There's a new anthology out shortly, called Poems That Make Grown Men Cry. Now, poems provide easy pickings in the sob stakes Dover Beach, Ode to Immortality, Donal Og, The River Merchant's Wife. But what about books? Not whole books, but moments in books that make you come up short, lines that perhaps make you think some dust got in your eye.
Sometimes they're desolating, sometimes uplifting, so here are some of both, with due respect for context and non-spoilering, and trying to keep each to a couple of sentences.
She walked rapidly in the thin June sunlight towards the worst horror of all.
But she turned to the door, and her headshake was now the end. "We shall never be again as we were!"
Death never mattered at those times in the early days I even used to pray for it: the shattering annihilation that would prevent for ever the getting up, the putting on of clothes, the watching her torch trail across to the opposite side of the common like the tail-light of a low car driving away.
To think that I've wasted years of my life, that I've longed to die, that I've experienced my greatest love, for a woman who didn't appeal to me, who wasn't even my type.
Blind and crying, their love groped for a door of entry, and turned away defeated.
All the men and women she knew were like atoms whirling away from each other in some wild centrifugal dance: her first glimpse of the continuity of life had come to her that evening.
Now truly we were cast out to wander, and there was an end to housekeeping.
I lingered round [the three graves], under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.
He heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
He gently released my hand, opened the door, went inside, and shut the door behind him. I never saw him again.
She walked away from him and, as he watched her go, he found that the terrible weight in his stomach seemed to have lessened slightly.
"Only the margin left to write on now. I love you, I love you, I love you."