Quotations about:

Note not all quotations have been tagged, so Search may find additional quotes on this topic.

Having a baby is like trying to push a grand piano through a transom.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980) American writer and socialite

On the birth of her daughter. Though widely attributed to Longworth, she in turn (as she did with many of her attributed witticisms) attributed it to someone else.

Quoted in Michael Teague, ed., Mrs. L.: Conversations With Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Introduction (1981).
Added on 12-Apr-24 | Last updated 12-Apr-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Longworth, Alice Roosevelt

PRINCE: Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out o’ question, you were born in a merry hour.

BEATRICE: No, sure, my lord, my mother cried, but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 324ff (2.1.324-329) (1598)
Added on 18-Mar-24 | Last updated 18-Mar-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Shakespeare, William

LEAR: When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Lear, Act 4, sc. 6, l. 200ff (4.6.200-201) (1606)
Added on 18-Dec-23 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Shakespeare, William

Child, your first birthday presents will come from nature’s wild —
Small presents: earth will shower you with romping ivy, foxgloves,
Bouquets of gipsy lilies and sweetly-smiling acanthus.

[At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu
errantis hederas passim cum baccare tellus
20mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
Eclogues [Eclogae, Bucolics, Pastorals], No. 4 “Pollio,” l. 18ff (4.18-20) (42-38 BC) [tr. Day Lewis (1963)]

Celebrating the birth of Saloninus, a boy born in the consulship of his father and Virgil's patron C. Asinius Pollio. Or, possibly, writing of Marcellus, son of Augustus. Or maybe just a lot of veiled references to Augustus himself. Or, say some, divine prophecy of the future Jesus Christ. Lots of theories; some summaries here and here.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Which shall to thee (sweet childe) undrest, bring forth,
Berries, wilde Ivie, and shall pay first fruits
Of mixt Acanthus, with Egyptian roots.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Unbidden Earth shall wreathing Ivy bring,⁠
And fragrant Herbs (the promises of Spring)
As her first Off'rings to her Infant King.
[tr. Dryden (1709), l. 22ff]

Gladly to thee its natal gifts the field,
Till'd by no human hand, bright Boy, shall yield;
The baccar's stem with curling ivy twine.
And colocasia and acanthus join.
[tr. Wrangham (1830)]

Meanwhile the earth, O boy, as her first offerings, shall pour thee forth every where, without culture, creeping ivy with lady's glove, and Egyptian beans with smiling acanthus intermixed.
[tr. Davidson (1854)]

On thee, child, everywhere shall earth, untilled,
Show'r, her first baby-offerings, vagrant stems
Of ivy, foxglove, and gay briar, and bean.
[tr. Calverley (c. 1871)]

Yes, for you, sweet boy, shall the earth untilled pour forth far and wide a child's simple gifts, the creeping ivy twined with foxglove, and Egyptian beans blended with the bright smile of acanthus.
[tr. Wilkins (1873)]

To deck thy cradle earth spontaneous pours
The spikenard's perfume and the wealth of flowers,
Green ivy creeps around with graceful thread,
And bright acanthus smiles upon the bed.
[tr. King (1882), l. 282ff]

Now, fairest boy, will the new-teeming earth
No culture wait, but pour to make thee mirth,
As toys of off'ring she can soonest bear,
Wild nard and errant ivy everywhere,
And with th' Egyptian lily twined in play,
Laughing acanthus.
[tr. Palmer (1883)]

For thee, O boy,
first shall the earth, untilled, pour freely forth
her childish gifts, the gadding ivy-spray
with foxglove and Egyptian bean-flower mixed,
and laughing-eyed acanthus.
[tr. Greenough (1895)]

Meanwhile the earth, O boy, as her first offerings, shall pour forth for you everywhere, without culture, creeping ivy with lady’s glove, and Egyptian beans with smiling acanthus intermixed.
[tr. Bryce (1897)]

But on thee, O boy, untilled shall Earth first pour childish gifts, wandering ivy-tendrils and foxglove, and colocasia mingled with the laughing acanthus.
[tr. Mackail (1899)]

To him shall bring
Uncultured earth her first small offerings,
Creeping wild ivy, arums, foxgloves too,
Smiling acanthus with bright polished leaf.
[tr. Mackail/Cardew, verse (1908)]

For tributes at thy birth, O blessed babe.
The untilled earth with wandering ivies wild
Shall mingle spikenard, and from bounteous breast
Pour forth her lilies and Egyptian balm.
[tr. Williams (1915)]

But for you, child, the earth untilled will pour forth its first pretty gifts, gadding ivy with foxglove everywhere, and the Egyptian bean blended with the laughing briar; unbidden it will pour forth for you a cradle of smiling flowers.
[tr. Fairclough (Loeb) (1916)]

Free-roaming ivy, foxgloves in every dell, and smiling acanthus mingled with Egyptian lilies — these, little one, are the first modest gifts that earth, unprompted by the hoe, will lavish on you.
[tr. Rieu (1949)]

But these, dear boy, are the first pretty gifts in plenty
Our Earth from effortless fields shall bring you: ivy
With foxglove wandering hither and thither, commingled
With lotus and laughing-eyed acanthus.
[tr. Johnson (1960)]

Dear child, there will be new little gifts for you,
Springtime valerian, and trailing ivy,
Egyptian beans, and smiling acanthus, all
poured out profusely from the untilled earth.
[tr. Ferry (1999)]

And for you, boy, the uncultivated earth will pour out
her first little gifts, straggling ivy and cyclamen everywhere
and the bean flower with the smiling acanthus.
[tr. Kline (2001)]

And for you, little boy, the uncultivated earth will scatter its first small gifts, wandering ivy and cyclamens everywhere, beans mixed with laughing acanthus.
[tr. @sentantiq (2015)]

Added on 25-Oct-23 | Last updated 3-Jan-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Virgil

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

Richard Dawkins (b. 1941) English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, author
Unweaving The Rainbow, ch. 1 “The Anaesthetic of Familiarity” (1998)

Dawkins has said this passage will be read at his funeral.
Added on 10-Oct-23 | Last updated 10-Oct-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Dawkins, Richard

I remember nothing of this, no ambulance rides, nothing. Nothing between switching out the bedside lamp and the sudden indignity of rebirth: the slaps, the brightness, the tubing, the speed, the urgent insistence that I be choked back into breathing life. I have felt so sorry for babies ever since.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry (b. 1957) British actor, writer, comedian
Moab Is My Washpot, “Breaking Out,” ch. 1 (1997)

On his suicide attempt by drug overdose at age 17.
Added on 7-Jun-23 | Last updated 25-Oct-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Fry, Stephen

Probably no parent is truly born in the moment of birth; the miracle more likely happens in the moment the baby first curls its tiny hand around the parent’s large finger.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1963-01/02)
Added on 20-Sep-22 | Last updated 28-Aug-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Cox, Marcelene

A blossom must break the sheath it has been sheltered by.

Phyllis Bottome
Phyllis Bottome (1884-1963) British novelist and short story writer [mar. Phyllis Forbes Dennis]
The Mortal Storm, ch. 15 (1938)
Added on 26-Aug-22 | Last updated 26-Aug-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Bottome, Phyliis

Yet, if nothing else, each time a new baby is born there is a possibility of reprieve. Each child is a new being, a potential prophet, a new spiritual prince, a new spark of light precipitated into the outer darkness. Who are we to decide that it is hopeless?

R D Laing
R. D. Laing (1927-1989) Scottish psychiatrist [Ronald David Laing]
The Politics of Experience, ch. 1 (1967)
Added on 15-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Laing, R. D.

As many years as I have been listening to Easter sermons, I have never heard anyone talk about that part. Resurrection is always announced with Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets, bright streaming light. But it did not happen that way. If it happened in a cave, it happened in complete silence, in absolute darkness, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air. Sitting deep in the heart of Organ Cave, I let this sink in: new life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Learning to Walk in the Dark
Added on 3-Dec-21 | Last updated 3-Dec-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Taylor, Barbara Brown

PERICLES: I see that Time’s the king of men,
For he’s their parent, and he is their grave,
And gives them what he will, not what they crave.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Pericles, Act 2, sc. 3, l. 49ff (2.3.49-51) (1607) [with George Wilkins]
Added on 17-Nov-21 | Last updated 8-Feb-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Shakespeare, William

Without darkness, nothing comes to birth,
As without light, nothing flowers.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
“The Invocation to Kali,” Part 5, Poetry (Feb 1971)
Added on 24-Aug-21 | Last updated 24-Aug-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Sarton, May

As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
Burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies.

[Οἵη περ φύλλων γενεὴ τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν.
φύλλα τὰ μέν τ’ ἄνεμος χαμάδις χέει, ἄλλα δέ θ’ ὕλη
τηλεθόωσα φύει, ἔαρος δ’ ἐπιγίγνεται ὥρη·
ὣς ἀνδρῶν γενεὴ ἣ μὲν φύει ἣ δ’ ἀπολήγει.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 6, l. 146ff (6.146-149) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Lattimore (1951)]

Like the race of leaves
The race of man is, that deserves no question; nor receives
My being any other breath? The wind in autumn strows
The earth with old leaves, then the spring the woods with new endows;
And so death scatters men on earth, so life puts out again
Man’s leavy issue.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 141ff]

Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground:
Another race the following spring supplies,
They fall successive, and successive rise:
So generations in their course decay;
So flourish these, when those are past away.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

For, as the leaves, such is the race of man.
The wind shakes down the leaves, the budding grove
Soon teems with others, and in spring they grow.
So pass mankind. One generation meets
Its destined period, and a new succeeds.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 175ff]

As is the race of leaves, even such is the race of men. Some leaves the wind sheds upon the ground, but the fructifying wood produces others, and these grow up in the season of spring. Such is the generation of men; one produces, another ceases.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

The race of man is as the race of leaves:
Of leaves, one generation by the wind
Is scatter'd on the earth; another soon
In spring's luxuriant verdure bursts to light.
So with our race; these flourish, those decay.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

Even as are the generations of leaves such are those likewise of men; the leaves that be the wind scattereth on the earth, and the forest buddeth and putteth forth more again, when the season of spring is at hand; so of the generations of men one putteth forth and another ceaseth.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Men come and go as leaves year by year upon the trees. Those of autumn the wind sheds upon the ground, but when spring returns the forest buds forth with fresh vines. Even so is it with the generations of mankind, the new spring up as the old are passing away.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Even as are the generations of leaves, such are those also of men. As for the leaves, the wind scattereth some upon the earth, but the forest, as it bourgeons, putteth forth others when the season of spring is come; even so of men one generation springeth up and another passeth away.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Very like leaves upon this earth are the generations of men -- old leaves, cast on the ground by wind, young leaves the greening forest bears when spring comes in. So mortals pass; one generation flowers even as another dies away.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men.
Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth,
now the living timber bursts with the new buds
and spring comes round again. And so with men:
as one generation comes to life, another dies away.
[tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 171-75]
Added on 16-Sep-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Homer

As the births of living creatures at first are ill-shapen, so are all Innovations, which are the births of time.


Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Innovations,” Essays, No. 24 (1625)
Added on 15-Sep-16 | Last updated 25-Mar-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Bacon, Francis

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
Added on 15-Apr-13 | Last updated 30-Jun-22
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Boorstin, Daniel J.