Quotations about   despair

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The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal. Both assumptions are false: both of them must be accepted as true if we are to go on eating and working and loving, and are to keep open a few breathing-holes for the human spirit. No millennium seems likely to descend upon humanity; no better and stronger League of Nations will be instituted; no form of Christianity and no alternative to Christianity will bring peace to the world or integrity to the individual; no “change of heart” will occur. And yet we need not despair, indeed, we cannot despair; the evidence of history shows us that men have always insisted on behaving creatively under the shadow of the sword; that they have done their artistic and scientific and domestic stuff for the sake of doing it, and that we had better follow their example under the shadow of the aeroplanes.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Added on 20-Sep-19 | Last updated 20-Sep-19
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It is not a threat but a fact of history that if an oppressed people’s pent-up emotions are not nonviolently released, they will be violently released. So let the Negro march. Let him make pilgrimages to city hall. Let him go on freedom rides. And above all, make an effort to understand why he must do this. For if his frustration and despair are allowed to continue piling up, millions of Negroes will seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies. And this, inevitably, would lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 13-Apr-18 | Last updated 13-Apr-18
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Take hope from the heart of man and you make him a beast of prey.

Ouida (1839-1908) English novelist [pseud. of Maria Louise Ramé]
A Village Commune, ch. 20 (1881)
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Added on 11-Sep-17 | Last updated 11-Sep-17
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Absence from whom we love is worse than death,
And frustrate hope severer than despair.

William Cowper (1731-1800) English poet
“Hope, like the short-lived ray that gleams awhile”
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Added on 1-Aug-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“The Poets,” Atlantic Monthly (Jul 1878)
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Added on 23-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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There is no lasting hope in violence, only temporary relief from hopelessness.

Kingman Brewster, Jr. (1919-1988) American educator, diplomat
(Attributed)
Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
‘Where Do We Go From Here?” Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1967)
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Added on 28-Oct-16 | Last updated 28-Oct-16
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One day I sat thinking, almost in despair; a hand fell on my shoulder and a voice said reassuringly: cheer up, things could get worse. So I cheered up and, sure enough, things got worse.

Other Authors and Sources
James Haggerty (1909-1981) Press Secretary to President Eisenhower
Added on 9-Aug-16 | Last updated 9-Aug-16
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When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hopes hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go for a good spin down the road,
without thought of anything but the ride you are taking.

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) British writer and physician
In The American Bee Keeper (May 1895)
Added on 19-Nov-15 | Last updated 19-Nov-15
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Life often seems like a long shipwreck, of which the debris are friendship, glory, and love; the shores of existence are strewn with them.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Reflections on Suicide [Réflexions sur le suicide], Sec. 1 (1813) [tr. De Finod]
Added on 18-Nov-15 | Last updated 18-Nov-15
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Despair says, I cannot lift that weight. Happiness says, I do not have to.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 4 (2001)
Added on 28-Aug-15 | Last updated 28-Aug-15
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When I was young, for two or three years the light faded out of the picture. I did my work. I sat in the House of Commons, but black depression settled on me. It helped me to talk to Clemmie about it. I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible to get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Remark to Lord Moran (14 Aug 1944)

In Lord Moran, Churchill: Taken from the Diaries of Lord Moran, ch. 19 (1966)
Added on 30-Apr-15 | Last updated 30-Apr-15
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One overmuch elated with success
A change of fortune plunges in distress.

Horace (65-8 BC) Roman poet and satirist [Quintus Horacius Flaccus]
Epistles, 1.10 [ed. Kraemer, Jr (1936)]
Added on 30-Jan-15 | Last updated 30-Jan-15
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I wouldn’t want to live in Tomorrowland, where the social patterns and infrastructure are all so spiff and modern and rational and well-designed that any remaining problems must needs be insoluble, and so a cause for despair.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden (b. 1956) American editor, writer, essayist
“On Time” (1995)
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Added on 29-Aug-14 | Last updated 29-Aug-14
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Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.

Malcolm X (1925-1965) American revolutionary, religious leader [b. Malcolm Little]
Malcolm X Speaks, ch. 9 “With Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer” (1965)
Added on 1-Nov-13 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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HELENA: Oft expectation fails and most oft there
Where most it promises, and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest and despair most fits.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
All’s Well that Ends Well, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 145 (1602)
Added on 26-Feb-10 | Last updated 20-May-16
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The greatest test of courage is to bear defeat without losing heart.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Declaration of Independence” (1876)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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