Quotations about   light

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To me are bedroom joys revealed,
Enjoy at will, my lips are sealed.

[Dulcis conscia lectuli lucerna,
Quidquid vis facias licet, tacebo.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 14, epigram 39 (14.39) “A Bedside Lamp [Lucerna cubicularis]” [tr. Whigham (1987)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Privy to nocturnal glee;
Nought I say, of all I see.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), "The Chamber-Lamp," Book 11, ep. 17]

I am a night-lamp, privy to the pleasures of the couch; do whatever you please, I shall be silent.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859), "A Night-Lamp"]

I am a lamp, privy to the pleasures of your couch: you may do what you will, I shall be silent.
[tr. Ker (1920), "A Bedroom Lamp"]

A lamp am I, aware of your joy in bed:
Do what you will, not one word will be said.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

I show but do not countenance what you do.
Douse me. The only record is in you.
[tr. Porter (2010), "A Bedside Light"]

 
Added on 22-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night.

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) Lebanese-American poet, writer, painter [Gibran Khalil Gibran]
Sand and Foam (1946)
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Added on 22-Mar-22 | Last updated 22-Mar-22
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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)
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Added on 24-Aug-21 | Last updated 24-Aug-21
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When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it,
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it,
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman (b. 1998) American poet and activist
“The Hill We Climb” (2021)
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Read at the Presidential Inauguration (20 Jan 2021).
 
Added on 1-Apr-21 | Last updated 1-Apr-21
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As stars in the night sky glittering
round the moon’s brilliance blaze in all their glory
when the air falls to a sudden, windless calm …
all the lookout peaks stand out and the jutting cliffs
and the steep ravines and down from the high heavens bursts
the boundless, bright air and all the stars shine clear
and the shepherd’s heart exults.

[Ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ἐν οὐρανῷ ἄστρα φαεινὴν ἀμφὶ σελήνην
φαίνετ’ ἀριπρεπέα, ὅτε τ’ ἔπλετο νήνεμος αἰθήρ·
ἔκ τ’ ἔφανεν πᾶσαι σκοπιαὶ καὶ πρώονες ἄκροι
καὶ νάπαι· οὐρανόθεν δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπεῤῥάγη ἄσπετος αἰθήρ,
πάντα δὲ εἴδεται ἄστρα, γέγηθε δέ τε φρένα ποιμήν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 8, l. 551ff (8.551-555) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 641-47]


Used as a metaphor for the campfires of the Trojan troops before Ilium. Alternate translations:

As when about the silver moon, when air is free from wind,
And stars shine clear, to whose sweet beams, high prospects, and the brows
Of all steep hills and pinnacles, thrust up themselves for shows,
And ev’n the lowly valleys joy to glitter in their sight,
When the unmeasur’d firmament bursts to disclose her light,
And all the signs in heav’n are seen, that glad the shepherd’s heart.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 486ff]

As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night,
O'er heaven's clear azure spreads her sacred light,
When not a breath disturbs the deep serene,
And not a cloud o'ercasts the solemn scene;
Around her throne the vivid planets roll,
And stars unnumbered gild the glowing pole,
O'er the dark trees a yellower verdure shed,
And tip with silver every mountain's head;
Then shine the vales, the rocks in prospect rise,
A flood of glory bursts from all the skies:
The conscious swains, rejoicing in the sight,
Eye the blue vault, and bless the useful light.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

As when around the clear bright moon, the stars
Shine in full splendor, and the winds are hush’d,
The groves, the mountain-tops, the headland-heights
Stand all apparent, not a vapor streaks
The boundless blue, but ether open’d wide
All glitters, and the shepherd’s heart is cheer’d.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 643ff]

As when in heaven the stars appear very conspicuous around the lucid moon, when the æther is wont to be without a breeze, and all the pointed rocks and lofty summits and groves appear, but in heaven the immense æther is disclosed, and all the stars are seen, and the shepherd rejoices in his soul.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

As when in Heav'n, around the glitt'ring moon
The stars shine bright amid the breathless air;
And ev'ry crag and ev'ry jutting peak
Stands boldly forth, and ev'ry forest glade;
Ev'n to the gates of Heav'n is open'd wide
The boundless sky; shines each particular star
Distinct; joy fills the gazing shepherd's heart.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 629-35]

Even as when in heaven the stars about the bright moon shine clear to see, when the air is windless, and all the peaks appear and the tall headlands and glades, and from heaven breaketh open the infinite air, and all stars are seen, and the shepherd’s heart is glad.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

As when the stars shine clear, and the moon is bright -- there is not a breath of air, not a peak nor glade nor jutting headland but it stands out in the ineffable radiance that breaks from the serene of heaven; the stars can all of them be told and the heart of the shepherd is glad.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Even as in heaven about the gleaming moon the stars shine clear, when the air is windless, and forth to view appear all mountain peaks and high headlands and glades, and from heaven breaketh open the infinite air, and all stars are seen, and the shepherd joyeth in his heart.
[tr. Murray (1924)]
As when in heaven principal stars shine out around the moon when the night sky is limpid, with no wind, and all the lookout points, headlands, and mountain clearings are distinctly seen, as though pure space had broken through, downward from heaven, and all the stars are out, and in his heart the shepherd sings.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

 
Added on 11-Nov-20 | Last updated 8-Dec-21
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But also I say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,
when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Poppies,” Blue Iris (2004)
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Added on 31-Mar-20 | Last updated 31-Mar-20
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Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Reaper Man (1991)
 
Added on 31-May-19 | Last updated 31-May-19
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And God said, Let there be light, and there was light; but Eastern Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan (1918-2002) Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, actor
The Bible According to Spike Milligan, “The Creation According to the Trade Unions” (1994)
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Quoted in Spike Milligan's Meaning of Life: A Sort of Autobiography, ch. 1 (2011) [ed. Norma Farnes]
 
Added on 13-Aug-15 | Last updated 13-Aug-15
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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength To Love (1963)


See also this.
 
Added on 20-Apr-12 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)
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Added on 13-Feb-08 | Last updated 9-Nov-20
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I know a number of highly sensitive and intelligent people in my own communion who consider as a heresy my faith that God’s loving concern for his creation will outlast all our willfulness and pride. No matter how many eons it takes, he will not rest until all of creation, including Satan, is reconciled to him, until there is no creature who cannot return his look of love with a joyful response of love […] Some people feel it to be heresy because it appears to deny man his freedom to refuse to love God. But this, it seems to me, denies God his freedom to go on loving us beyond all our willfulness and pride. If the Word of God is the light of the world, and this light cannot be put out, ultimately it will brighten all the dark corners of our hearts and we will be able to see, and seeing, will be given the grace to respond with love — and of our own free will.

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) American writer
The Irrational Season (1977)
 
Added on 19-Sep-07 | Last updated 14-Nov-15
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Where there is much light, the shadows are deepest.

[Wo viel Licht is, ist starker Schatten.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Gotz von Berlichingen, I, 24 (1773)
 
Added on 6-Jul-04 | Last updated 21-May-14
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I made a comparison at table some time since, which has often been quoted, and received many compliments. It was that of the mind of a bigot to the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it contracts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858)
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Often paraphrased, "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract." Frequently misattributed to his son, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-May-20
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So we’re just in this maze for now, trying to figure out if that glint in the distance is daylight, or a Minotaur with an Uzi.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, “ATTN JMS: Warner Bros” (8 Dec 1996)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night:
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends —
It gives a lovely light!

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) American poet
“Figs from Thistles: First Fig” in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (Jun 1918)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Oct-21
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