Quotations about   beauty

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Makeup: Western equivalent of the veil. A daily reminder that something is wrong with women’s normal looks. A public apology.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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Added on 6-Mar-19 | Last updated 6-Mar-19
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Life is not only full of sound and fury. It also has butterflies, flowers, art.

Claude Simon (1913-2005) French novelist, critic, Nobel Laureate (Literature)
“The Art of Fiction,” #128, Interview with A. Eyle, The Paris Review (Spring 1992)
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See Shakespeare.
Added on 28-Dec-18 | Last updated 28-Dec-18
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Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (16 May 1834)
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Makeup is not beauty. When artfully applied, it merely enhances what’s already there — the red paint on the fire engine.

Mae West (1892-1980) American film actress
Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It: The Autobiography of Mae West (1959)
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Beauties in vain their pretty Eyes may roll;
Charms strike the Sight, but Merit wins the Soul.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
The Rape of the Lock, Canto 5, l. 33 (1712)
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Added on 3-Oct-17 | Last updated 3-Oct-17
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If God didn’t want women to be looked at, he would have made ’em ugly — that’s reasonable, isn’t it? God isn’t a cheat; He set up the game Himself — He wouldn’t rig it so that the marks can’t win, like a flat joint wheel in a town with the fix on. He wouldn’t send anybody to Hell for losing in a crooked game.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, ch. 27 [Patty] (1961)
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Added on 21-Jul-17 | Last updated 21-Jul-17
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Phryne Fisher had a taste for young and comely men, but she was not prone to trust them with anything but her body.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Cocaine Blues (1989)
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Added on 15-Jun-17 | Last updated 15-Jun-17
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Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ch. 16 [Ford] (1979)
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Added on 14-Jun-17 | Last updated 14-Jun-17
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The Woman tempted me — and tempts me still!
Lord god, I pray You that she ever will!

Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932) Canadian poet
“Adam”
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Added on 8-May-17 | Last updated 8-May-17
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All of God’s children are not beautiful. Most of God’s children are, in fact, barely presentable.

Fran Lebowitz (b. 1950) American journalist
Metropolitan Life, “Manners” (1978)
Added on 8-May-17 | Last updated 8-May-17
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The Owl looked up to the Stars above
And sang to a small guitar,
“Oh lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are.”

lear-owl-beautiful-pussy-you-are-wist_info-quote

Edward Lear (1812-1888) English artist, musician, author, poet
“The Owl and the Pussy-Cat,” l. 5 (1871)
Added on 16-Jan-17 | Last updated 16-Jan-17
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Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) Austrian-American film actress and inventor [b, Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Richard Schickel, The Stars (1962).
Added on 9-Jan-17 | Last updated 9-Jan-17
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It must be added, lest we be reproached for leaving out details important to our readers’ understanding of subsequent events, that the lady seemed to have all the attributes of beauty, grace and charm that make a young man’s heart beat faster and cause his eyes to widen, lest they miss the least nuance of expression or gesture. It need hardly be added that Khaavren was just of the type to appreciate all of these qualities; that is to say, he was young and a man, and had, moreover, a vivid imagination which allowed his thoughts to penetrate, if not the mind of the lady opposite him, at least the folds and angles of her gown.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Added on 21-Oct-16 | Last updated 21-Oct-16
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Hell to ships, hell to men, hell to cities.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon

Speaking of Helen of Troy. The literal translation is "Ship-destroyer, man-destroyer, city-destroyer."
Added on 10-Oct-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-16
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“A man’s virility is in his beard,” he insisted.

To which Alexia replied, “And a woman’s is in her décolletage. Yet you don’t see me allowing mine to get out of control, now, do you?”

“If wishes were balloons,’ was his only response.

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Timeless (2012)
Added on 6-Oct-16 | Last updated 6-Oct-16
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Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.

Jacqueline Bisset (b. 1944) English actress.
In “Actress with 3 Countries,” Los Angeles Times (16 May 1974)
Added on 4-Oct-16 | Last updated 4-Oct-16
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Fine natures are like fine poems; a glance at the first two lines suffices for a guess into the beauty that waits you, if you read on.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) English novelist and politician
My Novel, or Varieties in English Life (1853)
Added on 27-Sep-16 | Last updated 27-Sep-16
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I know the colour rose, and it is lovely,
But not when it ripens in a tumour;
And healing greens, leaves and grass, so springlike,
In Limbs that fester are not springlike.

Daniel "Dannie" Abse (1923-2014) Welsh poet
“Pathology of Colours” (1968)
Added on 2-Sep-16 | Last updated 2-Sep-16
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Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.

Brooks - duty well love beautifully - wist_info quote

Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) American clergyman, hymnist
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Life and Light for Woman, Vol. 26, #1 (Jan 1896)
Added on 18-Jul-16 | Last updated 18-Jul-16
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A cheerful temper, joined with innocence will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit good-natured.

Addison - cheerful temper - wist_info quote

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Tatler #192 (1 Jul 1710)
Added on 15-Jul-16 | Last updated 15-Jul-16
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Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
Caption, Vogue (1916)

Quoted and attributed in Alexander Woollcott, While Rome Burns (1934). Modeled after Shakespeare.
Added on 27-May-16 | Last updated 27-May-16
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I suppose when there’s no more room for another crow’s-foot, one attains a sort of peace?

Ronald Firbank (1886-1926) British novelist and playwright
Valmouth (1918)
Added on 25-Feb-16 | Last updated 25-Feb-16
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YODA: When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not, hmm?

Kasdan - 900 years old you reach - wist_info quote

Lawrence Kasdan (b. 1949) American screenwriter, director, producer
Return of the Jedi (1983) [with George Lucas]
Added on 19-Feb-16 | Last updated 19-Feb-16
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The body of a young woman is God’s greatest achievement. […] Of course, He could have built it to last longer but you can’t have everything.

Neil Simon (b. 1927) American playwright and screenwriter
The Gingerbread Lady (1970)
Added on 15-Feb-16 | Last updated 15-Feb-16
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The three most beautiful words in the English language are not “I love you.” They are: “It is benign.”

Woody Allen (b. 1935) American comedian, writer, director [b. Allan Steward Konigsberg]
Deconstructing Harry (1998)
Added on 11-Feb-16 | Last updated 11-Feb-16
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     “If they were ugly, Peter, would you care half so much?” asked Nightingale. “There are some hideous things out there that can talk and reason and I wonder if you would be quite so quick to rush to their defense.”
     “Maybe not,” I said. “But that just makes me shallow, it doesn’t make me wrong.”

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Moon Over Soho (2011)
Added on 9-Dec-15 | Last updated 9-Dec-15
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Doesn’t matter how pretty you are. What’s important is how pretty you feel. No one feels pretty when they hear “no” often enough.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Skin Game (2014)
Added on 30-Nov-15 | Last updated 30-Nov-15
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We each have a moral obligation to conserve and preserve beauty in this world; there is none to waste.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Friday [Dr. Baldwin] (1982)
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I’ve never understood all this fuss people make about the dawn. I’ve seen a few and they’re never as good as the photographs, which have the additional advantage of being things you can look at when you’re in the right frame of mind, which is usually around lunchtime.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Last Chance to See, ch. 4 (1990)
Added on 10-Aug-15 | Last updated 10-Aug-15
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To tell a woman who is forty, “You look like sixteen,” is baloney. The blarney way of saying it is: “Tell me how old you are, I should like to know at what age women are most beautiful.”

Fulton Sheen (1895-1979) American Catholic archbishop, preacher, televangelist
Life Is Worth Living, s.5 (1957)
Added on 6-Jul-15 | Last updated 6-Jul-15
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She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
Added on 24-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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Was this the face that launched a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) English dramatist and poet
Doctor Faustus, Act 5, sc. 1 (1604)
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A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.

John Keats (1795-1821) English poet
“Endymion” Book 1, l. 1 (1818)
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Grace is beauty in action.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838)
Added on 18-Feb-15 | Last updated 13-May-16
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Beauty loses its relish; the graces never.

Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782) Scottish jurist, agriculturalist, philosopher, writer
Introduction to the Art of Thinking (1761)
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Polished brass will pass upon more people than rough gold.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (6 Mar 1747)
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To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Sonnet 104
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BENDIS: We’re gonna die.
MAL: We’re not gonna die. We can’t die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so — very — pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×01 “Serenity” (pilot) (20 Dec 2002)
Added on 29-Jan-15 | Last updated 29-Jan-15
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I believe long habits of virtue have a sensible effect on the countenance.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
“Busy-Body Papers,” American Weekly Mercury (18 Feb 1729)
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For if he wou’d try effectually to acquire the real Science or TASTE of Life; he wou’d certainly discover, “That a RIGHT MIND, and GENEROUS AFFECTION, had more Beauty and Charm, than all other Symmetrys in the World besides.”

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 3, “Miscellany III,” ch. 3 (1711)
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Added on 23-Jan-15 | Last updated 23-Jan-15
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Love that has nothing but beauty to keep it in good health is short-lived, and apt to have ague fits.

Desiderius Erasmus (1465-1536) Dutch humanist philosopher and scholar
(Attributed)

Quoted without citation in numerous 19th Century works, including John Timbs, Laconics: Or, The Best Words of the Best Authors (1829).
Added on 21-Jan-15 | Last updated 21-Jan-15
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Richard Cumberland (1732-1811) English dramatist and civil servant.
The Observer (1788)
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She walks in beauty like the night,
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
“She Walks in Beauty” (1815)
Added on 31-Dec-14 | Last updated 31-Dec-14
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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
1 Peter 3:3-4 [NIV]

Alt. trans.:

  • "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." [KJV]
  • "You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God's sight." [TEV]
  • "Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight." [NRSV]
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First Shakespeare sonnets seem meaningless; first Bach fugues, a bore; first differential equations, sheer torture. But training changes the nature of our spiritual experiences. In due course, contact with an obscurely beautiful poem, an elaborate piece of counterpoint or of mathematical reasoning, causes us to feel direct intuitions of beauty and significance. It is the same in the moral world.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means (1937)
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A pretty girl is like a melody
That haunts you night and day,
Just like the strain of a haunting refrain,
She’ll start upon a marathon
And run around your brain.

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) American songwriter [b. Isidore Beilin]
“A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody” (1919)
Added on 17-Dec-14 | Last updated 17-Dec-14
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Good nature will always supply the absence of beauty; but beauty cannot supply the absence of good nature.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #306 (6 Feb 1712)
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Beauty is only skin deep, but it is a valuable asset if you are poor or have not any sense.

Kin Hubbard (1868-1930) American caricaturist and humorist [Frank McKinney Hubbard]
(Attributed)

See Thomas Adams.
Added on 3-Dec-14 | Last updated 3-Dec-14
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Beauty is only skin-deep.

Thomas Adams (1583–1653) English Calvinist clergyman and preacher
The Blacke Devill or the Apostate (1615)
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Five foot two, eyes of blue,
But oh! what those five feet could do,
Has anybody seen my girl?

Sam M. Lewis (1885-1959) American singer and lyricist
“Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” (1925)
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Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden (b. 1956) American editor, writer, essayist
Making Light, “Commonplaces”
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Added on 25-Sep-14 | Last updated 25-Sep-14
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“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” — that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats (1795-1821) English poet
“Ode on a Grecian Urn,” st. 5 (1819)
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I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried — “La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!”

John Keats (1795-1821) English poet
“La Belle Dame sans Merci,” st. 10 (1819)
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There is hardly any bodily blemish which a winning behaviour will not conceal, or make tolerable; and there is no external grace which ill-nature or affectation will not deform.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
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Added on 28-Aug-14 | Last updated 28-Aug-14
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You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest.

John Keats (1795-1821) English poet
Letter to Fanny Brawne (Mar 1820)
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