Quotes by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 - 22 March 1832), commonly known as "Goethe", was a German poet, novelist, philosopher, and scientist who is considered one of the giants of the literary world. In addition, aside from ...

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Rest not. Life is sweeping by; go and dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.

For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him he must regard himself as greater than he is.
Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting.
That is the true season of love; when we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved as much before, and that no one will ever love in the same way again.
We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.
All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.
Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.
The really unhappy person is the one who leaves undone what they can do, and starts doing what they don't understand; no wonder they come to grief.
A person hears only what they understand.
Whoever wishes to keep a secret must hide the fact that he possesses one.
In all things it is better to hope than to despair.
We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
Do not give in too much to feelings. A overly sensitive heart is an unhappy possession on this shaky earth.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.
The greatest difficulties lie where we are not looking for them.
Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at.
Oh how sweet it is to hear one's own convictions from another's lips.
What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.
Trust yourself, then you will know how to live.
Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.
Doubt can only be removed by action.
The person who in shaky times also wavers only increases the evil, but the person of firm decision fashions the universe.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without.
The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.
Instruction does much, but encouragement does everything.
No one has ever learned fully to know themselves.
The greater the knowledge, the greater the doubt.
Nothing is more terrible than to see ignorance in action.
Every situation, every moment -- is of infinite worth; for it is the representative of a whole eternity.
Our work is the presentation of our capabilities.
If I love you, what business is it of yours?
Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.
Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.
We know accurately only when we know little, with knowledge doubt increases.
Only by joy and sorrow does a person know anything about themselves and their destiny. They learn what to do and what to avoid.
One can be very happy without demanding that others agree with them.
There are nine requisites for contented living: HEALTH enough to make work a pleasure; WEALTH enough to support your needs; STRENGTH enough to battle with difficulties and forsake them; GRACE enough to confess your sins and overcome them; PATIENCE enough to toil until some good is accomplished; CHARITY enough to see some good in your neighbor; LOVE enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others; FAITH enough to make real the things of God; HOPE enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.
If you treat an individual... as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.
If you want a wise answer, ask a reasonable question.
Everywhere, we learn only from those whom we love.
The first and last thing required of genius is, love of the truth.
Certain defects are necessary for the existence of individuality.
Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.
A useless life is an early death.
We must not take the faults of our youth with us into old age, for age brings along its own defects.
Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again.
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.
One that does not think to highly of himself is more than he thinks.
Those who hope for no other life are dead even for this.
How can we know ourselves? Never by reflection, but only through action. Begin at once to do your duty and immediately you will know what is inside you.
To create something you must be something.
Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.
Mountains cannot be surmounted except by winding paths.
When a wife has a good husband it is easily seen in her face.
What is my life if I am no longer useful to others.
Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life.
The hero draws inspiration from the virtue of his ancestors.
The greatest genius will never be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources.
It is the strange fate of man, that even in the greatest of evils the fear of the worst continues to haunt him.
No prudent antagonist thinks light of his adversaries.
They teach in academies far too many things, and far too much that is useless.
I will listen to anyone's convictions, but pray keep your doubts to yourself.
Ambition and love are the wings to great deeds.
Talents are best nurtured in solitude. Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.
The heights charm us, but the steps do not; with the mountain in our view we love to walk the plains.
The effects of good music are not just because it's new; on the contrary music strikes us more the more familiar we are with it.
Nothing is worth more than this day. You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond your reach
By seeking and blundering we learn.
Know thyself? If I knew myself I would run away.
Where is the man who has the strength to be true, and to show himself as he is?
The history of mankind is his character.
Hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture.
What makes people happy is activity; changing evil itself into good by power, working in a God like manner.
A distracted existence leads us to no goal.
Only law can give us freedom.
Don't dissipate your powers; strive to concentrate them. Genius thinks it can do whatever it sees others doing, but it will surely repent of every ill-judged outlay.
Look closely at those who patronize you. Half are unfeeling, half untaught.
He who enjoys doing and enjoys what he has done is happy.
He who does not think much of himself is much more esteemed than he imagines.
People of uncommon abilities generally fall into eccentricities when their sphere of life is not adequate to their abilities.
It is only in misery that we recognize the hand of God leading good men to good.
Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.
Where there is much light, the shadow is deep.
No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others.
Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.
People are so constituted that everybody would rather undertake what they see others do, whether they have an aptitude for it or not.
It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it.
Every person above the ordinary has a certain mission that they are called to fulfill.
Self-love exaggerates our faults as well as our virtues.
There is nothing in the world more shameful than establishing one's self on lies and fables.
In the end we retain from our studies only that which we practically apply.
Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.
Whenever I hear people talking about liberal ideas, I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions.
Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.
The highest happiness of man is to have probed what is knowable and quietly to revere what is unknowable.
Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.
The best government is that which teaches us to govern ourselves.
Freedom consists not in refusing to recognize anything above us, but in respecting something which is above us; for by respecting it, we raise ourselves to it, and, by our very acknowledgment, prove that we bear within ourselves what is higher, and are worthy to be on a level with it
If a good person does you wrong, act as though you had not noticed it. They will make note of this and not remain in your debt long.
Mastery passes often for egotism.
I know nothing more mocking than a devil that despairs.
The destiny of any nation at any given time depends on the opinion of its young people, those under twenty-five.
A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude.
The coward threatens when he is safe.
Wealth lost is something lost, honor lost is something lost: Courage lost all is lost.
If you must tell me your opinions, tell me what you believe in. I have plenty of doubts of my own.
Before you can do something you must first be something.
Fresh activity is the only means of overcoming adversity.
Those that are firm in their will mold the world to themselves.
Be generous with kindly words, especially about those who are absent.
So long as you live and work, you will be misunderstood; to that you must resign yourself once and for all. Be silent!
The man of understanding finds everything laughable.
To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed -- That can make life a garden.
One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.
We always have time enough, if we will but use it aright.
Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking.
Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.
Life is the childhood of our immortality.
The little man is still a man.
A clever man commits no minor blunders.
Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.
It is in human nature to relax, when not compelled by personal advantage or disadvantage.
Our passion are the true phoenixes; when the old one is burnt out, a new one rises from its ashes.
We usually lose today, because there has been a yesterday, and tomorrow is coming.
It is delivery that makes the orators success.
I do not speak of what I cannot praise.
Stupidity is without anxiety.
Seldom in the business and transactions of ordinary life, do we find the sympathy we want.
Napoleon affords us an example of the danger of elevating one's self to the absolute, and sacrificing everything to the carrying out of an idea.
The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything.
He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.
Those are dead even for this life who hope for no other.
Difficulties increase the nearer we approach the goal.
There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.
Only learn to seize good fortune, for good fortune's always here.
Certain flaws are necessary for the whole. It would seem strange if old friends lacked certain quirks.
Men are so constituted that every one undertakes what he sees another successful in, whether he has aptitude for it or not.
Unlike grown ups, children have little need to deceive themselves.
The person of analytic or critical intellect finds something ridiculous in everything. The person of synthetic or constructive intellect, in almost nothing.
No wise combatant underestimates their antagonist.
We cannot fashion our children after our desires, we must have them and love them as God has given them to us.
Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image
Beauty is a manifestation of secret natural laws, which otherwise would have been hidden from us forever.
Art is long, life short, judgment difficult, opportunity transient.
Age does not make us childish, as some say; it finds us true children.
How shall we learn to know ourselves? By reflection? Never; but only through action. Strive to do thy duty; then you shall know what is in thee.
The people who are absent are the ideal; those who are present seem to be quite commonplace.
Some of our weakness is born in us, some of it comes through education; it is a big question as to which gives us the most trouble.
Wisdom is found only in truth.
This is the highest wisdom that I own; freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew.
We are never further from what we wish than when we believe that we have what we wished for.
Every spoken word arouses our self-will.
He who does not expect a million readers should not write a line.
Whatever you cannot understand, you cannot possess.
Nothing is to be rated higher than the value of the day.
Thought expands, but paralyzes; action animates, but narrows.
All truly wise thoughts have been thoughts already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.
Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them they translate into their own language, and forthwith it is something entirely different.
The world is for thousands a freak show; the images flicker past and vanish; the impressions remain flat and unconnected in the soul. Thus they are easily led by the opinions of others, are content to let their impressions be shuffled and rearranged and evaluated differently.
Girls we love for what they are; men for what they promise to be.
The human mind will not be confined to any limits.
The best fortune that can fall to a man is that which corrects his defects and makes up for his failings.
Out of moderation a pure happiness springs.
Who is sure of their own motives can in confidence advance or retreat.
In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.
Nature understands no jesting. She is always true, always serious, always severe. She is always right, and the errors are always those of man.
No two men see the world exactly alike, and different temperaments will apply in different ways a principle that they both acknowledge. The same man will, indeed, often see and judge the same things differently on different occasions: early convictions must give way to more mature ones. Nevertheless, may not the opinions that a man holds and expresses withstand all trials, if he only remains true to himself and others?
The right man is the one that seizes the moment.
Passions are vices or virtues to their highest powers.
We can always redeem the man who aspires and strives.
The philosopher must station themselves in the middle.
Since Time is not a person we can overtake when he is gone, let us honor him with mirth and cheerfulness of heart while he is passing.
A collections of anecdotes and maxims is the greatest of treasures for the man of the world, for he knows how to intersperse conversation with the former in fit places, and to recollect the latter on proper occasions.
To the person with a firm purpose all men and things are servants.
People may live as much retired from the world as they like, but sooner or later they find themselves debtor or creditor to some one.
We can offer up much in the large, but to make sacrifices in little things is what we are seldom equal to.
The senses do not deceive us, but the judgment does.
Nothing is true, but that which is simple.
I don't know a greater advantage, than to appreciate the worth of an enemy.
A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.
Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own.
Never by reflection, but only by doing is self-knowledge possible to one.
What is not fully understood is not possessed.
Clever people are always the best conversations lexicon.
There is nothing more frightful than imagination without taste.
Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.
Man... knows only when he is satisfied and when he suffers, and only his sufferings and his satisfactions instruct him concerning himself, teach him what to seek and what to avoid. For the rest, man is a confused creature; he knows not whence he comes or whither he goes, he knows little of the world, and above all, he knows little of himself.
Happiness is a ball after which we run wherever it rolls, and we push it with our feet when it stops.
The man who is born with a talent which he was meant to use finds his greatest happiness in using it.
The phrases that men hear or repeat continually, end by becoming convictions and ossify the organs of intelligence.
Sowing is not as difficult as reaping.
Excellence is rarely found, more rarely valued.
Love can do much, but duty more.
While man's desires and aspirations stir he cannot choose but err.
Death is a commingling of eternity with time; in the death of a good man, eternity is seen looking through time.
One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.
Strike the dog dead, it's but a critic!
There is no crime of which I do not deem myself capable.
Who is the most sensible person? The one who finds what is to their own advantage in all that happens to them.
The formation of one's character ought to be everyone's chief aim.
Character develops itself in the stream of life.
Men show their character in nothing more clearly than what they think laughable.
Human beings, by change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.
Personality is everything in art and poetry.
Rejoice that you have still have a long time to live, before the thought comes to you that there is nothing more in the world to see.
Then indecision brings its own delays, And days are lost lamenting o'er lost days. Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; What you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
The deed is everything, the glory is naught.
When ideas fail, words come in very handy.
If any man wishes to write a clear style, let him first be clear in his thoughts.
Traveling is like gambling: it is always connected with winning and losing, and generally where it is least expected we receive, more or less than what we hoped for.
People should talk less and draw more. Personally, I would like to renounce speech altogether and, like organic nature, communicate everything I have to say visually.
The decline in literature indicates a decline in the nation. The two keep pace in their downward tendency.
If each one does their duty as an individual and if each one works in their own proper vocation, it will be right with the whole.
We are the slaves of objects around us, and appear little or important according as these contract or give us room to expand.
The unnatural, that too is natural.
Nature goes her own way and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.
To hard necessity ones will and fancy must conform.
The most original of authors are not so because they advance what is new, but more because they know how to say something, as if it had never been said before.
There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. There is only an eternally new now that builds and creates itself out of the Best as the past withdraws.
The little that is completed, vanishes from the sight of one who looks forward to what is still to do.
If a man or woman is born ten years sooner or later, their whole aspect and performance shall be different.
Austere perseverance, hash and continuous... rarely fails of its purpose, for its silent power grows irresistible greater with time.
Oral delivery aims at persuasion and making the listener believe they are converted. Few persons are capable of being convinced; the majority allow themselves to be persuaded.
People have a peculiar pleasure in making converts, that is, in causing others to enjoy what they enjoy, thus finding their own likeness represented and reflected back to them.
To make converts is the natural ambition of everyone.
Secrecy has many advantages, for when you tell someone the purpose of any object right away, they often think there is nothing to it.
Objects in pictures should so be arranged as by their very position to tell their own story.
In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from side to side, thinking they will be more comfortable.
Napoleon for the sake of a good name broke in pieces half the world.
Every man has enough power left to carry out that of which he is convinced.
He who has a task to perform must know how to take sides, or he is quite unworthy of it.
If the mass of people hesitate to act, strike with swiftly and with boldness, the brave heart that understands and seizes opportunity can everything.
Upon the creatures we have made, we are, ourselves, at last, dependent.
Everything in the world may be endured except continual prosperity.
Deeply earnest and thoughtful people stand on shaky footing with the public.
A purpose you impart is no longer your own.
Be above it! Make the world serve your purpose, but do not serve it.
Anecdotes and maxims are rich treasures to the man of the world, for he knows how to introduce the former at fit place in conversation.
Reason can never be popular. Passions and feelings may become popular, but reason will always remain the sole property of a few eminent individuals.
People do not mind their faults being spread out before them, but they become impatient if called on to give them up.
A person can stand almost anything except a succession of ordinary days.
A great revolution is never the fault of the people, but of the government.
A great scholar is seldom a great philosopher.
Whether a person shows themselves to be a genius in science or in writing a song, the only point is, whether the thought, the discovery, or the deed, is living and can live on.
The credit of advancing science has always been due to individuals and never to the age.
Science has been seriously retarded by the study of what is not worth knowing and of what is not knowable.
A person places themselves on a level with the ones they praise.
Self-knowledge comes from knowing other men.
Taste is only to be educated by contemplation, not of the tolerably good but of the truly excellent. I therefore show you only the best works; and when you are grounded in these, you will have a standard for the rest, which you will know how to value, without overrating them.
There is repetition everywhere, and nothing is found only once in the world.
To understand one thing well is better than understanding many things by halves.
The people rate strength before everything.
On the pinnacle of success man does not stand firm long.
Superstition is the poetry of life.
What chance gathers she easily scatters. A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.
Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.
No one as ever completed their apprenticeship.
I've studied now Philosophy and Jurisprudence, Medicine -- and even, alas! Theology -- from end to end with labor keen; and here, poor fool with all my lore I stand, no wiser than before.
We eagerly get hold of a law that serves as a weapon to our passions.
Every offense is avenged on earth.
A judge who cannot punish, in the end associates themselves with the criminal.
Be he a king or a peasant, he is happiest who finds peace at home.
It is said, that no one is a hero to their butler. The reason is, that it requires a hero to recognize a hero. The butler, however, will probably know well how to estimate his equals.
Hatred is active, and envy passive dislike; there is but one step from envy to hate.
A person is never happy till their vague strivings has itself marked out its proper limitations.
The most happy man is he who knows how to bring into relation the end and beginning of his life.
One never goes further than when they do not know where they are going.
What by a straight path cannot be reached by crooked ways is never won.
Giving is the business of the rich.
In comradeship is danger countered best.
Yes! To this thought I hold with firm persistence; The last result of wisdom stamps it true; He only earns his freedom and existence Who daily conquers them anew.
It seems to never occur to fools that merit and good fortune are closely united.
If you modestly enjoy your fame you are not unworthy to rank with the holy.
Wood burns because it has the proper stuff in it; and a man becomes famous because he has the proper stuff in him.
What life half gives a man, posterity gives entirely.
Enjoy what thou has inherited from thy sires if thou wouldn't really possess it. What we employ and use is never an oppressive burden; what the moment brings forth, that only can it profit by.
Deny yourself! You must deny yourself! That is the song that never ends.
There is a courtesy of the heart; it is allied to love. From its springs the purest courtesy in the outward behavior.
Courage and modesty are the most unequivocal of virtues, for they are of a kind that hypocrisy cannot imitate; they too have this quality in common, that they are expressed by the same color.
You accuse a woman of wavering affections, but don't blame her; she is just looking for a consistent man.
I will not be as those who spend the day in complaining of headache, and the night in drinking the wine that gives it.