Quotations about   patience

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It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
    (Source)

Compare to language he used here.
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You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) American film director, screenwriter, producer
In Newsweek (26 May 1980)
Added on 14-Nov-17 | Last updated 14-Nov-17
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Hasten slowly, and without losing heart,
Put your work twenty times upon the anvil.

[Hâtez-vous lentement ; et, sans perdre courage,
Vingt fois sur le métier remettez votre ouvrage.]

Boileau - twenty times upon the anvil - wist_info quote

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 1, l. 171 (1674)
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A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people’s patience.

John Updike (1932-2009) American writer
“Confessions of a Wild Bore,” Assorted Prose (1965)
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Patience is not very different from courage. It just takes longer.

James Richardson - courage patience

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 54 (2001)
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Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 13 (1759)
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You see, fellow-soldiers, that perseverance is more prevailing than violence, and that many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.

Quintus Sertorius (c. 123-72 BC) Roman statesman and general
In Plutarch, Parallel Lives, “Sertorius,” sec. 16 [Dryden ed. (1693)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "You see, fellow-soldiers, that perseverance is worth more than energy, and that many things that cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little."
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I think perhaps we want a more conscious life. We’re tired of drudging and sleeping and dying. We’re tired of seeing just a few people able to be individualists. We’re tired of always deferring hope till the next generation. We’re tired of hearing politicians and priests and cautious reformers (and the husbands!) coax us, “Be calm! Be patient! Wait! We have the plans for a Utopia already made; just wiser than you.” For ten thousand years they’ve said that. We want our Utopia now — and we’re going to try our hands at it.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Main Street, ch. 16 [Carol] (1920)
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Added on 8-Sep-15 | Last updated 8-Sep-15
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Little by little does the trick.

Aesop (620?-560? BC) Legendary Greek storyteller
“The Crow and the Pitcher,” Fables [tr. Jacobs (1894)]
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Whoever knocks persistently, ends by entering.

'Ali ibn Abi-Talib (602-661) Fourth Caliph
Maxims of ‘Ali [tr. Akbar]
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Rome was not built in a day.

John Clarke (d. 1658) British educator
Proverbs: English and Latine (1639)
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Dripping water hollows a stone.

Lucretius (c. 100-c. 55 BC) Roman poet [Titus Luretius Carus]
De Rerum Natura [On the Nature of Things], 1.313 [tr. Latham (1951)]
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If you don’t know what to do, sit still and listen. You may hear something.

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) American poet, biographer
Incidentals (1900)
Added on 22-Jun-15 | Last updated 22-Jun-15
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Happiness is where we find it, but very rarely where we seek it.

Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn (1792-1870) French-Swiss poet
(Attributed)
Added on 18-Jun-15 | Last updated 18-Jun-15
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We have borne patiently a great deal of wrong, on the consideration that if nations go to war for every degree of injury, there would never be peace on earth. But when patience has begotten false estimates of its motives, when wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Mme de Stael (1807) [ME 11:282]
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I’ll not willingly offend,
Nor be easily offended;
What’s amiss I’ll strive to mend,
And endure what can’t be mended.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) English theologian and hymnodist
Poems, “Moral Songs: #6 Good Resolutions”
    (Source)

In Samuel Johnson, Works of English Poets, vol. 46 (1779)
Added on 17-Mar-15 | Last updated 17-Mar-15
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I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy holiday, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

H. Jackson "Jack" Brown, Jr. (b. 1940) American writer
Live and Learn and Pass It On (1991)

Attributed by Brown to a 52-year old person. Often misattributed (with the phrase "rainy day") to Maya Angelou. For more see here.
Added on 26-Dec-14 | Last updated 26-Dec-14
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Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.

Henry Miller (1891-1980) American novelist
The World of Sex (1940)
Added on 10-Nov-14 | Last updated 10-Nov-14
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Man’s greatest strength is shown in standing still.

Edward Young (1683-1765) English poet
The Complaint, 8.912 (1742-45)
Added on 28-Oct-14 | Last updated 28-Oct-14
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My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Lord Malquist and Mr Moon, ch. 2 “A Couple of Deaths and Exits” (1966)
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The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.

[Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo.]

Other Authors and Sources
Latin proverb

Alt. trans.:
  • "The rain dints the hard stone, not by violence, but by oft-falling drops."
  • "The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling."
  • "The drop hollows out the stone not by strength, but by constant falling."
  • "The drop hollows the stone, not with force but by falling often."
  • "Dripping water hollows out the stone not by force, but by continually falling."

Some famous usages include Lucretius, De rerum natura, Book 6, l. 312: "The ring on the finger is tapered by being worn, the dripping water hollows out the stone, the plow is subtly worn by the impact of the fields." [anulus in digito subter tenuatur habendo, stilicidi casus lapidem cavat, uncus aratri, ferreus occulte decrescit vomer in arvis]

Similarly Ovid, Ex Ponte, 4.10.5: "The drop hollows out the stone, the ring is worn by use, and the curved ploughshare is rubbed away by the pressure of the earth." [Gutta cavat lapidem, consumitur annulus usu, et teritur pressa vomer aduncus humo.]

Made famous in English by Hugh Latimer, "Seventh Sermon before Edward VI" (1549). Similarly, John Lyly, Euphues (1580): "The soft droppes of rain perce the hard marble; many strokes overthrow the tallest oaks."

Added on 28-Jul-14 | Last updated 28-Jul-14
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Keep strong, if possible. In any case, keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent, and always assist him to save face. Put yourself in his shoes — so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil — nothing is so self-blinding.

B. H. Liddell Hart (1895-1970) English soldier, military historian (Basil Henry Liddell Hart)
Deterrent or Defense (1960)

Advice to statesmen.
Added on 25-Jun-14 | Last updated 25-Jun-14
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Patience is the cure for every sorrow.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 170 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
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A Physician is not angry at the Intemperance of a mad Patient; nor does he take it ill to be railed at by a Man in a Fever: Just so should a wise Man treat all Mankind, as a Physician does his Patient; and looking upon them only as sick, and extravagant.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “Of Anger [De ira]
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Added on 31-Jan-14 | Last updated 31-Jan-14
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The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.

Clara Lucas Balfour (1808-1878) English novelist, lecturer, temperance campaigner
Sunbeams for All Seasons: Counsels, Cautions, and Precepts (1861 ed.)
Added on 29-May-13 | Last updated 8-Jul-16
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Bear with the faults and frailties of others, for you, too, have many faults which others have to bear. If you cannot mold yourself as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking? For we require other people to be perfect, but do not correct our own faults.

Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German monk, author
The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, ch. 16 (c. 1418) [tr. L. Sherley-Price (1952)]
    (Source)

Alt trans.: "Try to bear patiently with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be, because you also have many a fault which others must endure. If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing."

Alt trans.: "Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."
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The idea is like the seed corn; it grows imperceptibly in secret. When I have invented or discovered the beginning of a song …, I shut up the book and go for a walk or take up something else; I think no more of it for perhaps half a year. Nothing is lost, though. When I come back to it again, it has unconsciously taken a new shape, and is ready for me to begin working at it.

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) German composer and pianist
Conversation with George Henschel
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Quoted in a letter to Herr and Frau von Herzogenberg in Max Kalbeck, ed., the Brahms-Gesellschaft collection of correspondence, Vol. 2 [tr. Bryant (1909)], as cited in John Alexander Fuller-Maitland, Brahms, ch. 3 (1911).
Added on 1-Jul-09 | Last updated 29-May-14
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By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 39, epigraph (1897)
Added on 27-May-08 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 30-Nov-07 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
Atlantic Monthly (May 1890)
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LEONATO: For there was never a philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 35 (1598)
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