Quotations about   possession

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What do you suppose makes all men look back to the time of childhood with so much regret (if their childhood has been, in any moderate degree, healthy or peaceful)? That rich charm, which the least possession had for us, was in consequence of the poorness of our treasures. That miraculous aspect of the nature around us, was because we had seen little, and knew less. Each increased possession loads us with a new weariness; every piece of new knowledge diminishes the faculty of admiration; and Death is at last appointed to take us from a scene in which, if we were to stay longer, no gift could satisfy us, and no miracle surprise.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Eagle’s Nest, Lecture 5 “The Power of Contentment in Science and Art,” Sec. 82 (22 Feb 1872)
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Added on 15-Feb-18 | Last updated 15-Feb-18
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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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It is not merely that the ownership of any substantial share in the national wealth is concentrated to-day in the hands of a few hundred thousand families, and that at the end of an age which began with an affirmation of the rights of property, proprietary rights are, in fact, far from being widely distributed. Nor is it merely that what makes property insecure to-day is not the arbitrary taxation of unconstitutional monarchies or the privileges of an idle noblesse, but the insatiable expansion and aggregation of property itself, which menaces with absorption all property less than the greatest, the small master, the little shopkeeper, the country bank, and has turned the mass of mankind into a proletariat working under the agents and for the profit of those who own.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 5 “Property and Creative Work” (1920)
Added on 23-Feb-17 | Last updated 23-Feb-17
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In the end, a life of prayer is a life with open hands where we are not ashamed of our weakness but realize that it is more perfect for us to be led by the Other than to try to hold everything in our own hands.

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) Dutch Catholic priest and writer
With Open Hands (1972)
Added on 29-Apr-16 | Last updated 29-Apr-16
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In private life, no motive of action is at present so powerful and so persistent as acquisitiveness, which, unlike most other desires, knows no satiety.

Inge - acquisitiveness - wist_info quote

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Patriotism,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1915)
Added on 21-Dec-15 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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Songwriting is about getting the demon out of me. It’s like being possessed. You try to go to sleep, but the song won’t let you. So you have to get up and make it into something, and then you’re allowed to sleep. It’s always in the middle of the bloody night, or when you’re half-awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off. So letting go is what the whole game is.

John Lennon (1940-1980) English rock musician, singer, songwriter
Interview, Playboy (Sep 1980)
Added on 24-Mar-15 | Last updated 24-Mar-15
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Better one byrde in hand than ten in the wood.

John Heywood (1497?-1580?) English playwright and epigrammist
Proverbs, Part 1, ch. 2 (1546)
Added on 16-Feb-15 | Last updated 16-Feb-15
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Whatever you can lose, reckon of no account.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 191 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
Added on 25-Jul-11 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
(Attributed)

Attr. by Aulus Gellius in Noctes Atticae, bk. 12, ch. 2, sct. 13 (2nd cent. A.D.).
Added on 11-Jul-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-17
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TECMESSA: Ignorant men
Don’t know what good they hold in their hands until
They’ve flung it away.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Ajax, l. 964 [tr. Moore (1959)]

Alt trans.:
  • “Men of perverse opinion do not know / The excellence of what is in their hands, / Till some one dash it from them.” [George Young (1888)]
  • "Men of ill judgement oft ignore the good / That lies within their hands, till they have lost it."
  • "For those who are base in judgement do not know the good they hold in their hands until they cast it off."
Added on 2-Jun-08 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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Those two fatal words, Mine and Thine.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) Spanish novelist
Don Quixote, Part 1, Book 2, ch. 11 (1605) [tr. Motteux & Ozell (1743)]
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Alt trans.:
  • "Oh happy age, which our first parents called the age of gold! not because gold, so much adored in this iron-age, was then easily purchased, but because those two fatal words, mine and thine, were distinctions unknown to the people of those fortunate times." [Full version of the above]
  • "Happy the age, happy the time, to which the ancients gave the name of golden, not because in that fortunate age the gold so coveted in this our iron one was gained without toil, but because they that lived in it knew not the two words 'mine' and 'thine'!" [tr. Ormsby (1885)]
  • "Happy age, and happy days were those, to which the ancients gave the name of golden; not, that gold, which in these our iron-times, is so much esteemed, was to be acquired without trouble, in that fortunate period; but, because people then, were ignorant of those two words MINE and THINE." [tr. Smollett (1976), as Part 1, Book 1, ch. 3]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Jun-15
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