Quotations about   sailing

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To heav’n aloft on ridgy waves we ride,
Then down to hell descend, when they divide.

[Tollimur in caelum curvato gurgite, et idem
subducta ad Manis imos desedimus unda.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 3, l. 564ff (3.564-565) [Aeneus] (29-19 BC) [tr. Dryden (1697)]
    (Source)

As the ship passes Charybdis. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

We mount up to heaven on the arched gulf, and down again we settle to the shades below, the wave having retired.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Now to the sky mounts up the ship,
Now to the very shades we dip.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

The curving wave one moment lifts us up
Skyward, then sinks us down as in the shades
Of death.
[tr. Cranch (1872)]

We are lifted skyward on the crescent wave, and again sunk deep into the nether world as the water is sucked away.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Upheaved upon the tossing whirl we fare unto the sky,
Then down unto the nether Gods we sink upon the wave.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Now curls the wave, and lifts us to the sky,
Now sinks and, plunging in the gulf we lie.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 72, ll. 643-44]

We shot to skyward on the arching surge,
then, as she sank, dropped deeper than the grave.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

We mount up to heaven on the arched billow and again, with the receding wave, sink down to the depths of hell.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

One moment
We were in the clouds , the next in the gulf of Hell.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

We were tossed up high on an arching surge, then down we went
In the trough as the wave fell away, down to the very Pit.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

We rise to heaven on the bending wave
and, as the surge slips back, we sink again
down to the deepest Shades.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 734ff]

On every rolling sea
We rose to heaven, and in the abysmal trough
Sank down into the world of shades.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 749ff]

A great arching wave came and lifted us to the sky and a moment later as the wave was sucked down we plunged into the abyss of hell.
[tr. West (1990)]

Up to the sky an immense billow hoists us, then at once,
as the wave sank down, down we plunge to the pit of hell.
[tr. Fagles (2006), ll. 658-59]

A curved wave thrust us to the sky, then sank. As we fell, we plunged down to the depths of Hades.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

Added on 11-May-22 | Last updated 11-May-22
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More quotes by Virgil

I think we’d like life to be a train. And you get on and pick a destination and get off. And it turns out to be a sailboat. And everyday, you have to see where the wind is and check the currents and see if there’s anybody else on the boat you can help out. But it is a sailboat ride. And the weather changes, and the currents change, and the wind changes. It’s not a train ride. That’s the hardest thing I’ve had to accept in my life. I just thought I had to pick the right train.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Super Soul Sunday, s. 5, ep. 522, “Why Life Is Like a Sailboat Ride,” Oprah Winfrey Network (9 Nov 2014)
    (Source)

Starts at 0:48 in the source video. Usually just rendered down as "I think we'd like life to be a train ... but it turns out to be a sailboat."
Added on 3-Sep-21 | Last updated 3-Sep-21
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More quotes by Taylor, Barbara Brown

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)
    (Source)
Added on 9-Jul-21 | Last updated 9-Jul-21
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Many wonders, many terrors,
But none more wonderful than the human race
Or more dangerous.
This creature travels on a winter gale
Across the silver sea,
Shadowed by high-surging waves,
While on Earth, grandest of the gods,
He grinds the deathless, tireless land away,
Turning and turning the plow
From year to year, behind driven horses.

[πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει.
τοῦτο καὶ πολιοῦ πέραν πόντου χειμερίῳ νότῳ
χωρεῖ, περιβρυχίοισιν
περῶν ὑπ᾽ οἴδμασιν.
θεῶν τε τὰν ὑπερτάταν, Γᾶν
ἄφθιτον, ἀκαμάταν, ἀποτρύεται
ἰλλομένων ἀρότρων ἔτος εἰς ἔτος
ἱππείῳ γένει πολεύων.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 332ff, Stasimon 1, Strophe 1 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Many the things that mighty be,
And nought is more might than -- MAN.
For he can cross the foaming ocean,
What time the stormy South is blowing,
Steering amid the mantling waves that roar around him.
And for his uses he wearieth
Earth, the highest Deity,
The immortal, the untiring one,
As year by year the ploughs are drawn
Up and down the furrow'd field,
To and fro his harness'd teams --
The seed of horses -- driving.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Many wonders there be, but naught more wondrous than man;
Over the surging sea, with a whitening south wind wan,
Through the foam of the firth, man makes his perilous way;
And the eldest of deities Earth that knows not toil nor decay
Ever he furrows and scores, as his team, year in year out,
With breed of the yoked horse, the ploughshare turneth about.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Many a wonder lives and moves, but the wonder of all is man,
That courseth over the grey ocean, carried of Southern gale,
Faring amidst high-swelling seas that rudely surge around,
And Earth, supreme of mighty Gods, eldest, imperishable,
Eternal, he with patient furrow wears and wears away
As year by year the plough-shares turn and turn, --
Subduing her unwearied strength with children of the steed.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man. This power spans the sea, even when it surges white before the gales of the south-wind, and makes a path under swells that threaten to engulf him. Earth, too, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, he wears away to his own ends, turning the soil with the offspring of horses as the plows weave to and fro year after year.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man; the power that crosses the white sea, driven by the stormy south-wind, making a path under surges that threaten to engulf him; and Earth, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, doth he wear, turning the soil with the offspring of horses,as the ploughs go to and fro from year to year.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Numberless are the world’s wonders, but none
More wonderful than man; the stormgray sea
Yields to his prows, the huge crests bear him high;
Earth, holy and inexhaustible, is graven
With shining furrows where his plows have gone
Year after year, the timeless labor of stallions.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

Wonders are many on earth, and the greatest of these
Is man, who rides the ocean and takes his way
Through the deeps, though wide-swept valleys of perilous seas
That surge and sway.
He is master of ageless Earth, to his own will bending
The immortal mother of gods by the sweat of his brow,
As year succeeds to year, with toil unending
Of mule and plough.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 279ff]

Many the wonders, but nothing walks stranger than man.
This thing crosses the sea in the winter's storm,
making his path through the roaring waves.
And she, the greatest of gods, the earth --
ageless she is, and unwearied -- he wars her away
as the ploughts go up and down from year to year
and his mules turn up the soil.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Wonders are many, yet of all
Things is Man the most wonderful.
He can sail on the stormy sea
Through tempest rage, and the loud
Waves roar around, as he makes his
Path amid the towering surge.
Earth inexhaustible, ageless, he wearies, as
Backwards and forwards, from season to season, his
Ox-team drives along the ploughshare.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Numberless wonders
terrible wonders walk the world but none the match for man --
that great wonder crossing the heaving gray sea,
driven on by the blasts of winter
on through breakers crashing left and right,
holds his steady course
and the oldest of the gods he wears away --
the Earth, the immortal, the inexhaustible --
as his plows go back and forth, year in, year out
with the breed of stallions turning up the furrows.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 376ff]

Many things cause terror and wonder, yet nothing
is more terrifying and wonderful than man.
This thing goes across the gray
sea on the blasts of winter
storms, passing beneath
waters towering ’round him. The Earth,
eldest of the gods,
unwithering and untiring, this thing wears down
as his plows go back and forth year after year
furrowing her with the issue of horses.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

Wonders abound in this world yet no wonder is greater than man. None!
Through the wild white of a frenzied sea and through the screaming northerlies beneath him and through all the furious storms around him, through all this, man can pass!
And Gods’ most glorious Earth, the imperishable, untiring Earth, this man works with his horses and ploughs, year in, year out.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

There are many strange and wonderful things,
but nothing more strangely wonderful than man.
He moves across the white-capped ocean seas
blasted by winter storms, carving his way
under the surging waves engulfing him.
With his teams of horses he wears down
the unwearied and immortal earth,
the oldest of the gods, harassing her,
as year by year his ploughs move back and forth.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 388ff]

This world has many wonders, but nothing is more wondrous than humanity. It crosses even the grey sea with a stormy south wind, passing under churning waves in open water; and the oldest of the gods, immortal, inexhaustible Earth, it wears away. With ploughs it winds back and forth, year after year, turning up the soil with the offspring of horses.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

There are many wonders and none
is more surprising than humanity.
This thing that crosses the sea
as it whorls under a stormy wind
finding a path on enveloping waves.
It wears down imperishable Earth, too,
the oldest of the gods, a tireless deity,
as the plows trace lives from year to year
drawn by the race of horses.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

Added on 22-Apr-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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More quotes by Sophocles

One will weave the canvas; another will fell a tree by the light of his ax. Yet another will forge nails, and there will be others who observe the stars to learn how to navigate. And yet all will be as one. Building a boat isn’t about weaving canvas, forging nails, or reading the sky. It’s about giving a shared taste for the sea, by the light of which you will see nothing contradictory but rather a community of love.

[Celui-là tissera des toiles, l’autre dans la forêt par l’éclair de sa hache couchera l’arbre. L’autre, encore, forgera des clous, et il en sera quelque part qui observeront les étoiles afin d’apprendre à gouverner. Et tous cependant ne seront qu’un. Créer le navire ce n’est point tisser les toiles, forger les clous, lire les astres, mais bien donner le goût de la mer qui est un, et à la lumière duquel il n’est plus rien qui soit contradictoire mais communauté dans l’amour.]

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) French writer, aviator
Citadelle [The Wisdom of the Sands] (1948)

This looks to be the origin of the following, more common quotations attributed to Saint-Exupery:
  • "If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea."
  • "If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
  • "If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men and women to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
  • "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the workers to gather wood, don't divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
More discussion: Teach Them to Yearn for the Vast and Endless Sea – Quote Investigator.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Oct-21
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More quotes by Saint-Exupery, Antoine