Our favorite stories and poems become part of us in a very personal way. When we find words that explain us, inspire us, and tell our truths, we hold onto them tightly — and sometimes, we want to hold onto 'em forever. That's where tattoos come in: the ultimate permanent accessory. It isn't surprising that so many people have chosen to use their bodies to pay homage to their most-loved words from lit.
I found 24 absolutely beautiful literature-inspired text tattoos, drawn from passages by authors like Harper Lee, Suzanne Collins, Maya Angelou — it's an amazing range. The text comes alive on the canvas of skin: You just have to see it for yourself...like this Shel Silverstein tattoo above!
If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking
in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating
across the tops of cities contemplating jazz…
'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.
'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee
Atticus said no, it wasn’t that sort of thing, that there were other ways of making people into ghosts.
'The Dark is Rising' by Susan Cooper
On the Midwinter Day that is his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers a special gift — that he is the last of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. At once, he is plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid the Old Ones in the final battle between the Dark and the Light. And for the twelve days of Christmas, while the Dark is rising, life for Will is full of wonder, terror, and delight.
"Walk Lightly" by J. Patrick Lewis
'Hamlet' by Shakespeare
This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.
"Summer and Spring" by William Butler Yeats
We sat under an old thorn-tree
And talked away the night,
Told all that had been said or done
Since first we saw the light,
And when we talked of growing up
Knew that we’d halved a soul
And fell the one in t’other’s arms
That we might make it whole;
Then peter had a murdering look,
For it seemed that he and she
Had spoken of their childish days
Under that very tree.
O what a bursting out there was,
And what a blossoming,
When we had all the summer-time
And she had all the spring!
"The Laughing Heart" by Charles Bukowski
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock.