Collected Quotes

A selection of favorite quotes, in no particular order, for your reading pleasure:

Cultivo una rosa blanca
en junio como en enero
para el amigo sincero
que me da su mano franca.
Y para el cruel que me arranca
el corazón con que vivo,
cardo ni ortiga cultivo;
cultivo la rosa blanca.
~ José Martí

“Studying history, my friend, is no joke and no irresponsible game. To study history one must know in advance that one is attempting something fundamentally impossible, yet necessary and highly important. To study history means submitting to chaos and nevertheless retaining faith in order and meaning. It is a very serious task…and possibly a tragic one.” ~Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

“Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name?” ~Madame Roland at the guillotine

“I read [history] a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all – it is very tiresome.” ~ Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)

“Nothing of reform in the political world ought to be held improbable. It is an age of Revolutions, in which everything may be looked for.” ~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

“The past is chaos; ‘history’ is the order we impose upon it.” ~ James B. Collins, The State in Early Modern France

“To understand the living present, and the promise of the future, it is necessary to remember the past.” ~Rachel Carson

“The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.” ~Kate Chopin, The Awakening

“Nothing happens in this world which isn’t full of folly, performed by fools amongst fools.” ~Erasmus

“La felicidad general de un pueblo descansa en la independencia individual de sus habitantes.” ~José Martí

“Los hombres se dividen en dos bandos: los que aman y fundan, los que odian y deshacen.” ~José Martí

“I came to accept that I have no right whatsoever to judge others in terms of my own customs, however much I may be proud of such customs.” ~Nelson Mandela

“There can be no acceptable future without an honest analysis of the past.” ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~Marcel Proust

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” ~Stephen Grellet

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.” ~Lord Byron

“He who believes in freedom of the will has never loved and never hated.” ~Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” ~Marcus Aurelius

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it – always.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.” ~Jane Austen, Persuasion

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” ~Thomas Jefferson

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

“Historians are dangerous and capable of turning everything upside down. They have to be watched.” ~Nikita Khrushchev

“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.” ~Sophocles

“Con unas pocas flores en mi jardín, media docena de fotos y algunos libros, yo vivo sin envidia.” ~Félix Lope de Vega

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” ~Oscar Wilde

“Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!” ~Henry David Thoreau

“You are not superior just because you see the world in an odious light.” ~François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” ~Thomas Jefferson

“We are weighed down, every moment, by the conception and the sensation of time. And there are but two means of escaping and forgetting this nightmare: pleasure and work. Pleasure consumes us. Work strengthens us. Let us choose.” ~Charles Baudelaire

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~Vladimir Nabokov

“The height of cleverness is to be able to conceal it.” ~François de La Rochefoucauld

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” ~René Descartes

“Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.” ~Bertrand Russell

“The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.” ~Thomas Carlyle

“Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity…[For] we are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.” ~Barack Obama

“There is a stream of things entering into being, and time is a raging torrent; for no sooner does each thing enter our sight than it has been swept away, and another is passing in its place, and that, too, will be swept away.” ~Marcus Aurelius (Book IV)

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.” ~Bertrand Russell

“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the creator, there is no poverty and no indifferent place.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” ~Anaïs Nin

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  ~Mark Twain

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ~Dorothy Nevill

“Mas p’alante hay otro pueblo. Paras en un pueblo y dices, ‘Aqui no hay nada,’ sigues caminando, y hay un pueblo mejor.” (i.e., Never settle. Keep moving and you may find something better.) ~My dad

“A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.” ~Mae West

“You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you’re doing is work or play.” ~Warren Beatty

“To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, one must also be well-mannered.” ~Voltaire

“Dreaming is happiness. Waiting is life.” ~Victor Hugo

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ~Robert Frost

“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.” ~Bertrand Russell

“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: to rise above the little things.” ~John Burroughs

“At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas.” ~Aldous Huxley

“Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.” ~John F. Kennedy

“Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” ~Walt Whitman

“I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.” ~Michel de Montaigne

“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.” ~Hannah Arendt

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” ~Voltaire

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” ~Horace Walpole

“Love is so holy, so confusing. It makes a man anxious, tormented. Love, how can I define it?” ~Gao Xingjian

“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” ~William Blake

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.” ~Pablo Picasso

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” ~Sir Walter Scott

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

“Puedo escribir los versos mas tristes esta noche. Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido. Oir la noche inmensa, mas inmensa sin ella. Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocio.” ~Pablo Neruda

“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.” ~H. L. Mencken

“Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.” ~Isaac Newton

“I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” ~Will Rogers

“Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes into you.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

“Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.” ~Mark Twain

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane.” ~Hermann Hesse

“When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.” ~Albert Einstein

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~Leo Tolstoy

“The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” ~Paul Valéry

“A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” ~Franz Kafka

“In politics, absurdity is not a handicap.” ~Napoleon Bonaparte

“La vida es como la espuma. Por eso hay que darse como el mar.” ~From the film, “Y tu mamá también”

“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.” ~Mark Twain

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress…But then I repeat myself.” ~Mark Twain

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.” ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Europe is so well gardened that it resembles a work of art, a scientific theory, a neat metaphysical system. Man has recreated Europe in his own image.” ~Aldous Huxley

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ~Aldous Huxley

“In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.” ~Hubert H. Humphrey

“It is the hour to be drunken! To escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish.” ~Charles Baudelaire

“Fortune can, for her pleasure, fools advance / And toss them on the wheels of Chance.” ~Juvenal

“A truth that’s told with bad intent, beats all the lies you can invent.” ~William Blake

“Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.” ~Robertson Davies

“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

“He who loves the more is the inferior and must suffer.” ~Thomas Mann

“There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees.” ~Victor Hugo

“We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair. There are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.” ~2 Corinthians 4:8

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” ~Will Rogers

“What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.” ~Edward Langley

“Most men are within a finger’s breadth of being mad.” ~Diogenes the Cynic

“It is from books that wise people derive consolation from the troubles of life.” ~Victor Hugo

“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” ~Sir Francis Bacon

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” ~Pablo Picasso

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” ~Mark Twain

“Let nothing which can be treated by diet be treated by other means.” ~Maimonides

“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds happiness in his home.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.” ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Always be a poet, even in prose.” ~Charles Baudelaire

“Any newspaper, from the first line to the last, is nothing but a web of horrors, I cannot understand how an innocent hand can touch a newspaper without a shudder of disgust.” ~Charles Baudelaire

“As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life.” ~Charles Baudelaire

“The world only goes round by misunderstanding.” ~Charles Baudelaire

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” ~Mark Twain

“In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’ clock in the morning, day after day.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” ~Leo Tolstoy

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” ~Aesop

“One revolution is still necessary: the one that will not end with the rule of its leader. It will be the revolution against revolutions, the uprising of all peaceable individuals, who will become soldiers for once so that neither they nor anyone else will ever have to be a soldier again.” ~José Martí

“How hard it is, sometimes, to trust the evidence of one’s senses! How reluctantly the mind consents to reality.” ~Norman Douglas

“Society, my dear, is like salt water, good to swim in but hard to swallow.” ~Arthur Stringer

“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” ~Mark Twain

“I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.” ~Albert Camus

“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.” ~Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it ‘the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.’ The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of ‘Artist.’” ~Edgar Allen Poe

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do things worth the writing.” ~Benjamin Franklin

“Dreams have as much influence as actions.” ~Stéphane Mallarmé

“If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Czar himself.” ~Mikhail Bakunin

“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” ~Jack Kerouac

“The true genius shudders at incompleteness – and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.” ~Edgar Allen Poe

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.” ~Oscar Wilde

“In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.” ~John Adams

“So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the ‘burning marl.’ Old wive’s tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is – other people!” ~Jean-Paul Sartre

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” ~Ernest Hemingway

“Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” ~Franz Kafka

The following three ancient Greek adages were carved into the temple at Delphi:

gnōthi seautón (γνῶθι σεαυτόν): “know thyself” (attributed to Thales of Miletus)

mēdén ágan (μηδέν άγαν): “nothing in excess” (attributed to Solon of Athens)

eggýa pára d’atē (Ἑγγύα πάρα δ’ἄτη): “make a pledge and mischief is nigh,” or “Promise is allied to mischief.” Also attributed to Thales of Miletus, one of the Seven Sages of Greece. Nothing can lead one into greater difficulties or more dilemmas than promises rashly or inconsiderately made.