to.

Then, of course, there’s the opening lines from The Hobbit:

‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.’

What’s your favourite English sentence of all time?

Proofreader, copy-writer and copy-editor

5 Thoughts on “Beautiful sentences”

  • How about:

    Much Ado About Nothing (or Benedict & Beatrice) Act II Scene III

    “No; the world must be peopled.” (Benedict)

    Or it’s variant:

    “No; the world must be peopled. But I need a bit of practise first.” (Peter)

  • “Waddaya call a baby Swan” was the Trivial Pursuit question put to my partner by the opposing team.

    I don’t believe in ethics and surreptitiously pointed at my un-ringed yet to be conjugated third on the left.

    “A Finger” he shouted victoriously; not even Pyrrhus would have given him a bun to feed the elephants for that effort.

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