Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes
He alone is great and happy who requires neither to command nor to obey in order to secure his being of some importance in the world.
One can be very happy without demanding that others agree with them.
Age does not make us childish, as some say; it finds us true children.
Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them they translate into their own language and forthwith it is something entirely different.
Ignorant men raise questions that wise men answered a thousand years ago.
Nothing is as terrible to see as ignorance in action.
To be pleased with one's limits is a wretched state.
Mysteries are not necessarily miracles.
Before you can do something you must first be something.
For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him he must regard himself as greater than he is.
Character, in great and little things, means carrying through what you feel able to do.
If a man writes a book, let him set down only what he knows. I have guesses enough of my own.
If I say to the moment: 'Stay now! You are so beautiful'!
All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.
There is a courtesy of the heart; it is allied to love. From it springs the purest courtesy in the outward behavior.
We are accustomed to see men deride what they do not understand, and snarl at the good and beautiful because it lies beyond their sympathies.
A clever man commits no minor blunders.
What we don't understand we don't possess.
Everyone hears only what he understands.
One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude.
No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others.
Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.
A correct answer is like an affectionate kiss.
For just when ideas fail, a word comes in to save the situation.
Every situation, every moment -- is of infinite worth; for it is the representative of a whole eternity.
Altogether national hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture.
Who never ate his bread in sorrow, Who never spent the darksome hours Weeping, and watching for the morrow,-- He knows ye not, ye gloomy Powers.
He who moves not forward, goes backward.
One never goes so far as when one doesn't know where one is going.
Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.
The people who are absent are the ideal; those who are present seem to be quite commonplace.
My poor head is in such a whirl, my mind is all in bits.
The thinker makes a great mistake when he asks after cause and effect. They both together make up the indivisible phenomena.
Nothing is more revolting than the majority; for it consists of few vigorous predecessors, of knaves who accommodate themselves, of weak people who assimilate themselves, and the mass that toddles after them without knowing in the least what it wants.
Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of becoming.
Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.
There is nothing in which people more betray their character than in what they laugh at.
Whoever, in middle age, attempts to realize the wishes and hopes of his early youth, invariably deceives himself. Each ten years of a man's life has its own fortunes, its own hopes, its own desires.
Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.
What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.
Life's objective is life itself.
One lives but once in the world.
Life is a quarry, out of which we are to mold and chisel and complete a character.
Art is long, life short; judgment difficult, opportunity transient.
Life is the childhood of our immortality.
Character develops itself in the stream of life.
Men show their character in nothing more clearly than what they think laughable.
One of the most striking signs of the decay of art is when we see its separate forms jumbled together.
Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.
Oh how sweet it is to hear one's own convictions from another's lips.
Time does not relinquish its rights, either over human beings or over mountains.
Mountains cannot be surmounted except by winding paths.
Man errs as long as he strives.
A vain man can never be utterly ruthless: he wants to win applause and therefore he accommodates himself to others.
A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.
Man cannot persist long in a conscious state, he must throw himself back into the unconscious, for his root lives there...
I love those who yearn for the impossible.
Confronted by outstanding merit, there is no way of saving one's ego except by love.
Mastery is often taken for egotism.
It is in self-limitation that a master first shows himself.
Nothing is more damaging to a new truth than an old error.
We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
The first and last thing required of genius is the love of truth.
The greatest genius will never be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources.
The solution of every problem is another problem.
Everything is simpler than you think and at the same time more complex than you imagine.
All intelligent thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to try to think them again.
To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult.
As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.
We know accurately only when we know little, with knowledge doubt increases.
I can promise to be sincere, but not to be impartial.
Difficulties increase the nearer we approach our goal.
Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.
Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.
Our work is the presentation of our capabilities.
The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.
Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.
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.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts unexpressed - that can make of this earth a garden.
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.
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.
Nothing is worth more than this day.
Nature has neither kernel nor shell; she is everything at once.
Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.
We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.
We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverable for ourselves and for others.
Rest not. Life is sweeping by; go and dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.
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.
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 overcome them. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some goods 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.
When you praise someone you call yourself his equal.
If you start to think about your physical or moral condition, you usually find that you are sick.
Thinking is more interesting that knowing, but less interesting than looking.
The phrases men are accustomed to repeat incessantly, end by becoming convictions and ossify the organs of intelligence.
The person of analytic or critical intellect finds something ridiculous in everything. The person of synthetic or constructive intellect, in almost nothing.
The coward threatens when he is safe.
Death is a commingling of eternity with time; in the death of a good man, eternity is seen looking through time.
Where there is much light, the shadow is deep.
Everything a human being wants can be divided into four components: love, adventure, power and fame.
A life without love, without the presence of the beloved, is nothing but a mere magic-latern show. We draw out slide after slide, swiftly tiring of each, and pushing it back to make haste for the next.
Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.
We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
Plunge boldly into the thick of life!
A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.
This is the highest wisdom that I own; freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day as new.
- More about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Goethe Ring
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