Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

In the woods in a winter afternoon one will see as readily the origin of the stained glass window, with which Gothic cathedrals are adorned, in the colors of the western sky seen through the bare and crossing branches of the forest.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "History," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
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The scholar may lose himself in schools, in words, and become a pedant; but when he comprehends his duties, he above all men is a realist, and converses with things.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Speech, July 24, 1838, at Dartmouth College. "Literary Ethics," Nature, Addresses, and Lectures (1849).
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I can reason down or deny everything, except this perpetual Belly: feed he must and will, and I cannot make him respectable.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Montaigne, or the Skeptic," Representative Men (1850).
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The sensual man conforms thoughts to things; the poet conforms things to his thoughts. The one esteems nature as rooted and fast; the other, as fluid, and impresses his being thereon.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Nature, ch. 6 (1836, revised and repr. 1849).
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Great men or men of great gifts you shall easily find, but symmetrical men never.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Nominalist and Realist," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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The tendencies of the times favor the idea of self-government, and leave the individual, for all code, to the rewards and penalties of his own constitution, which work with more energy than we believe, whilst we depend on artificial restraints.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Politics," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Representative Men, "Plato; or, the Philosopher," (1850).
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My doom and my strength is to be solitary.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Society and Solitude," Society and Solitude (1870). This is quoted by Edward Waldo Emerson in the notes to the Riverside Press edition of Society and Solitude.
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As the bird trims her to the gale, I trim myself to the storm of time, I man the rudder, reef the sail, Obey the voice at eve obeyed in prime: "Lowly faithful, banish fear, Right onward drive unharmed; The port, well worth the cruise, is near, And every wave is charmed."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Terminus," May-Day and Other Pieces (1867).
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Convert life into truth.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Address, July 15, 1838, delivered before the senior class in Divinity College, Cambridge. "The Divinity School Address," The Portable Emerson, ed. Carl Bode (1946, repr. 1981). This is the epigram in the middle of a sentence that reads: "The capital secret of his profession, namely to convert life into truth, he had not learned." Here Emerson is criticizing an unnamed minister who Conrad Wright later convincingly argued to be Barzillai Frost, minister of the Concord Unitarian Church from 1837 to 1857. See Wright's The Liberal Christians (Unitarian Universalist Association, 1970, repr. 1980).
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