Quotations about:
    triumph


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Even so, one step from my grave,
I believe that cruelty, spite,
The powers of darkness will in time
Be crushed by the spirit of light.

[Но и так, почти у гроба,
Верю я, придет пора —
Силу подлости и злобы
Одолеет дух добра.]

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
“Nobel Prize [Нобелевская Премия]” st. 4 (1959) [tr. Stallworthy/France (1982)]
    (Source)

On his persecution for winning the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature for Doctor Zhivago, which had been condemned by the Communist Party and the Soviet government. The poem was not published until Selected Poems (1983).

This upbeat ending is how the poem officially ends. Two more, darker, stanzas were attached to the manuscript by Pasternak, but it is unclear if they were meant to be added (and, if so, where), or if Pasternak ever wanted the poem published.

(Source (Russian)). Alternate translations:

Even now, at the edge of the tomb,
I believe in the virtuous fate, --
And the spirit of goodness will soon
overcome all the malice and hate.
[tr. Kneller]

But even as my grave awaits,
the time will come. I've believed --
The forces of meanness and hate
will be vanquished by the spirit of good.
[tr. Mager]

Yet, as I approach my passing,
I believe the day is near,
When the heart of good surpasses
rage and baseness -- even here.
[tr. Moreton]

Even in my dying hour
I believe it still stronger:
Malice will be overpowered
By the spirit of Good Will.
[tr. Astrakhan]

 
Added on 2-Jul-24 | Last updated 2-Jul-24
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What prayer should we call wise?
What gift of Heaven should man
Count a more noble prize,
A prayer more prudent, than
To stretch a conquering arm
Over the fallen crest
Of those who wished us harm?
And what is noble every heart loves best.

[τί τὸ σοφόν; ἢ τί τὸ κάλλιον
παρὰ θεῶν γέρας ἐν βροτοῖς
ἢ χεῖρ᾽ ὑπὲρ κορυφᾶς
880τῶν ἐχθρῶν κρείσσω κατέχειν;
ὅ τι καλὸν φίλον ἀεί.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 877ff, Stasimon 3 (Ode 4), Refrain [Chorus/Χορός] (405 BC) [tr. Vellacott (1973)]
    (Source)

While the passage seems to praise the putting down of one's enemies as the greatest gift of the gods, some modern scholars suggest the final line raises doubts or disagrees with that conclusion.

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

What greater privilege 'midst the fell debate
Can sage or chieftain from the Gods request
Than that of ever fast'ning on the crest
Of the miscreant whom we hate?
Pleasure with unsullied fame
Ever must alliance claim.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

What is wisdom? Or what greater honor do the gods give to mortals than to hold one's hand in strength over the head of enemies? What is good is always dear.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

What is wisest? what is fairest,
Of god's boons to man the rarest?
With the conscious conquering hand
Above the foeman's head to stand.
What is fairest still is dearest.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

What wiser and what nobler gift
Can the good gods bestow on man,
Than when his hands they strengthen, till
He conquers o’er his foeman’s head:
That which is noble, ever is dear.
[tr. Rogers (1872)]

What is true wisdom, or what fairer boon has heaven placed in mortals’ reach, than to gain the mastery o’er a fallen foe? What is fair is dear for aye.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

What wisdom's crown, what guerdon, shines more glorious
That Gods can give the sons of men, than this --
O'er crests of foes to stretch the hand victorious?
Honour is precious evermore, I wis.
[tr. Way (1898)]

What else is Wisdom? What of man's endeavour
Or God's high grace, so lovely and so great?
To stand from fear set free, to breathe and wait;
To hold a hand uplifted over Hate;
And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever?
[tr. Murray (1902)]

What is wisdom? What gift of the gods
is held in honor like this:
to hold your hand victorious
over the heads of those you hate?
Honor is precious forever.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

What is wisdom? Or what fairer
gift from the gods in men's eyes
than to hold the hand of power
over the head of one's enemies?
And "what is fair is always followed."
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

What is wisdom, ah! what fairer thing
to mortal men can the gods bestow
than holding high overhead
a firmer first over the foe?
The fair is dear, and forever.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

What is wisdom? Which
of all the God-given gifts
is more beneficial to man
than the power to hold
an enemy powerless at bay?
That which is good is welcome forever.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

What is wisdom? Or what lovelier gift
From the gods, in moral eyes
Than to hold a stronger hand
Over enemy heads:
Honor is dear -- always.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

What good is mere cleverness?
Or rather, what god-given gifts
bring more honor to mortals
than to hold the hand of mastery
over the head of the enemy?
Whatever is honorable is dear always.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

What is wise? What is the finest gift
that gods can give to mortals?
A hand on the heads
of their enemies, pushing down?
[No.] What is fine is loved always.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

What is wise? What fit from the gods
Do mortals judge more beautiful
Than to hold our outstretched
Strong hand over an enemy's head?
What is beautiful is what is always loved.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000)]

What good is cleverness? Is there any god-given privilege
nobler than the sight of men
than to hold one's hand in triumph
over the heads of foes?
What is noble is always loved.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

What is true wisdom?
What is beauty?
What could be better
Than in your hand to hold
Your enemy's fate?
Beauty is always truth;
And truth beauty.
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

What better, what wiser gift a god could give to men than to hold their hand high above their head as a sign of victory over their enemy?
I always admire the good.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

What is it to be wise? And what gift of the
Immortals is more gracious in humans?
Is it holding your hand over
Your enemies’ head?
What's right is always welcome.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

What is wisdom? What is finer than the rights
men get from gods -- to hold their powerful hands
over the heads of their enemies?
Ah yes, what's good is always loved.
[tr. Johnston (2008), l. 1079ff]

What is wisdom?
The greatest gift of the gods is honour:
to reach your hand in triumph up
over the heads of the enemy.
Honour is everything.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

What is wisdom? Here, now?
What is the highest blessing of gods to mortals?
It is to stretch out your hand
over the head of the one you hate,
the one that hates you,
and know your strength is greater.
Doesn’t that always feel good?
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

What wisdom should guide us? What gift of the gods do people prize more than a strong hand to hold over an enemy's head? Honor is always loved.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

What is wisdom [sophon]? Or what finer prize
do the gods give to mortals than to hold one’s hand
in victory over the head of one’s enemies?
Whatever is beautiful [kalon] is near and dear [philon] forever.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

 
Added on 9-May-23 | Last updated 11-Jul-23
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Conquer, but never triumph.

[Siege, aber triumphire nicht.]

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms [Aphorismen], No. 9 (1880) [tr. Wister (1883)]
    (Source)

(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

Be victorious but not triumphant.
[tr. Scrase/Mieder (1994)]
 
Added on 5-Apr-22 | Last updated 3-Jun-24
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A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
At Seventy: A Journal, “Wednesday, June 23rd” (1973)
    (Source)
 
Added on 5-Oct-21 | Last updated 5-Oct-21
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If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same ….

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“If–” st. 2 (1910)
    (Source)
 
Added on 3-Jul-17 | Last updated 3-Jul-17
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Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“The Poets,” Atlantic Monthly (Jul 1878)
    (Source)
 
Added on 23-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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There is nothing softer and weaker than water.
And yet there is nothing better for attacking hard and strong things.
For this reason there is no substitute for it.
All the world knows that the weak overcomes the strong and the soft overcomes the hard.
But none can practice it.

Lao-tzu (604?-531? BC) Chinese philosopher, poet [also Lao-tse, Laozi]
Tao-te Ching, ch. 78 [tr. Wing-Tsit Chan]
 
Added on 19-Apr-17 | Last updated 19-Apr-17
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The only route to success is hard work. If you didn’t work hard I don’t think it counts as success.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (27 Nov 2012)
    (Source)
 
Added on 14-Jul-16 | Last updated 14-Jul-16
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When ye build yer triumphal arch to yer conquerin’ hero, Hinnisssey, build it out of bricks so the people will have somethin’ convanient to throw at him as he passes through.

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
“Fame”
 
Added on 11-Sep-15 | Last updated 11-Sep-15
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Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British author, screenwriter, fabulist
Coraline (2002)

Paraphrase by Gaiman of G. K. Chesterton. Gaiman included it as an epigraph, attributed to Chesterton, but without looking up the exact wording.
 
Added on 30-Oct-14 | Last updated 30-Oct-14
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Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph.

Roddy Doyle (b. 1958) Irish novelist, dramatist, screenwriter
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
    (Source)
 
Added on 15-May-14 | Last updated 15-May-14
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The baby rises to its feet, takes a step, is overcome with triumph and joy — and falls flat on its face. It is a pattern for all that is to come! But learn from the bewildered baby. Lurch to your feet again. You’ll make the sofa in the end.

Pamela Brown (1924-1989) British writer, actress, television producer
The Swish of the Curtain (1938)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Jul-17
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History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.

Bertie Charles (B. C.) Forbes (1880-1954) American publisher
Forbes, Issue No. 1 (Sep 1917)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Feb-22
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