- WIST is my personal collection of quotations, curated for thought, amusement, turn of phrase, historical significance, or sometimes just (often-unintentional) irony.Please feel free to browse and borrow.
- 16,735 quotes and counting ...
Topic Cloudaction age America belief books change character Christianity creation death democracy education ego evil faith fear freedom future God government happiness history honesty humanity integrity justice leadership liberty life love morality perspective politics poverty power religion science society success truth virtue war wealth wisdom writing
- I've been adding topics/tags since 2014, so not all quotes have been given one. Full topic list.
- * Visual quotes (graphics, memes) only
- “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (5,581)
- “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National… (5,532)
- Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)] (5,394)
- Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (4,808)
- “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (4,329)
- “In Search of a Majority,” Speech,… (3,642)
- “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of… (3,470)
- “On The Conduct of Life” (1822) (3,134)
- “Hallowed Ground” (1825) (2,935)
- “The Historian as Participant,” Daedalus… (2,726)
Most Quoted Authors
Author CloudAdams, John • Bacon, Francis • Bible • Bierce, Ambrose • Billings, Josh • Butcher, Jim • Chesterton, Gilbert Keith • Churchill, Winston • Einstein, Albert • Eisenhower, Dwight David • Emerson, Ralph Waldo • Franklin, Benjamin • Fuller, Thomas (1654) • Gaiman, Neil • Galbraith, John Kenneth • Gandhi, Mohandas • Goethe, Johann von • Hazlitt, William • Heinlein, Robert A. • Hoffer, Eric • Huxley, Aldous • Ingersoll, Robert Green • James, William • Jefferson, Thomas • Johnson, Lyndon • Johnson, Samuel • Kennedy, John F. • King, Martin Luther • La Rochefoucauld, Francois • Lewis, C.S. • Lincoln, Abraham • Mencken, H.L. • Orwell, George • Pratchett, Terry • Roosevelt, Eleanor • Roosevelt, Theodore • Russell, Bertrand • Seneca the Younger • Shakespeare, William • Shaw, George Bernard • Stevenson, Adlai • Stevenson, Robert Louis • Twain, Mark • Watterson, Bill • Wilde, Oscar
- Only the 45 most quoted authors are shown above. Full author list.
- 5-Sep-19 - Erewhon, ch. 20 (1872) | WIST on 1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV).
- 4-Sep-19 - "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968) | WIST on Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963).
- 16-Aug-19 - Dave on About WIST.
- 13-Aug-19 - Mike Hardy on About WIST.
- 17-Jul-19 - Samuel Missal on Armistice Day address, Boston (11 Nov 1948).
- 24-May-19 - Dave on Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1989).
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
“Sweet Darkness,” House of Belonging (1996)
My son, a perfect little boy of five years and three months, had ended his earthly life. You can never sympathize with me; you can never know how much of me such a young child can take away. A few weeks ago I accounted myself a very rich man, and now the poorest of all.
Letter to Thomas Carlyle (28 Feb 1842)
DAVE BOWMAN: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL 9000: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
It’s no trick to support the free speech of somebody you agree with or to whose opinion you are indifferent. The defense of free speech begins at the point when people say something you can’t stand. If you can’t defend their right to say it, then you don’t believe in free speech.
“Do we have to fight the battle for the Enlightenment all over again?” The Independent (22 Jan 2005)
I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance.
Poke the Box (2011)
Marriage is not a simple love affair, it’s an ordeal, and the ordeal is the sacrifice of ego to a relationship in which two have become one.
There is fascism, leading only into the blackness which it has chosen as its symbol, into smartness and yapping out of orders, and self-righteous brutality, into social as well as international war. It means change without hope. Our immediate duty — in that tinkering which is the only useful form of action in our leaky old tub — our immediate duty is to stop it ….
“Notes on the Way,” Time and Tide (10 June 1934)
Reprinted in The Prince's Tale and Other Uncollected Writings (1998)
If glory comes after death, I hurry not.
[Si post fata venit gloria, non propero.]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, ep. 10 [tr. Rush]
Alt. trans.: "If glory comes only after death I am in no hurry for it." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot;
Follow your spirit: and upon this charge,
Cry — God for Harry! England and Saint George!
Henry V, Act 3, sc. 1 [Henry] (1599)
Man is a social animal who dislikes his fellow man.
[L’homme es un animal sociable qui déteste ses semblables.]
The Journal of Eugène Delacroix, 17 November 1852 (1951)
If I seem to take part in politics, it is only because politics encircle us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake.
Makeup is not beauty. When artfully applied, it merely enhances what’s already there — the red paint on the fire engine.
Sorrow is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.
Riding Shotgun, ch. 17 (1996)
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
”Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
”How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
”You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, ch. 6 (1865)
It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”
Added on 23-Feb-18 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.
To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.
The Vampire Lestat, Part 5, ch. 3 (1992)
In short, Mort was one of those people who are more dangerous than a bag full of rattlesnakes. He was determined to discover the underlying logic behind the universe. Which was going to be hard, because there wasn’t one.
What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you — what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind — you have to lean into that and figure out what to do, because complaining isn’t a strategy.
Interview, ABC News (25 Sep 2013)
Warped with satisfactions and terrors, woofed with too many ambiguities and too few certainties, life can be lived best not when we have the answers — because we will never have those — but when we know enough to live it right out to the edges, edges sometimes marked by other people, sometimes showing only our own footprints.
Eight years involved with the nuclear industry have taught me that when nothing can possible go wrong and every avenue has been covered, then is the time to buy a house on the next continent.
alt.fan.pratchett Usenet Group (26 Aug 1998)
You ought to get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini.
Every Day’s a Holiday (movie) [Larmadou Graves] (1937)
West both starred in the film (as the recipient of this line, Peaches O'Day) and wrote the screenplay. Often attributed to Robert Benchley, who used the line in a film a few years later, and claimed he got it from a joke book.
The time is always right to do what’s right.
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.
“Papyrus to Paperbacks: The World That Books Made,” Washington Post (30 Dec 1979)
What do you suppose makes all men look back to the time of childhood with so much regret (if their childhood has been, in any moderate degree, healthy or peaceful)? That rich charm, which the least possession had for us, was in consequence of the poorness of our treasures. That miraculous aspect of the nature around us, was because we had seen little, and knew less. Each increased possession loads us with a new weariness; every piece of new knowledge diminishes the faculty of admiration; and Death is at last appointed to take us from a scene in which, if we were to stay longer, no gift could satisfy us, and no miracle surprise.
The Eagle’s Nest, Lecture 5 “The Power of Contentment in Science and Art,” Sec. 82 (22 Feb 1872)
This cold wilderness was utterly unfamiliar, but it did not feel hostile, just indifferent to her fate. If she fell off this path and was broken into a hundred pieces nothing up here would be one whit interested.
The Green Mill Murder, ch. 13 (1993)
It is striking how much more seriously we are likely to be taken after we have been dead a few centuries.
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 4 “Consolation for Inadequacy” (2000)
Morals are three-quarters manners.
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
Comment (31 Dec 2001)
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace, there’s nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.
Henry V, Act 3, sc. 1 [Henry] (1599)
The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.
Man is a talking animal and he will always let himself be swayed by the power of the word.
Les Belles Images (1966)
We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
One was never married, and that’s his hell; another is, and that’s his plague.
The Anatomy of Melancholy, 220.127.116.11 (1621-51)
Anxiety is the handmaiden of contemporary ambition.
Status Anxiety (2004)
If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other folks then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding.
Moses, Man of the Mountain [Moses] (1939)
Divide the work and thus you’ll shorten it.
[Divisum sic breve fiet opus.]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, Epigram 82
As quoted in Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906); mislabeled as Epigram 83.Alt. trans.:
- "If it be too much to read two volumes, let them roll up one of them; and the task, thus divided, will seem shorter." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
- "If two be too much, double one parcel down; / So half, perhaps, better the pleasure will crown." [tr. Elphinston]
- "If it is too much to read two, let one book be rolled up: divided the work will thus become brief. [Si nimis est legisse duos, tibi charta plicetur / Altera: divisum sic breve fiet opus.]" [tr. Ker (1919), Ep. 210]
You confuse what’s important with what’s impressive.
Maurice (w. 1914, pub. 1971)
Man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave, solemnizing nativities and deaths with equal luster, nor omitting ceremonies of bravery, in the infamy of his nature.
Urn-Burial: Or, Hydriotaphia, ch. 5 (1658)
There are three possible ways in which the church can act toward the state: in the first place, as has been said, it can ask the state whether its actions are legitimate and in accordance with its character as state, i.e., it can throw the state back on its responsibilities. Secondly, it can aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community. “Do good to all men.” In both these course of action, the church serves the free state in its free way, and at times when laws are changed the church may in no way withdraw itself from these two tasks.
The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself. Such action would be direct political action, and is only possible and required when the church sees the state fail in its function of creating law and order, i.e., when it sees the state unrestrainedly bring about too much or too little law and order.
“The Church and the Jewish Question” (1933)
On the need for Christian clergy to actively oppose the Nazi regime's persecution of Jews.
I have changed my definition of tragedy. I now think tragedy is not foul deeds done to a person (usually noble in some manner) but rather that tragedy is irresolvable conflict. Both sides/ideas are right.
Starting from Scratch, Part 3 “The Work,” “Plot” (1989)
Every man has a certain sphere of discretion, which he has a right to expect shall not be infringed by his neighbors. This right flows from the very nature of man. First, all men are fallible: no man can be justified in setting up his judgment as a standard for others. We have no infallible judge of controversies; each man in his own apprehension is right in his decisions; and we can find no satisfactory mode of adjusting their jarring pretensions. If every one be desirous of imposing his sense upon others, it will at last come to be a controversy, not of reason, but of force.
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Book 2, ch. 5 (1793)
When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners.
Moses, Man of the Mountain, ch. 6 [Mentu] (1939)
There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher.
“Salt,” Counsels by the Way (1921 ed.)
If poor you are, poor you will always be,
For wealth’s now given to none but to the rich.
[Semper eris pauper, si pauper es, Aemiliane;
Dantur opes nulli nunc, nisi divitibus.]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, #81
In Thomas Harbottle, ed., The Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1897). Alt. trans.:
- If you are poor now, Æmilianus, you will always be poor. / Riches are now given to none but the rich. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
- If thou are poor, Æmilian, / Thou shalt be ever so, / For no man now his presents can / But on the rich bestow. [tr. Fletcher]
- You want, Æmilianus, so you may; / Riches are given rich men, and none but they. [tr. Wright]
- Poor once and poor for ever, Nat, I fear; / None but the rich get place and pension here. [tr. N. B. Halhed]
- You will always be poor, if you are poor, Aemilianus. Wealth is given today t none savethe rich. [tr. Ker (1919)]
The only real argument for marriage is that it remains the best method for getting acquainted.
It Seems To Me, 1925–35 (1935)
The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.
Tremendous Trifles, “The Advantages of Having One Leg” (1909)
How easy it is to be amiable in the midst of happiness and success!
Life and Letters of Madam Swetchine, ch. 5 [8th ed., 1875] (ed. de Falloux; tr. Preston]
Our live experiences, fixed in aphorisms, stiffen into cold epigram. Our heart’s blood, as we write with it, turns to mere dull ink.
The one condition coupled with the gift of truth is its use.
“The Method of Nature,” speech, Waterville College, Maine (11 Aug 1841)
HAL9000: The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.
Marriage is not just spiritual communion and passionate embraces; marriage is also three-meals-a-day and remembering to carry out the trash.
Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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