Quotations about   love

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Love is a great force in private life; it is indeed the greatest of all things: but love in public affairs simply does not work. It has been tried again and again: by the Christian civilisations of the Middle Ages, and also by the French Revolution, a secular movement which reasserted the Brotherhood of Man. And it has always failed. The idea that nations should love one another, or that business concerns or marketing boards should love one another, or that a man in Portugal, say, should love a man in Peru of whom he has never heard—it is absurd, it is unreal, worse, it is dangerous. It leads us into perilous and vague sentimentalism. “Love is what is needed,” we chant, and then sit back and the world goes on as before. The fact is we can only love what we know personally. And we cannot know much. In public affairs, in the rebuilding of civilisation, something much less dramatic and emotional is needed, namely, tolerance.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“The Unsung Virtue of Tolerance,” radio broadcast (Jul 1941)
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Published as "Tolerance," Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
Added on 13-Mar-19 | Last updated 13-Mar-19
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Successful marriage: The union of two good forgivers.

Robert Quillen (1887-1948) American journalist and humorist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Column Review in 1935.
Added on 26-Jan-19 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

Anatole France (1844-1924) French poet, journalist, novelist, Nobel Laureate [pseud. of Jaques-Anatole-François Thibault]
(Attributed)

Widely attributed to France, but unsourced.
Added on 18-Jan-19 | Last updated 18-Jan-19
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But beware you be not swallowed up in books: An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.

John Wesley (1703-1791) English cleric, Christian theologian and evangelist, founder of Methodism
Letter to Joseph Benson (7 Nov 1768)
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Marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness of sins.

Langdon Mitchell (1862-1935) American playwright
The New York Idea (1907)
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Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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I decided that perhaps I would like to think of myself as an extremist — in the light of the spirit which made Jesus an extremist for love. If it sounds as though I am comparing myself to the Savior, let me remind you that all who honor themselves with the claim of being “Christians” should compare themselves to Jesus. Thus I consider myself an extremist for that brotherhood of man which Paul so nobly expressed: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Love is the only force on earth that can be dispensed or received in an extreme manner, without any qualifications, without any harm to the giver or to the receiver.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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For the whole thing about matrimony is this: We fall in love with a personality, but we must live with a character. Behind the pretty wallpaper and the brightly painted plaster lurk the yards of tangled wire and twisted pipes, ready to run a short or spring a leak on us without a word of warning.

Peter De Vries (1910-1993) American editor, novelist, satirist
Mrs. Wallop (1970)
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Often misquoted as "The difficulty with marriage is that ..."
Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) Catalan-Cuban-French author, diarist
The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4, 1944–47, Feb. 1947 (1971)
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Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 25-May-18
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As it has been said:
Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love.

Anne Sexton (1928-1974) American poet
“Small Wire”
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Added on 12-Apr-18 | Last updated 12-Apr-18
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To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver (b. 1935) American poet
“In Blackwater Woods”
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Added on 9-Apr-18 | Last updated 9-Apr-18
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Love looks forward, hate looks back, anxiety has eyes all over its head.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook (1963)
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Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte (b. 1955) Irish-English poet
“Sweet Darkness,” House of Belonging (1996)
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Added on 20-Mar-18 | Last updated 20-Mar-18
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Marriage is not a simple love affair, it’s an ordeal, and the ordeal is the sacrifice of ego to a relationship in which two have become one.

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) American mythological scholar
The Power of Myth, ch. 1 “Myth and the Modern World” (1988)
Added on 7-Mar-18 | Last updated 7-Mar-18
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Sorrow is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Riding Shotgun, ch. 17 (1996)
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Added on 26-Feb-18 | Last updated 26-Feb-18
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The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Opening Speech, Gay Olympics, San Francisco (28 Aug 1982)
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When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Moses, Man of the Mountain, ch. 6 [Mentu] (1939)
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Added on 13-Dec-17 | Last updated 13-Dec-17
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The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
Tremendous Trifles, “The Advantages of Having One Leg” (1909)
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Added on 12-Dec-17 | Last updated 12-Dec-17
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I think our heart-strings were, like warp and woof
In some firm fabric, woven in and out;
Your golden filaments in fair design
Across my duller fibre.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) American poet
“Interim”
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Added on 10-Nov-17 | Last updated 10-Nov-17
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MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
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Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 1-Nov-17
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Love would put a new face on this weary old world in which we dwell as pagans and enemies too long.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Man the Reformer,” lecture, Boston (25 Jan 1841)
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Added on 24-Oct-17 | Last updated 24-Oct-17
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But though that first love’s impassioned blindness
Has passed away in colder light,
I still have thought of you with kindness,
And shall do, till our last goodnight.
The ever-rolling silent hours
Will bring a time we shall not know,
When our young days of gathering flowers
Will be an hundred years ago.

Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866) English novelist, satirist, poet, merchant
“Love and Age,” From Gryll Grange (1860)
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Added on 19-Oct-17 | Last updated 19-Oct-17
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Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) French-American religious and writer [a.k.a. Fr. M. Louis]
Disputed Questions, “The Power and Meaning of Love” (1953)
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Added on 18-Oct-17 | Last updated 18-Oct-17
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Fond as we are of our loved ones, there comes at times during their absence an unexplained peace.

Other Authors and Sources
Anne Shaw, But Such Is Life (1931)
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Better to love amiss than nothing to have loved.

George Crabbe (1754-1832) English poet, writer, surgeon, clergyman
Tales in Verse, Tale 14 “The Struggles of Conscience” (1812)

See Tennyson (1849).
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Love, I find is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Dust Tracks on a Road, ch. 14 “Love” (1942)
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Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life, and is prophetic of eternal good.

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) Italian scholar and poet [a.k.a. Petrarch]
(Attributed)
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Quoted in In Henry T. Tuckerman, "Petrarch," The American Whig Review (May 1845). The first word is sometimes quoted as "charity".
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The longest absence is less perilous to love than the terrible trials of incessant proximity.

Ouida (1839-1908) English novelist [pseud. of Maria Louise Ramé]
Friendship, ch. 11 (1878)
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Absence and a friendly neighbor washes away love.

Other Authors and Sources
English proverb
Added on 29-Aug-17 | Last updated 29-Aug-17
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Somehow he has internalized the ur-cultural narrative: you grow up, go to university, get a job, meet Ms. Right, get married, settle down, have kids, grow old together … it’s like some sort of checklist. Or maybe a list of epic quests you’ve got to complete while level-grinding in a game you’re not allowed to quit, with no respawns and no cheat codes.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks, ch. 9 (2016)
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To our most bitter opponents we say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (25 Dec 1957)
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Ah, Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits — and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer
Rubáiyát, 99 [tr. FitzGerald]
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Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler #23 (23 Sep 1758)
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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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Night makes no difference ‘twixt Priest and Clerk;
Joan as my Lady’s as good i’ th’ dark.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) English poet
“No Difference i’ th’ Dark,” The Hesperides, #866 (1648)
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Added on 27-Jul-17 | Last updated 27-Jul-17
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Absence, that common cure of love.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) Spanish novelist
Don Quixote, Part 1, Book 3, ch. 10 (1605) [tr. Motteux (1701)]
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Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (17 Nov 1957)
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“The best moments in my life,” I said, “have come because I loved somebody.”

“Yeah,” he said.

“And the worst,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
The Professional, ch. 8 (2009)
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In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (17 Nov 1957)
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Added on 30-Jun-17 | Last updated 30-Jun-17
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The heart may think it knows better: the senses know that absence blots people out.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish author
The Death of the Heart (1938)
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Loving-kindness is greater than laws; and the charities of life are more than all ceremonies.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
(Unreferenced)
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I love people. I love my family, my children … but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) American writer
Interview, New York Post (26 Apr 1959)

Often paraphrased, "Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up."
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When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among: —
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
“Water Babies,” Song 2, st. 2 (1863)
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If you wish to be like a little child, study what a little child could understand — nature; and do what a little child could do — love.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
Notes (Aug 1842) in Frances Eliza Grenfell Kingsley, Charles Kingsley: His Letters and Memories of His Life (1883)
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Make love not war.

Gershon Legman (1917-1999) American writer
Speech, Ohio University (Nov 1963)

The coining of the phrase was attested in correspondence between Fred R. Shapiro, The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), and Legman's widow, Judith Legman.
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The moral of it is, that if we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for THEIR sakes rather than OUR OWN; we must look at their truth to THEMSELVES, full as much as their truth to US. In the latter case, every wound to self-love would be a cause of coldness; in the former, only some painful change in the friend’s character and disposition — some frightful breach in his allegiance to his better self — could alienate the heart.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Letter to W S. Williams (21 Jul 1851)
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We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: “Love your enemies , bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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The Owl looked up to the Stars above
And sang to a small guitar,
“Oh lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are.”

lear-owl-beautiful-pussy-you-are-wist_info-quote

Edward Lear (1812-1888) English artist, musician, author, poet
“The Owl and the Pussy-Cat,” l. 5 (1871)
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But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, “Christian Marriage” (1952)
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If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married’’, then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships?

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, “Christian Marriage” (1952)
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Lady Linette had warned them of this. “Try not to think it glamorous, ladies. Intelligencer work is nine-tenths discontented ennui, and one-tenth abject terror. Rather like falling in love.”

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Waistcoats & Weaponry (2014)
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Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God — though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to ‘put on Christ’, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Problem of Pain, ch. 3 “The Intolerable Compliment” (1940)
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Take me or leave me; or, as in the usual order of things, both.

parker-take-me-or-leave-me-wist_info-quote

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
New Yorker (4 Feb 1928)
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Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
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You bid me burn your letters. But I must forget you first.

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John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Abigail Adams (28 Apr 1776)
Added on 4-Oct-16 | Last updated 4-Oct-16
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What we call ‘being in love’ is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it sub-ordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust. No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness.

But, as I said before, ‘the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs’. Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, Book 3, ch. 6 “Christian Marriage” (1952)
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