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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No man ever prayed heartily without learning something.

We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.
No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my own constitution; the only wrong what is against it.
Language is the archives of history.
Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.
If a man's eye is on the Eternal, his intellect will grow.
A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.
Higher than the question of our duration is the question of our deserving. Immortality will come to such as are fit for it, and he would be a great soul in future must be a great soul now.
There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrate to some stroke of the imagination.
It is a lesson which all history teaches wise men, to put trust in ideas, and not in circumstances.
There is this benefit in brag, that the speaker is unconsciously expressing his own ideal. Humor him by all means; draw it all out, and hold him to it.
The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.
Our best history is still poetry.
Heroism feels and never reasons, and therefore is always right.
His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong.
To be great is to be misunderstood.
The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough.
It is very hard to be simple enough to be good.
Them meaning of good and bad, of better and worse, is simply helping or hurting.
The dice of God are always loaded.
In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.
The greatest genius is the most indebted person.
A day for toil, an hour for sport, but for a friend is life too short.
A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.
For what avail the plough or sail, Or land or life, if freedom fail?
Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short, in all the management of human affairs.
We estimate the wisdom of nations by seeing what they did with their surplus capital.
A man's personal defects will commonly have with the rest of the world precisely that importance which they have to himself. If he makes light of them, so will other men.
The hues of the opal, the light of the diamond, are not to be seen if the eye is too near.
The eye is easily frightened.
Enthusiasm is the leaping lightning, not to be measured by the horse-power of the understanding.
Commerce is a game of skill which everyone cannot play and few can play well.
Tobacco and opium have broad backs, and will cheerfully carry the load of armies, if you choose to make them pay high for such joy as they give and such harm as they do.
The compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts.
One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!
Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.
Courage charms us, because it indicates that a man loves an idea better than all things in the world, that he is thinking neither of his bed, nor his dinner, nor his money, but will venture all to put in act the invisible thought of his mind.
People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
Every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side.
We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.
Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them.
Beauty is the pilot of the young soul.
The angels are so enamoured of the language that is spoken in heaven, that they will not distort their lips with the hissing and unmusical dialects of men, but speak their own, whether there be any who understand it or not.
I hate this shallow Americanism which hopes to get rich by credit, to get knowledge by raps on midnight tables, to learn the economy of the mind by phrenology, or skill without study, or mastery without apprenticeship.
Hitch your wagon to a star. Let us not fag in paltry works which serve our pot and bag alone.
Beware what you set your heart upon. For it shall surely be yours.
The key to every man is his thought. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own.
The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity, but in being uninteresting.
These times of ours are serious and full of calamity, but all times are essentially alike. As soon as there is life there is danger.
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
A sect or party is an incognito devised to save man from the vexation of thinking.
Life consists in what a person is thinking of all day.
We gain the strength of the temptation we resist.
If we live truly, we shall see truly.
Life is a perpetual instruction in cause and effect.
There is then creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world.
People do not deserve to have good writings; they are so pleased with the bad.
Manners are the happy way of doing things; each once a stroke of genius or of love --now repeated and hardened into usage. They form at last a rich varnish, with which the routine of life is washed, and its details adorned. If they are superficial, so are the dewdrops which give such depth to the morning meadows.
The basis of good manners is self-reliance.