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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I am not much an advocate for traveling, and I observe that men run away to other countries because they are not good in their own, and run back to their own because they pass for nothing in the new places. For the most part, only the light characters travel. Who are you that have no task to keep you at home?

I do not hesitate to read all good books in translations. What is really best in any book is translatable -- any real insight or broad human sentiment.
We rail at trade, but the historian of the world will see that it was the principle of liberty; that it settled America, and destroyed feudalism, and made peace and keeps peace; that it will abolish slavery.
The greatest meliorator of the world is selfish, huckstering Trade.
The surest poison is time.
What is the hardest thing in the world? To think.
We are ashamed of our thoughts and often see them brought forth by others.
A man's what he thinks about all day long
There is no thought in any mind, but it quickly tends to convert itself into power.
Thought makes every thing fit for use.
The revelation of Thought takes men out of servitude into freedom.
The key to every man is his thought. Sturdy and defying though he look, he has a helm which he obeys, which is the idea after which all his facts are classified. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own.
Some thoughts always find us young, and keep us so. Such a thought is the love of the universal and eternal beauty.
If a man sits down to think, he is immediately asked if has a headache.
What your heart thinks is great, is great. The soul's emphasis is always right.
Men lose their tempers in defending their taste.
Like bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.
Life too near paralyses art.
By his machines man can dive and remain under water like a shark; can fly like a hawk in the air; can see atoms like a gnat; can see the system of the universe of Uriel, the angel of the sun; can carry whatever loads a ton of coal can lift; can knock down cities with his fist of gunpowder; can recover the history of his race by the medals which the deluge, and every creature, civil or savage or brute, has involuntarily dropped of its existence; and divine the future possibility of the planet and its inhabitants by his perception of laws of nature.
Manners require time, and nothing is more vulgar than haste.
There are men whose manners have the same essential splendor as the simple and awful sculpture on the friezes of the Parthenon, and the remains of the earliest Greek art.
The torments of martyrdom are probably most keenly felt by the bystanders.
Men cease to interest us when we find their limitations.
Let us treat the men and women well: treat them as if they were real: perhaps they are.
We boast our emancipation from many superstitions; but if we have broken any idols, it is through a transfer of idolatry.
Shall we judge a country by the majority, or by the minority? By the minority, surely.
The mob is man voluntarily descending to the nature of the beast. Its fit hour of activity is night. Its actions are insane like its whole constitution. It persecutes a principle; it would whip a right; it would tar and feather justice, by inflicting fire and outrage upon the houses and persons of those who have these. It resembles the prank of boys, who run with fire-engines to put out the ruddy aurora streaming to the stars.
The world is his who has money to go over it.
Money is the representative of a certain quantity of corn or other commodity. It is so much warmth, so much bread.
It requires a great deal of boldness and a great deal of caution to make a great fortune, and when you have it, it requires ten times as much skill to keep it.
Money, which represents the prose of life, and which is hardly spoken of in parlors without an apology, is, in its effects and laws, as beautiful as roses.
Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.
In nature nothing can be given. All things are sold.
The rich mind lies in the sun and sleeps, and is Nature.
We fly to beauty as an asylum from the terrors of finite nature.
To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
No orator can top the one who can give good nicknames.
The reason why men do not obey us is because they see the mud at the bottom of our eye.
The only sin that we never forgive in each other is a difference in opinion.
Be an opener of doors.
Every wall is a door.
If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap, than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.
Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened being? Whence, then, this worship of the past?
Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds. Each man seeks those of different quality from his own, and such as are good of their kind; that is, he seeks other men, and the rest.
It is hard to go beyond your public. If they are satisfied with cheap performance, you will not easily arrive at better. If they know what is good, and require it. you will aspire and burn until you achieve it. But from time to time, in history, men are born a whole age too soon.
The history of persecution is a history of endeavors to cheat nature, to make water run up hill, to twist a rope of sand.
The worst of charity is that the lives you are asked to preserve are not worth preserving.
To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.
Painting was called silent poetry and poetry speaking painting.
Poetry must be as new as foam and as old as the rock.
Sooner or later that which is now life shall be poetry, and every fair and manly trait shall add a richer strain to the song.
There is a certain satisfaction in coming down to the lowest ground of politics, for we get rid of cant and hypocrisy.
If government knew how, I should like to see it check, not multiply, the population. When it reaches its true law of action, every man that is born will be hailed as essential.
Some men are born to own, and can animate all their possessions. Others cannot: their owning is not graceful; seems to be a compromise of their character: they seem to steal their own dividends.
We have more than we use.
The power which resides in man is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.
Every man believes that he has greater possibilities.
The stupidity of men always invites the insolence of power.