To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.
There are certain things in which mediocrity is intolerable: poetry, music, painting, public eloquence. What torture it is to hear a frigid speech being pompously declaimed, or second-rate verse spoken with all a bad poet's bombast!
A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.
However rare true love may be, it is less so than true friendship.
Hope, deceitful as it is, serves at least to lead us to the end of our lives by an agreeable route.
True love is like ghosts, which everybody talks about and few have seen.
How can we expect another to keep our secret if we have been unable to keep it ourselves?
Quarrels would not last long if the fault were on only one side.
What is called generosity is usually only the vanity of giving; we enjoy the vanity more than the thing given.
(topic: gifts and giving)
Some people have a knack of putting upon you gifts of no real value, to engage you to substantial gratitude. We thank them for nothing.
(topic: gifts and giving)
Truth is a point, the subtlest and finest; harder than adamant; never to be broken, worn away or blunted. Its only bad quality is, that it is sure to hurt those who touch it; and likely to draw blood, perhaps the life blood of those who press earnestly upon it.
The source of all life and knowledge is in man and woman, and the source of all living is in the interchange and the meeting and mingling of these two: man-life and woman-life, man-knowledge and woman-knowledge, man-being and woman-being.
(topic: men and women)
After all, the world is not a stage--not to me: nor a theatre: nor a show-house of any sort. And art, especially novels, are not little theatres where the reader sits aloft and watches...and sighs, commiserates, condones and smiles. That's what you want a book to be: because it leaves you so safe and superior, with your two-dollar ticket to the show. And that's what my books are not and never will be...Whoever reads me will be in the thick of the scrimmage, and if he doesn't like it if he wants a safe seat in the audience--let him read someone else.
And what's romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything As You Like It, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose and it's always daisy-time.
And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.
Your huddled masses yearning to be free.
My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.
Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching.
If you're going to America, bring your own food.
Somehow life doesn't always pay off to those who are most insistent.
The most deadly fruit is borne by the hatred which one grafts on an extinguished friendship.
We have no words for speaking of wisdom to the stupid. He who understands the wise is wise already.
What is the good of drawing conclusions from experience? I don't deny we sometimes draw the right conclusions, but don't we just as often draw the wrong ones?
Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.
Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets.
Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.
Only with winter-patience can we bring
The deep-desired, long-awaited spring.
For sleep, one needs endless depths of blackness to sink into; daylight is too shallow, it will not cover one.
The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.
We should have a great fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves.
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
I feel a kind of reverence for the first books of young authors. There is so much aspiration in them, so much audacious hope and trembling fear, so much of the heart's history, that all errors and shortcomings are for a while lost sight of in the amiable self assertion of youth.
A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.
Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
The Laws of Nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them. Cause and consequence are inseparable and inevitable. The elements have no forbearance. The fire burns, the water drowns, the air consumes, the earth buries. And perhaps it would be well for our race if the punishment of crimes against the Laws of Man were as inevitable as the punishment of crimes against the Laws of Nature--were Man as unerring in his judgments as Nature.
The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
You would attain to the divine perfection,
And yet not turn your back upon the world.
Thy fate is the common fate of all;
Into each life some rain must fall.
Men in earnest have no time to waste
In patching fig-leaves for the naked truth.
(topic: censorship and free speech)
There is nothing so desperately monotonous as the sea, and I no longer wonder at the cruelty of pirates.
Let us be of good cheer, however, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never come.
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave no wake;
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache.
(topic: joy and sorrow)
One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.
If we see light at the end of the tunnel,
It's the light of the oncoming train.
There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.