Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes


To be great is to be misunderstood.
If the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him.
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they are executed.
Children are all foreigners.
Make the most of yourself for all that there is of you.
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.
Ideas must work through the brains and the arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than dreams.
A hero is no braver than an ordinary person, but he is braver five minutes longer.
Judge of your natural character by what you do in dreams.
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
Men talk as if victory were something fortunate. Work is victory.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
I do not wish to treat friends daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know.
The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.
A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.
The only way to have a friend is to be one.
A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.
Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.
Art is a jealous mistress and if a man has a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.
In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire.
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
Give all to love; obey thy heart.
Love and you shall be loved.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
What you are shouts so loud in my ears I cannot hear what you say.
I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.
My cow milks me.
The religion that is afraid of science dishoners God and commits suicide.
Always do what you are afraid to do.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.
The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
Hitch your wagon to a star.
To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.
I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.
Every man I meet is in some way my superior.
Men are conservatives when they are least vigorous, or when they are most luxurious. They are conservatives after dinner.
All conservatives are such from personal defects. They have been effeminated by position or nature, born halt and blind, through luxury of their parents, and can only, like invalids, act on the defensive.
People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
People only see what they are prepared to see.
Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.
Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves.
Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
Life is a perpetual instruction in cause and effect.
Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.
Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
The days come and go like muffled and veiled figures sent from a distant friendly party, but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them as silently away.
How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew!
That which we persist in doing becomes easier - not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability has increased.
Nature arms each man with some faculty which enables him to do easily some feat impossible to any other.
The task before you is nothing compared to the great force behind you.
All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many have taken the first step. But with every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.
Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors.
The craft of the merchant is this: bringing a thing from where it abounds to where it is costly.
A fly is as untamable as a hyena.
Money often costs too much.
The wise man in a storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.
Life is a festival only to the wise.
They can conquer who believe they can. He has not learned the first lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.
When we quarrell, how we wish we had been blameless.
Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.
The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.
We boil at different degrees.
Let the stoics say what they please, we do not eat for the good of living, but because the meat is savory and the appetite is keen.
There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn't matter who gets the credit.
For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.
We acquire the strength we have overcome.
For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass though them they prove to be many colored lenses which print the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.
Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession... Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.
The only gift is a portion of thyself.
It is impossible for a man to be cheated by anyone but himself.
Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.
Accept your genius and say what you think.
The excellent is new forever.
The first wealth is health.
The greatest homage to truth is to use it.
We live amid surfaces, and the true art is to skate well on them.
There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.
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... Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist... What I must do, is all that concerns me; not what the people think... Nothing can bring you peace but yourself; nothing, but the triumph of principles.
It is not length of life, but depth of life.
It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinions; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
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.
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 that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in;
Forget them as soon as you can.

Tomorrow is a new day;
Begin it well and serenely
And with too high a spirit
To be encumbered with your old nonsense.

This day is all that is good and fair.
It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations,
To waste a moment on yesterdays.


More about Ralph Waldo Emerson
American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson

Back to main quotes

If you have quotation to add, please send it to me.