HumanitiesWeb.org - The Spiritual Politics of Ralph Waldo Emerson [Quotations]
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26 June, 2013

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Quotations



"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
 
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
 
"Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."
 
"The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it."
 
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."
 
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us."
 
"There is properly no history; only biography."
 
"All sensible people are selfish, and nature is tugging at every contract to make the terms of it fair."
 
"Let us treat men and women well; treat them as if they were real. Perhaps they are."
 
"Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts."
 
"When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it."
 
"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
 
"A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us."
 
"In reading Henry Thoreau's Journal, I am very sensible of the vigor of his constitution. That oaken strength which I noted whenever he walked or worked or surveyed wood lots, the same unhesitating hand with which a field-laborer accosts a piece of work which I should shun as a waste of strength, Henry shows in his literary task. He has muscle, & ventures on & performs tasks which I am forced to decline. In reading him, I find the same thoughts, the same spirit that is in me, but he takes a step beyond, & illustrates by excellent images that which I should have conveyed in a sleepy generality. 'Tis as if I went into a gymnasium, & saw youths leap, climb, & swing with a fource unapproachable, -- though their feats are only continuations of my initial grapplings & jumps."
- From Emerson's Journal, 24 June, 1863
 
"People only see what they are prepared to see. "
 
"Imagination is not a talent of some men, but is the health of every man. "
 
"I honor health as the first Muse. "
 
"Very idle is all curiosity concerning other people's estimate of us, and all fear of remaining unknown is not less so. "
 
"Let not the author eat up the man, so that he shall be all balcony and no house. "
 
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us."
 
"What I need is someone who will make me do what I can."
 
"What is indispensable to inspiration? ...sound sleep and the provocation of a good book or a companion."
 
"There is a great deal of poetry and sentiment in a chest of tea."
 
"If the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him. "
 
"Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. "
 
"As soon as there is life, there is danger. "
 
"Shakespeare's mind is the horizon beyond which, at present, we do not see."
 
"He describes his characters as if for the police."
 
"The high water mark of poetry in the nineteenth century."
- Regarding "Intimations of Immortality"
 
"I am naturally keenly susceptible to the pleasures of rhythm, and cannot believe but one day I shall attain to that splendid dialect, so ardent is my wish; and these wishes, I suppose, are ever only the buds of power; but up to this hour I have never had a true success in such attempts."
 
"A sweet, a gracious personality, but I have forgotten his name."
 
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