Quotations about   journey

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There is a pleasure unknown to the landsman in reading at sea.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
“Something to Read,” Harper’s #829 (Jun 1919)
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Added on 9-Jul-21 | Last updated 9-Jul-21
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We never see the entire stretch of the road from any one point. Life is not a long, straight path — the untrodden portion clearly visible — it is a winding and undulating lane. “Come on,” Life seems to say, showing us just one little bit of the track, “you can manage this — and now this — and now this again!” And those who can be persuaded to concentrate their flagging energies on each stretch as it unfolds itself find themselves standing at last, with glowing hearts and flushed faces, on the lonely and little trodden summit.

Frank W. Boreham (1871-1959) Anglo-Australian preacher
The Drums of Dawn, Part 2, ch. 5 “The White Giants” (1933)
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Added on 29-Jun-21 | Last updated 29-Jun-21
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Blowing a gale all day. Nothing to do and we did it.

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) British writer and physician
Journal of Arctic voyage (19 Jul 1880)
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Added on 4-Jun-21 | Last updated 4-Jun-21
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Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns …
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.
Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,
many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,
fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.

[Ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ
πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσε·
πολλῶν δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
πολλὰ δ’ ὅ γ’ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμόν,
ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 1, l. 1ff (c. 700 BC) [tr. Fagles (1996)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

The man, O Muse, inform, that many a way
Wound with his wisdom to his wished stay;
That wander’d wondrous far, when he the town
Of sacred Troy had sack’d and shiver’d down;
The cities of a world of nations,
With all their manners, minds, and fashions,
He saw and knew; at sea felt many woes,
Much care sustain’d, to save from overthrows
Himself and friends in their retreat for home;
But so their fates he could not overcome.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Tell me, O Muse, th’ adventures of the man
That having sack’d the sacred town of Troy,
Wander’d so long at sea; what course he ran
By winds and tempests driven from his way:
That saw the cities, and the fashions knew
Of many men, but suffer’d grievous pain
To save his own life, and bring home his crew.
[tr. Hobbes (1675)]

The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd,
Long exercised in woes, O Muse! resound;
Who, when his arms had wrought the destined fall
Of sacred Troy, and razed her heaven-built wall,
Wandering from clime to clime, observant stray'd,
Their manners noted, and their states survey'd,
On stormy seas unnumber'd toils he bore,
Safe with his friends to gain his natal shore.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

Muse make the man thy theme, for shrewdness famed
And genius versatile, who far and wide
A Wand’rer, after Ilium overthrown,
Discover’d various cities, and the mind
And manners learn’d of men, in lands remote.
He num’rous woes on Ocean toss’d, endured,
Anxious to save himself, and to conduct
His followers to their home.
[tr. Cowper (1792)]

Tell me, oh Muse, of the many-sided man,
Who wandered far and wide full sore bestead,
When had razed the mighty town of Troy:
And of many a race of human-kind he saw
The cities; and he learned their mind and ways:
And on the deep fully many a woe he bore
In his own bosom, while he strove to save
His proper life, and his comrades' home-return.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Tell me, Muse, of that man, so ready at need, who wandered far and wide, after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy, and many were the men whose towns he saw and whose mind he learnt, yea, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the deep, striving to win his own life and the return of his company. Nay, but even so he saved not his company, though he desired it sore.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

Tell me, O Muse, of the Shifty, the man who wandered afar,
After the Holy burg, Troy-town, he had wasted with war:
He saw the towns of menfolk, and the mind of men did he learn;
As he warded his life in the world, and his fellow-farers' return,
Many a grief of heart on the deep-sea flood he bore,
Nor yet might he save his fellows, for all that he longed for it sore.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Speak to me, Muse, of the adventurous man who wandered long after he sacked the sacred citadel of Troy. Many the men whose towns he saw, whose ways he proved; and many a pang he bore in his breast at sea while struggling for his life and his men's safe return.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Tell me, oh Muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Tell me, O Muse, of that many-sided hero who traveled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the people with whose customs and thinking he was acquainted; many things he suffered at sea while seeking to save his own life and to achieve the safe homecoming of his companions.
[tr. Butler (1898), rev. Power/Nagy]

That man, tell me O Muse the song of that man, that versatile man, who in very many ways veered from his path and wandered off far and wide, after he had destroyed the sacred citadel of Troy. Many different cities of many different people did he see, getting to know different ways of thinking. Many were the pains he suffered in his heart while crossing the sea struggling to merit the saving of his own life and his own homecoming as well as the homecoming of his comrades.
[tr. Butler (1898), rev. Kim/McCray/Nagy/Power (2018)]

Tell me, O Muse, of the man of many devices, who wandered full many ways after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy. Many were the men whose cities he saw and whose mind he learned, aye, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the sea, seeking to win his own life and the return of his comrades.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

O Divine Poesy,
Goddess-daughter of Zeus,
Sustain for me
This song of the various-minded man,
Who after he had plundered
The innermost citadel of hallowed Troy
Was made to stray grievously
About the coasts of men,
The sport of their customs good or bad,
While his heart
Through all the seafaring
Ached in an agony to redeem himself
And bring his company safe home.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wandering, harried for years on end after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.
He saw the townlands
and learned the minds of many distant men,
and weathered many bitter nights and days
in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven
far journeys after he had sacked Troy's sacred citadel.
Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of,
many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea,
struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

Muse, tell me of the man of many wiles,
the man who wandered many paths of exile
after he sacked Troy's sacred citadel.
He saw the cities -- mapped the minds -- of many;
and on the sea, his spirit suffered every
adversity -- to keep his life intact;
to bring his comrades back.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

Speak, Memory -- Of the cunning hero,
The wanderer, blown off course time and again
After he plundered Troy's sacred heights. Speak
Of all the cities he saw , the minds he grasped,
The suffering deep in his heart at sea
As he struggled to survive and bring his men home.
[tr. Lombardo (2000)]

Tell me, Muse, of the man of many turns, who was driven
far and wide after he had sacked the sacred city of Troy.
Many were the men whose cities he saw, and learnt their minds,
many the sufferings on the open sea he endured in his heart,
struggling for his own life and his companions' homecoming.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

Tell me about a complicated man.
Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost
when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy,
and where he went, and who he met, the pain
he suffered in the storms at sea, and how
he worked to save his life and bring his men
back home.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

Added on 31-Mar-21 | Last updated 14-Apr-21
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Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
A Hat Full of Sky (2004)
Added on 9-Feb-21 | Last updated 9-Feb-21
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In relation to his public, the artist of to-day […] walks at first with his companions, till one day he falls through a hole in the brambles, and from that moment is following the dark rapids of an underground river which may sometimes flow so near the surface that the laughing picnic parties are heard above, only to re-immerse itself in the solitude of the limestone and carry him along its winding tunnel, until it gushes out through the misty creeper-hung cave which he has always believed to exist, and sets him back in the sun.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
“Writers and Society, 1940-3” (1943), The Condemned Playground (1946)
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Added on 17-Jul-20 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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Any experience deeply felt makes some men better and some men worse. When it has ended, they share nothing but the recollection of a commitment in which each was tested and to some degree found wanting. They were not alike when they began, and they were not alike when they finished. […] The consequences of the journey change the voyager so much more than the embarking or the arrival.

Murray Kempton (1917-1997) American journalist.
Part of Our Time: Some Ruins & Monuments of the Thirties, “A Prelude” (1955)
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Added on 5-Jun-20 | Last updated 5-Jun-20
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How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city? How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading somebody else’s life?

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) French-American religious and writer [a.k.a. Fr. M. Louis]
New Seeds of Contemplation, ch. 14 “Integrity” (1962)
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Added on 26-Oct-18 | Last updated 26-Oct-18
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You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into — the Twilight Zone.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Twilight Zone, Introduction, Seasons 4-5 (1963-1964)
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Added on 12-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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Uneventful. Boring. Tedious. All good adjectives to apply to long-haul travel; much better than exciting, unexpected, and abrupt.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Added on 21-Mar-17 | Last updated 21-Mar-17
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“Is the Master out of his mind?” she asked me.

I nodded.

“And he’s taking you with him?”

I nodded again.

“Where?” she asked.

I pointed towards the centre of the earth.

“Into the cellar?” exclaimed the old servant.

“No,” I said, “farther down than that.”

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)
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Added on 5-Aug-16 | Last updated 5-Aug-16
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I have said time and again there is no place on this earth to which I would not travel, there is no chore I would not undertake if I had any faintest hope that, by so doing, I would promote the general cause of world peace.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News Conference (23 Mar 1955)
Added on 9-Feb-16 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 1 “A Long-expected Party” (1954)
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Added on 3-Sep-15 | Last updated 3-Sep-15
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The road reaches every place, the short cut only one.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 1 (2001)
Added on 14-Aug-15 | Last updated 14-Aug-15
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He who is outside the door has already a good part of his journey behind him.

Other Authors and Sources
Dutch proverb
Added on 12-Jan-15 | Last updated 12-Jan-15
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The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that costs.

Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond, Marquise du Deffand (1697-1780) French hostess and patron of the arts [Madame du Deffand].
Letter to Horace Walpole (6 Jun 1767)
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A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

John A. Shedd (contemp.) American writer
Salt from My Attic (1928)

    Variants:
  • "Ships in harbor are safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
  • "A ship in port is safe. But that’s not what ships were built for." (used by Grace Hopper)
  • "A ship is always safe at shore, but that is not what it is built for." (frequently misattributed to Albert Einstein)
More information on this quotation here. Sometimes (mis)attributed to William Greenough Thayer Shedd.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-May-18
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