Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Heinrich Heine

German Poet, Satirist, Journalist and Literary Critic

"I take pride in never being rude to anyone on this earth, which contains a great number of unbearable villains who set upon you to recount their sufferings and even recite their poems."

"I wept in my dreams. I dreamed you lay in the grave; I awoke, and the tears still poured down my cheeks. I wept in my dreams, I dreamed you had left me; I awoke and I went on weeping long and bitterly. I wept in my dreams, I dreamed you were still kind to me; I awoke, and still the flow of my tears streams on."

"I will not say that women have no character, rather, they have a new one every day."

"If one has no heart, one cannot write for the masses."

"If the Romans had been obliged to learn Latin they would never have found time to conquer the world."

"If thou lookest on the lime-leaf, thou a heart's form will discover; therefore are the lindens ever chosen seats of each fond lover."

"If you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe."

"Immortality?dazzling idea! Who first imagined thee! Was it some jolly burgher of Nuremburg, who with night-cap on his head, and white clay pipe in mouth, sat on some pleasant summer evening before his door, and reflected in all his comfort, that it would be right pleasant, if, with un-extinguishable pipe, and endless breath, he could thus vegetate onwards for a blessed eternity? Or was it a lover, who in the arms of his loved one, thought the immortality-thought, and that because he could think and feel naught beside!?Love! Immortality!"

"In action, the English have the advantage enjoyed by free men always entitled to free discussion: of having a ready judgment on every question. We Germans, on the other hand, are always thinking. We think so much that we never form a judgment."

"In blissful dream, in silent night, There came to me, with magic might, With magic might, my own sweet love, Into my little room above."

"In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides."

"In earlier religions the spirit of the time was expressed through the individual and confirmed by miracles. In modern religions the spirit is expressed through the many and confirmed by reason."

"In politics, as in life, we must above all things wish only for the attainable."

"In the image of the lion made He kittens small and curious."

"In the marvelous month of May when all the buds were bursting, then in my heart did love arise. In the marvelous month of May when all the birds were singing, then did I reveal to her my yearning and longing."

"In these days we fight for ideas, and newspapers are our fortresses."

"In vain would I seek to discover why sad and mournful am I, my thoughts without ceasing brood over a tale of the time gone by."

"Iron helmets will not save even heroes from the grave. Good man's blood will drain away while the wicked win the day."

"It has died in me, as it must, every idle, earthly lust, my hatred too of wickedness, utterly now, even the sense, of my own, of other men?s distress ? all that?s living in me is death! The curtain falls, the play is done, and my dear German public?s gone, wandering home, and yawning so, those good folk aren?t stupid though: they?ll dine happily enough tonight, drink, and sing, and laugh ? he?s right, the noble hero in homer?s book, who said once that the meanest schmuck, the lowest little Philistine there, In Stuttgart (am Neckar), is happier than I, son of Peleus, the hero, furled, the shadow prince in the Underworld."

"It is a common phenomenon that just the prettiest girls find it so difficult to get a man."

"It is an ancient story yet it is ever new."

"It is an old story, yet remains ever new."

"It is easy enough to forgive your enemies if you have not the means to harm them."

"It is only kindred griefs that draw forth our tears, and each weeps really for himself."

"It must require an inordinate share of vanity and presumption, too, after enjoying so much that is good and beautiful on earth, to ask the Lord for immortality in addition to all."

"Jests,--brain-fleas that jump about among the slumbering ideas."

"Just by chance on my journey I met my beloved?s kin, sister and father and mother knew me, and welcomed me in. They asked me how I was faring, and said, as I entered the place, that I wasn?t changed a bit, just a little thin in the face. I asked after aunts and cousins, after many a tiresome one, and asked how their little dog, with its soft little bark had done. And I asked about my darling, married now, by and by: they kindly gave me an answer: In childbed she did lie. And I offered congratulations, and murmured lovingly, to give her a thousand greetings with all their heart, from me. Little sister interrupted: Their dog so sweet and fine, had grown quite large and fierce, and been drowned in the Rhine. That little one?s like my darling, especially when she smiles: The look that made me miserable: She has the selfsame eyes."

"Like a wedding-song all-melting sings the nightingale, the dear one."

"Literary history is the great morgue where all seek the dead ones whom they love, or, to whom they are related."

"Lo, sleep is good, better is death--in sooth the best of all were never to be born."

"Love's torments made me seek the chase; rifle in hand, I roam'd apace. Down from the tree, with hollow scoff, the raven cried: "Head-off! head-off!""

"Lyrical poetry is much the same an every age, as the songs of the nightingales in every spring-time."

"Man,--the aristocrat amongst the animals."

"Mark this well, ye proud men of action! ye are, after all, nothing but unconscious instruments of the men of thought."

"Mark this well, you proud men of action: You are nothing but the unwitting agents of the men of thought who often, in quiet self-effacement, mark out most exactly all your doings in advance."

"Matrimony, - the high sea for which no compass has yet been invented"

"Mine is a most peaceable disposition. My wishes are: a humble cottage with a thatched roof, but a good bed, good food, the freshest milk and butter, flowers before my window, and a few fine trees before my door; and if God wants to make my happiness complete, he will grant me the joy of seeing some six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees. Before death I shall, moved in my heart, forgive them all the wrong they did me in their lifetime. One must, it is true, forgive one's enemies-- but not before they have been hanged."

"Money bequeathed to my wife "on the express condition that she remarry. I want at least one person to be truly bereaved by my death.""

"Money is the god of our time, and Rothschild is his prophet."

"Music is a strange thing. I would almost say it is a miracle. For it stands halfway between thought and phenomenon, between spirit and matter."

"Music played at weddings always reminds me of the music played for soldiers before they go into battle."

"My child, we were just children, two happy kids, that?s all: we crept into the henhouse, and hid there in the straw. We crowed like the cockerel, and all the passers-by ? thought our: ?cock-a-doodle-doo!? was the real cockerel?s cry. We papered over the boxes we found around the yard, and we lived there together in our elegant house of card. The neighbor?s cat, the old one, she often came for tea: we paid her our respects, then, I bowed and you curtseyed. We asked how she was feeling, politely and with care: since then we?ve said the same to many an ancient fur. We often sat there chatting, sensibly, as folks do, complaining how much better it was in our day too: how love and faith and loyalty have vanished from the earth, how dear the coffee is now, how hard to garner wealth!? they?re gone our games as children, everything goes, we see ? wealth and earth and ages, faith, love and loyalty."

"My darling, we sat together, we two, in our frail boat; the night was calm o'er the wide sea whereon we were afloat. The Specter-Island, the lovely, lay dim in the moon's mild glance; there sounded sweetest music, there waved the shadowy dance. It sounded sweeter and sweeter, it waved there to and fro; but we slid past forlornly upon the great sea-flow."

"My golden-haired beauty, I?m always sure of seeing, In the Tuileries Gardens, under the chestnut trees. Every day she?s out walking with two ugly old ladies ? are they aunts? Or dragons, disguised in women?s clothing? Could no one give me a clue then, of who she was? I asked my friends, all of them, but all in vain, i was nearly ill with passion. Daunted by the moustaches of her elderly companions, and daunted by my own heart even more completely, I never dared to whisper a single sighed word in passing, scarce dared to show my ardour, by the passion in my glances. Only today I?ve learnt at last her name. She?s called Laura, like the beautiful Proven‡ale A great poet fell in love with. She?s called Laura! Now I?ve got as Far as, long ago, Petrarch did, who praised the lovely woman In canzones and sonettos. She?s called Laura! Just like Petrarch, I can try platonic toying with her name?s melodic music ? He himself achieved no more."

"My heart resembles the ocean; has storm, and ebb and flow; and many a beautiful pearl lies hid in its depths below."

"My songs, they say, are poisoned. How else, love, could it be? Thou hast, with deadly magic, poured poison into me."

"Napoleon healed through sword and fire the sick nation."

"Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them."

"Newness hath an evanescent beauty."

"No talent, but yet a character."