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Tell us, where slopes the cliff, to make a way
That man may climb? For they who know its worth
Fret most when time is wasted in delay.

[Ditene dove la montagna giace,
sì che possibil sia l’andare in suso;
ché perder tempo a chi più sa più spiace.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 2 “Purgatorio,” Canto 3, l. 76ff (3.76-78) (1314) [tr. Sayers (1955)]

Virgil inquiring of the "Contumacious" (the rebellious and excommunicates who only sought the forgiveness of God at the end of their lives) the best route to climb the Mountain of Purgatory. He actually gets in a dig at them, as they are themselves delayed ascending the Mountain because of their delayed turn to Salvation.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Shew, where with easier slope these mountains bend,
The MENTAL PROGRESS ill can bear a stand.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 15]

Instruct us where the mountain low declines,
So that attempt to mount it be not vain.
For who knows most, him loss of time most grieves.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Tell us in what direction mountain lies --
If it be possible to climb its side?
Lost time the wisest find it worst to bide.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

Tell us upon what side the mountain slopes,
So that the going up be possible,
For to lose time irks him most who most knows.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Tell us where the mountain falls, so that it is possible to go upward; for loss of time displeases most who most knows.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Tell us where easiest slopes the precipice.
So that we there our upward path may hold:
Him who knows most time lost doth most displease.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Tell us, where the mountain lies so that the going up is possible; for to lose time is most displeasing to him who knows most.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Tell us where the mountain slopes, so that it may be possible to go upward; for time lost irks him who knowest most.
[tr. Okey (1901)]

Tell us where the mountain slopes so that it is possible to go up; for loss of time most grieves him that knows best.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Tell us where slopes the mountain by degrees
Such, that it may be possible to ascend;
For him who knows most lost hours most displease.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

Tell us which way
leads to some slope by which we two may climb.
Who best knows time is most grieved by delay.
[tr. Ciardi (1961)]

Tell us where the mountain slopes so that it is possible to go up, for time lost irks him most who knows most.
[tr. Singleton (1973)]

Tell us where the mountain slopes enough
for us to start our climb: the more one learns,
the more one comes to hate the waste of time.
[tr. Musa (1981)]

Tell us where the mountain-side slopes so
That it is possible to go up higher;
For those who know most, dislike most to dawdle.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Please tell
us where the slope inclines and can be climbed;
for he who best discerns the worth of time
is most distressed whenever time is lost.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1982)]

Tell us where the mountain slopes so that it is possible to climb it; for losing time displeases most those who know most.
[tr. Durling (2003)]

Tell us where the mountain slopes allow us to go upwards, since lost time troubles those most, who know most.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Please tell us where the mountain angles down
to make it possible for us to climb.
For those who know the most, most hate time lost.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2007)]

Tell us where the mountain rises gently
so that we may begin the long ascent.
The more we know, the more we hate time's waste.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Tell us where they bend, these mountain slopes,
So feet may find their way. A man of knowledge
Regrets the loss of time far more than most.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Added on 8-Oct-23 | Last updated 8-Oct-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.

Dave Barry (b. 1947) American humorist
“Decaf Poopacino,” Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down! (2000)
Added on 20-Oct-22 | Last updated 20-Oct-22
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Something must happen — and that explains most human commitments. Something must happen, even loveless slavery, even war or death.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
The Fall [La Chute] (1956) [tr. O’Brien]
Added on 4-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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Sex is interesting, but it’s not totally important. I mean, it’s not even as important (physically) as excretion. A man can go seventy years without a piece of ass, but he can die in a week without a bowel movement.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
Added on 24-Nov-21 | Last updated 24-Nov-21
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I am sure that in nine out of ten cases the original wish to write is the wish to make oneself felt … the non-essential writer never gets past that wish.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish author
Letter to Graham Greene, quoted in Why Do I Write? (1948)

Ellipses in the original.
Added on 24-Aug-20 | Last updated 24-Aug-20
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There’s some devil in us that drives us to and fro on everlasting idiocies. There’s time for everything except the things worth doing. Think of something you really care about. Then add hour to hour and calculate the fraction of your life that you’ve actually spent in doing it. And then calculate the time you’ve spent on things like shaving, riding to and fro on buses, waiting in railway, junctions, swapping dirty stories, and reading the newspapers.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
Coming up for Air, ch. 5 (1939)
Added on 26-May-20 | Last updated 26-May-20
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The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next election, if we believe the newspapers. But so it was last year, and so it was the year before, and our fathers believed the same thing forty years ago.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1848-10)
Added on 9-Jun-19 | Last updated 27-Mar-23
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It’s amazing how much work you can get done in three days if you hold a blowtorch to each end of the candle.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Annihilation Score, ch. 7 (2015)
Added on 13-Jun-17 | Last updated 13-Jun-17
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The convictions that leaders have formed before reaching high office are the intellectual capital they will consume as long as they continue in office. There is little time for leaders to reflect. They are locked in an endless battle in which the urgent constantly gains on the important. The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstance.

Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
The White House Years, ch. 3 (1979)
Added on 3-Aug-15 | Last updated 3-Aug-15
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“The counsel of Gandalf was not founded on foreknowledge of safety, for himself or for others,” said Aragorn. “There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 2: The Two Towers, Book 3, ch. 2 “The Riders of Rohan” (1954)
Added on 13-Sep-11 | Last updated 19-Jan-23
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