Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 April 27, 1882) was a famous American essayist and one of America's most influential thinkers and writers. more

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The arts and inventions of each period are only its costume, and do not invigorate men.

The most advanced nations are always those who navigate the most.
The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor.
Tis very certain that each man carries in his eye the exact indication of his rank in the immense scale of men, and we are always learning to read it. A complete man should need no auxiliaries to his personal presence.
Who can guess how much industry and providence and affection we have caught from the pantomime of brutes?
The intellectual man requires a fine bait; the sots are easily amused. But everybody is drugged with his own frenzy, and the pageant marches at all hours, with music and banner and badge.
In America the geography is sublime, but the men are not; the inventions are excellent, but the inventors one is sometimes ashamed of.
A man's action is only a picture book of his creed.
Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.
Why should we be cowed by the name of Action?.
Let us, if we must have great actions, make our own so. All action is of infinite elasticity, and the least admits of being inflated with celestial air, until it eclipses the sun and moon.
Men's actions are too strong for them. Show me a man who has acted, and who has not been the victim and slave of his action.
The German intellect wants the French sprightliness, the fine practical understanding of the English, and the American adventure; but it has a certain probity, which never rests in a superficial performance, but asks steadily, To what end? A German public asks for a controlling sincerity.
Act, if you like, but you do it at your peril. Men's actions are too strong for them. Show me a man who has acted and who has not been the victim and slave of his action.
A man's style is his mind's voice. Wooden minds, wooden voices.
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered
The virtue in most request is conformity.
The less a man thinks or knows about his virtues, the better we like him.
The virtues of society are vices of the saint. The terror of reform is the discovery that we must cast away our virtues, or what we have always esteemed such, into the same pit that has consumed our grosser vices.
Commerce is of trivial import; love, faith, truth of character, the aspiration of man, these are sacred.
The triumphs of peace have been in some proximity to war. Whilst the hand was still familiar with the sword-hilt, whilst the habits of the camp were still visible in the port and complexion of the gentleman, his intellectual power culminated; the compression and tension of these stern conditions is a training for the finest and softest arts, and can rarely be compensated in tranquil times, except by some analogous vigor drawn from occupations as hardy as war.
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, arrives the snow.
The world belongs to the energetic.
The education of the will is the object of our existence.
Wealth is in applications of mind to nature; and the art of getting rich consists not in industry, much less in saving, but in a better order, in timeliness, in being at the right spot.
Life is a festival only to the wise.
Raphael paints wisdom; Handel sings it, Phidias carves it, Shakespeare writes it, Wren builds it, Columbus sails it, Luther preaches it, Washington arms it, Watt mechanizes it.
Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.
Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.
A great man is always willing to be little.
When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.
An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.
Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.
It sometimes occurs that memory has a personality of its own and volunteers or refuses its information at its will, not at mine.
There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact.
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.
Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak.
The ancestor of every action is a thought.
Self-trust is the first secret of success.
Few envy the consideration enjoyed by the oldest inhabitant.
We find a delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.
It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire from sight and afterwards return again.
Spring still makes spring in the mind, When sixty years are told; Love wakes anew this throbbing heart, And we are never old.
After thirty a man wakes up sad every morning excepting perhaps five or six until the day of his death.
Gambol and song and jubilee are done, Life's motley pilgrimage must be begun;--Another scene is crowding on the last,--Perhaps a darkened picture of the past; And we, who leave Youth's fairy vales behind, Where Joy hath hailed us on the summer wind, Would fain, with fond delay, prolong the hour, Which sternly strikes at Friendship's golden power.
There is no beautifier of complexion or form of behavior like the wish to scatter joy, and not pain, around us.
A man's wife has more power over him than the state has.
Men love to wonder and that is the seed of our science.
It makes a great difference in the force of a sentence, whether a man be behind it or no.
See only that thou work and thou canst not escape the reward.
We must hold a man amenable to reason for the choice of his daily craft or profession. It is not an excuse any longer for his deeds that they are the custom of his trade. What business has he with an evil trade?
Work and thou canst escape the reward; whether the work be fine or course, planting corn or writing epics, so only it be honest work, done to thine own approbation, it shall earn a reward to the senses as well as to the thought.
The mark of the man of the world is absence of pretension. He does not make a speech; he takes a low business-tone, avoids all brag, is nobody, dresses plainly, promises not at all, performs much, speaks in monosyllables, hugs his fact. He calls his employment by its lowest name, and so takes from evil tongues their sharpest weapon. His conversation clings to the weather and the news, yet he allows himself to be surprised into thought, and the unlocking of his learning and philosophy.
There is no luck in literary reputation. They who make up the final verdict upon every book are not the partial and noisy readers of the hour when it appears; but a court as of angels, a public not to be bribed, not to be entreated, and not to be overawed, decides upon every man's title to fame.
Republics abound in young civilians who believe that the laws make the city, that grave modifications of the policy and modes of living and employments of the population, that commerce, education and religion may be voted in or out; and that any measure, though it were absurd, may be imposed on a people if only you can get sufficient voices to make it a law. But the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand which perishes in the twisting; that the State must follow and not lead the character and progress of the citizen; that the form of government which prevails is the expression of what cultivation exists in the population which permits it. The law is only a memorandum.
What is life but the angle of vision? A man is measured by the angle at which he looks at objects. What is life but what a man is thinking of all day? This is his fate and his employer. Knowing is the measure of the man. By how much we know, so much we are.
Not gold but only men can makeA people great and strong;Men who for truth and honors sakeStand fast and suffer long. Brave men who work while others sleep,Who dare while others flyThey build a nations pillars deepAnd lift them to the sky.