Passages: Look Homeward, Angel

From Thomas Wolfe, written when he was young enough to be shamelessly poetic but old enough to know that nothing lasts. Look Homeward, Angel is a spectacular coming-of-age story that constantly returns to Wolfe's theme of unstoppable loss in the face of a world that refuses to do anything but move on — the word "ghost" appears dozens of times in the text — and it's worth your time. The passage is wonderful for the way it captures how the protagonist felt in his youth and how the author knows things will really turn out:

They clung together in that bright moment of wonder, there on the magic island, where the world was quiet, believing all they said. And who shall say — whatever disenchantment follows — that we ever forget magic, or that we can ever betray, on this leaden earth, the apple-tree, the singing, and the gold? Far out beyond that timeless valley, a train, on the rails for the East, wailed back its ghostly cry: life, like a fume of painted smoke, a broken wrack of cloud, drifted away. Their world was a singing voice again: they were young and they could never die. This would endure.