Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes and Sayings
1. Love, and you shall be loved. All love is mathematically just, as much as the two sides of an algebraic equation.
#2 Address on The Method of Nature, 1841
2. He who is in love is wise and is becoming wiser, sees newly every time he looks at the object beloved, drawing from it with his eyes and his mind those virtues which it possesses.
#3 Essays, VI. Friendship, 1841
3. DEAR FRIEND: If I was sure of thee, sure of thy capacity, sure to match my mood with thine, I should never think again of trifles in relation to thy comings and goings. I am not very wise: my moods are quite attainable: and I respect thy genius: it is to me as yet unfathomed; yet dare I not presume in thee a perfect intelligence of me, and so thou art to me a delicious torment. Thine ever, or never.
Excerpt from Wikipedia: Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, philosopher, and poet, best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the mid 19th century. His teachings directly influenced the growing New Thought movement of the mid 1800s. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society.
Success, a poem, which is often attributed to Emerson but disputable
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson Sayings
#1 Journals, 11 November 1842
1. Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
#2 Essays: First Series, 1841, History
2. Every revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind and when the same thought occurs in another man, it is the key to that era.
#3 Literary Ethics, Address to the Literary Societes of Dartmouth College, 24 July 1838
3. Thought is all light, and publishes itself to the universe. It will speak, though you were dumb, by its own miraculous organ. It will flow out of your actions, your manners, and your face. It will bring you friendships. It will impledge you to truth by the love and expectation of generous minds. By virtue of the laws of that Nature, which is one and perfect, it shall yield every sincere good that is in the soul, to the scholar beloved of earth and heaven.
4. A great man is always willing to be little.
#5-7 Essays: First Series, 1847, Self-Reliance
5. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
6. To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.
7. Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being.
#8 Journals, May 3, 1845
8. It is easy to live for others; everybody does. I call on you to live for yourselves.
#9-10 The Complete Works, 1904, Vol. X. Lectures and Biographical Sketches, V. Education
9. … adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience
10. Respect the child, respect him to the end, but also respect yourself. Be the companion of his thought, the friend of his friendship, the lover of his virtue, — but no kinsman of his sin.
#11 The American Scholar, 1837
11. Character is higher than intellect. Thinking is the function. Living is the functionary. The stream retreats to its source. A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think.
#12 Journals, 8 November 1838
12. Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
#13 Essays: First Series, Circles
13. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
#14 Delphi Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Illustrated)
14. Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.
#15 Think, Vol. 4-5, 1938, p. 32
15. Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him.
#16 Literary Ethics, Address to the Literary Societes of Dartmouth College, 24 July 1838
16. Thought is all light, and publishes itself to the universe. It will speak, though you were dumb, by its own miraculous organ. It will flow out of your actions, your manners, and your face. It will bring you friendships. It will impledge you to truth by the love and expectation of generous minds. By virtue of the laws of that Nature, which is one and perfect, it shall yield every sincere good that is in the soul, to the scholar beloved of earth and heaven.
#17 Nature, 1836
17. The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.
18. It is not length of life, but depth of life.
#19 Lectures and biographical sketches (1883), p.116
19. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.
#20 Journals, 20 December 1822
20. To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.
#21 The Conduct of Life, Chapter 6, Worship, p. 214
21. People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
#22 Essays: First Series, 1841, Spiritual Laws
22. The ancestor of every action is a thought.
#23 An Address Delivered Before the Senior Class in Divinity College, Cambridge, Sunday Evening, July 15, 1838
23. The man who renounces himself, comes to himself.
#24 Essays: First Series, Heroism
24. It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, — “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
#25 Essays: Second Series, Gifts
25. The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me. Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing.
#26-27 Essays: First Series, Friendship
26. The only money of God is God. He pays never with any thing less, or any thing else. The only reward of virtue is virtue: the only way to have a friend is to be one.
27. A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.
#28 The American Scholar, oration delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 31 August 1837
28. This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
#29 Essays: First Series, 1841
29. Do what we can, summer will have its flies: if we walk in the woods, we must feed mosquitos: if we go a-fishing, we must expect a wet coat.
30. Our strength grows out of our weakness. The indignation which arms itself with secret forces does not awaken until we are pricked and stung and sorely assailed.
#31 Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Public and Private Education,” lecture before the Parker Fraternity, Boston, Massachusetts, 27 November 1864
31. 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.
#32 The Conduct of Life, 1860, Culture
32. You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
#33 Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Complete Works, 1904, Vol. VIII. Letters and Social Aims, XI. Immortality
33. Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it.
#34 We Thank Thee
34. For this new morning with its light, Father, we thank Thee. For rest and shelter of the night, Father, we thank Thee. For health and food, for love and friends, for everything Thy goodness sends, Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
#35 Essays: First Series, Art
35. Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.
#36 Fortune of the Republic, 1878
36. What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered.
#37-38 Essays: Second Series, Experience
37. To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.
38. Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.
39. With the past as past I have nothing to do, nor with the future as future. I live now, and will verify all past history in my own moments.
#40 Walter Savage Landor, from The Dial, XII 1841
40. Yet a man may love a paradox, without losing either his wit or his honesty.
#41 Journals, 12 April 1834
41. We are always getting ready to live, but never living.
#42 Journals, 15 November 1839
42. Man exists for his own sake and not to add a laborer to the state.
#43 Nature, 1836
43. To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child.
#44 Literary Ethics: An Oration, Delivered before the Literary Societies of Dartmouth College, 24 July 1838
44. Explore, and explore, and explore. Be neither chided nor flattered out of your position of perpetual inquiry. Neither dogmatise yourself, nor accept another’s dogmatism.
#45 The conduct of life: Worship, 1860
45. But the real and lasting victories are those of peace and not of war.
#46 The conduct of life: Beauty, 1860
46. Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.
#47 Society and Solitude: Works and Days, 1870
47. One of the illusions is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday.
#48 Society and solitude: Success, 1870
48. Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.
#49 Society and solitude: Civilization, 1870
49. The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops – no, but the kind of man the country turns out.
#50 Social Aims
50. Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy.
#51 Journal, May 1843
51. My garden is an honest place. Every tree and every vine are incapable of concealment, and tell after two or three months exactly what sort of treatment they have had. The sower may mistake and sow his peas crookedly: the peas make no mistake, but come up and show his line.
#52 The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Letters and social aims [S]
52. Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world.
#53 Greatness, The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Letters and social aims [S]
53. His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong. (on Abraham Lincoln)
#54 Farming, Society and Solitude
54. Nature never hurries: atom by atom, little by little, she achieves her work.