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rubaiyat 135.3-4Go, sit in the shade of the rose, for every rose
That springs from the earth, again to earth soon goes away!

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer [عمر خیام]
Rubáiyát [رباعیات], Bod. # 135, ll. 3-4 [tr. M. K. (1888)]

Alternate translations:

And look -- a thousand Blossoms with the Day
Woke -- and a thousand scatter'd into Clay
[tr. FitzGerald, 1st ed. (1859), # 8]

Morning a thousand Roses brings, you say;
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of yesterday?
[tr. FitzGerald, 2nd Ed (1868), # 9]

Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say:
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?
[tr. FitzGerald, 3rd ed. (1872), # 9; same in later editions]

Sit in the shade of the rose, for many times this rose from earth has come, and unto earth has gone.
[tr. McCarthy (1879), # 463]

Sit we beneath this rose, which many a time
Has sunk to earth, and sprung from earth again.
[tr. Whinfield (1883), # 414]

Sit in the shade of the rose, for, by the wind, many roses
have been scattered to earth and have become dust.
[tr. Heron-Allen (1898), # 135]

Sit we 'neath this rose shade, for many a rose
Wind strewn in earth has turned to earth again!
[tr. Thompson (1906), # 522]

Sit in her fragrant bower, for oft the wind
Hath strewn and turn'd to dust such flowers as these.
[tr. Talbot (1908), # 135]

Rest in the shadow of the rose, for many of its leaves will the rose
Shed on the earth while we lie under the earth.
[tr. Rosen (1928), # 270]

Stay, Dearest One! beneath the rosy shade,
The roses bloom for Thee but soon would blight.
[tr. Tirtha (1941), # 3.7]

Sit in the rose's shadow, for oftentimes this rose shall spill upon the dust, when we are dust.
[tr. Bowen (1976), # 5a]

The Rosetree spills her petals in the dust,
And nothing of her fragrant harvest saves;
And yet this Rose, a plaything of the breeze,
Will bloom each year when we are in our graves.
[tr. Bowen (1976), # 5b]

Added on 21-Mar-24 | Last updated 21-Mar-24
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In order to not find life unbearable, you must accept two things: the ravages of time, and the injustices of man.
[Il y a deux choses auxquelles il faut se faire, sous peine de trouver la vie insupportable. Ce sont les injures du tems et les injustices des hommes.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 2, ¶ 115 (1795) [tr. Parmée (2003), ¶ 95]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

There are two things to which we must become inured on pain of finding life intolerable: the outrages of time and man's injustice.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

There are two things that one must get used to or one will find life unendurable: the damages of time and the injustices of men.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

There are two things that a man must reconcile himself to, or he will find life unbearable: they are the injuries of time and the injuries of men.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

Added on 29-Jan-24 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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For of old
Rome said to me — “Your readers are your gold.
By them the stream of Lethe you’ll survive,
By them the better part of you will live.”
The wild fig splits Messalla’s marbles through,
And Crispus’ steeds are shattered quite in two :
But books are helped by time nor hurt by thieves,
Memorials that death uninjured leaves.

[Quem cum mihi Roma dedisset.
“Nil tibi quod demus maius habemus” ait.
“Pigra per hunc fugies ingratae flumina Lethes
Et meliore tui parte superstes eris.
Marmora Messallae findit caprificus, et audax
Dimidios Crispi mulio ridet equos:
At chartis nec furta nocent et saecula prosunt,
Solaque non norunt haec monumenta mori.”]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 2 (10.2) (AD 95, 98 ed.)[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Reader, my wealth; whom when to me Rome gave,
Nought greater to bestow (quoth she) I have.
By him ingratefull Lethe thou shalt flye,
And in thy better part shalt never dye.
Wilde Fig-trees rend Messalla's Marbles off;
Crispus halfe-horses the bold Carters scoffe.
Writings no age can wrong, no thieving hand.
Deathlesse alone those Monuments will stand.
[tr. May (1629)]

When Fate to me a constant reader gave;
Receive, she said, the greatest boon I have.
By this beyond oblivion's stream arrive;
And in your better party by this survive.
Statues may moulder; and the clown unbred
Scoff at young Ammon's horse without his head.
But finish'd writings theft and time defy;
The only monument, which cannot die.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Reader, our riches! Well, said, Rome, I know,
A blester boon I have not to bestow.
By this though thro' Lethean streams shalt strive,
And in thy better part shalt still survive.
The wilding may Messala's marble cleave,
The speaker silence, and the sculptor reave.
The mule's pert driver may reproachless laugh,
At Crispus' coursers dwindled down to half.
Wit's labors onely rape or age defy:
His monuments alone can never die.
[tr. Elphinston (1782)]

When Rome gave you [readers] to me, she said, "I have nothing greater to give you. By his means you will escape the sluggish waves of ungrateful Lethe, and will survive in the better part of yourself. The marble tomb of Messale is split by the wild fig, and the audacious muleteer laughs at the mutilated horses of the statue of Crispus.1 But as for writings, they are indestructible either by thieves or the ravages of time; such monuments alone are proof against death."
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

For when Rome had given you to me, she said: We have nothing greater to give you. By him will you escape unthankful Lethe's sluggish stream, and will in your better part survive. Messalla's marble the wild-fig sunders, and boldly the mule-driver laughs at Crispus' steeds broken in two. But writings thefts do not injure, and time befriends them, and alone these monuments know not death."
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Rome can tell how dear,
Who gave thee, saying, "Take my best; 'tis here;
By him ungrateful Lethe thou shallt flee
And thy best parts have immortality."
The fig-tree splits Messala's marble blocks,
And the rough drover draggled Crispus mocks.
Verses grow great with Time and Fate defy;
Such monuments alone can never die.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 508]

When Rome gave you to me, she said: "I have nothing greater to give you. through him you will escape ungrateful Lethe's idle waters and survive in the better part of yourself. The fig tree splits Messalla's marble, the bold muleteer laughs at Crispus' halved horses. But thefts do not harm paper and the centuries do it good. These are the only memorials that cannot die."
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Reader, Patron, willed to me by Rome
saying: "No greater gift! Through him
You'll flee neglectful Lethe's stagnant flood --
the better part of you survive.
Wild-fig rives the marble, heedless muleteers
deride the busted steeds of bronze.
But verse no decrease knows, time adds to verse,
deathless alone of monuments."
[tr. Whigham (1985), "Rome's Gift"]

Added on 22-Sep-23 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying, and then you are no longer a human being.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Commencement speech, Connecticut College (1975-05-25)

Quoted in Peter Smith, ed., Onward! 25 Years of Advice, Exhortation, and Inspiration from America's Best Commencement Speeches (2000).
Added on 22-Aug-23 | Last updated 22-Aug-23
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Better to sink beneath the shock
Than moulder piecemeal on the rock!

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
“The Giaour,” ll. 969-970 (1813)
Added on 3-Nov-22 | Last updated 3-Nov-22
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All passes. — Only strong art
Passes to eternity.
The bust
Survives the city.

And the austere coin
That a workman finds
Reveals an emperor.

[Tout passe. — L’art robuste
Seul a l’éternité,
     Le buste
Survit à la cité.

Et la médaille austère
Que trouve un laboureur
     Sous terre
Révèle un empereur.]

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) French poet, writer, critic
“L’Art,” l. 41ff, Émaux et Camées (1852)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Everything passes. --
Only robust art is eternal.
The bust outlives the city.

And the simple coin
Unearthed by a peasant
Reveals the image of an emperor.

All passes, Art alone
Enduring stays to us;
The Bust outlasts the throne, --
The Coin, Tiberius.
[Austin Dobson, "Ars Victrix" (1876), in imitation]

Everything passes -- Robust art
Alone is eternal.
The bust
Survives the city.

Everything disappears -- Robust art
   alone is eternal:
      The Bust survives the city.

Everything passes away. -- Robust Art
   Alone has eternity;
      The bust
   Survives the city.

Added on 7-Apr-22 | Last updated 7-Apr-22
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And earth who herself bestowed the body takes it back and wastes not a whit.

[Terram corpus quae dederit, ipsam capere neque dispendi facere hilum.]

Quintus Ennius
Ennius (239-169 BC) Roman poet, writer [Quintus Ennius]
Fragment from the Annales Book 1, frag. 11-12 [tr. Warmingham (1935)]

In Varro, De Lingua Latina, Book 5, sec 60, ll. 4-5 (1st C BC). In some locations, the Latin is given as "terraque corpus quae dedit ipsa capit neque dispendi facit hilum."

Alternate translations:
The body she's given Earth does herself take back, and of loss not a whit does she suffer.
[tr. Kent (1938)]

Earth herself takes back the body which she gave, and permits no loss whatsoever.
[Source (2013)]

Added on 10-Jun-21 | Last updated 10-Jun-21
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Two things have always been true about human beings. One, the world is always getting better. Two, the people living at that time think it’s getting worse. It’s because you get older, your responsibilities are different. Now I’m taking care of children instead of being a child. It makes the world look scarier. That happens to everyone.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
“Honest Questions with Penn Jillette,” Interview by Glen Beck, CNN (2 Nov 2007)
Added on 15-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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When theology erodes and organization crumbles, when the institutional framework of religion begins to break up, the search for a direct experience which people can feel to be religious facilitates the rise of cults.

Daniel Bell (1919-2011) American sociologist, writer, editor, academic
“Religion in the Sixties,” Social Research (Fall 1971)
Added on 1-Mar-21 | Last updated 1-Mar-21
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If there is one thing which a comparative study of religions places in the clearest light, it is the inevitable decay to which every religion is exposed. It may seem almost like a truism, that no religion can continue to be what it was during the lifetime of its founder and its first apostles. Yet it is but seldom borne in mind that without constant reformation, i.e. without a constant return to its fountain-head, every religion, even the most perfect, nay the most perfect on account of its very perfection, more even than others, suffers from its contact with the world, as the purest air suffers from the mere fact of its being breathed.

Max Müller (1823-1900) German-British philologist, Orientalist, religious studies founder
Chips from a German Workshop, Preface (1866)
Added on 23-Oct-20 | Last updated 23-Oct-20
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Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.

Edward Thorndike (1874-1949) American psychologist, educator
Added on 5-Apr-18 | Last updated 5-Apr-18
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So fleet the works of men, back to their earth again;
Ancient and holy things fade like a dream.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
“Old and New,” ll. 3–4 (1848)
Added on 18-Jul-17 | Last updated 18-Jul-17
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It used to be a good hotel, but that proves nothing — I used to be a good boy, for that matter. Both of us have lost character of late years.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Innocents Abroad, ch. 57 (1869)
Added on 20-Apr-17 | Last updated 20-Apr-17
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The goal of every culture is to decay through over-civilization; the factors of decadence, — luxury, skepticism, weariness and superstition, — are constant. The civilization of one epoch becomes the manure of the next.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
The Unquiet Grave (1944)
Added on 13-Feb-17 | Last updated 13-Feb-17
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The monuments of wit and learning are more durable than the monuments of power, or of the hands. For have not the verses of Homer continued twenty-five hundred years or more, without the loss of a syllable or letter; during which time infinite palaces, temples, castles, cities have been decayed and demolished?

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Essex’s Device (1595)
Added on 3-Mar-16 | Last updated 3-Mar-16
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Leaders I feel should guide as far as they can — and then vanish. Their ashes should not choke the fire they have lit.

H.G. Wells (1866-1946) British writer [Herbert George Wells]
Experiment in Autobiography, ch. 9, sec. 2 “The Samurai — In Utopia and in the Fabian Society (1905-1909)” (1934)

Variant: "Leaders should lead as far as they can and then vanish. Their ashes should not choke the fire they have lit."
Added on 5-Oct-15 | Last updated 5-Oct-15
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When the gap between the ideal and real becomes too wide, the system breaks down.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, Foreward (1978)
Added on 2-Jun-15 | Last updated 2-Jun-15
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In political institutions, almost everything we call an abuse was once a remedy.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist, philosopher, essayist, poet
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 18-Nov-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Hobbit, ch. 5 “Riddles in the Dark” [Gollum] (1937)

One of Gollum's riddles for Bilbo. The answer is "time."
Added on 15-Feb-11 | Last updated 25-Aug-22
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When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults and they enter society, one of the politer names of hell. That is why we dread children, even if we love them. They show us the state of our decay.

Brian Aldiss
Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) English writer, editor
“The Plain Man’s Guide to Eternity,” The Guardian (1971-08-06)

Often cited (unconfirmed) to the later Manchester Guardian (1977-12-31).
Added on 21-Aug-08 | Last updated 27-Sep-23
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Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“The Second Coming,” ll.1-8 (1920)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Sep-21
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