Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Bitterness

"For how might sweetness ever have been known to him who never tasted bitterness? Felicity exists for those alone who first have suffered sorrow and distress... By opposites does one in wisdom grow." - Geoffrey Chaucer

"To bear up under loss; to fight the bitterness of defeat and the weakness of grief; to be victor over anger, to smile when tears are close; to resist disease and evil men and base instincts; to hate hate and to love love; to go on when it would seem good to die; to look up with unquenchable faith in something ever more about to be - that is what any man can do, and be great." - Zane Grey Orig. name Pearl Grey

"Much misconstruction and bitterness are spared to him who thinks naturally upon what he owes to others, rather than on what he ought to expect from them." - Madame Guizot. Elisabeth Charlotte Pauline Guizot

"There are many kinds of smiles, each having a distinct character. Some announce goodness and sweetness, others betray sarcasm, bitterness, and pride; some soften the countenance by their languishing tenderness, others brighten by their spiritual vivacity." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"There is a theory that since the child will be obliged in later life to do many things that he does not want to do, he might as well learn how while he is young. The difficulty here seems to be that learning to do one kind of a thing that you do not want to do does not guarantee your readiness to do other kinds of unpleasant things. That art cannot be taught. Each situation of compulsion, unless the spirit is completely broken, will have its own peculiar quality of bitterness, and no guarantee against it can be inculcated." -

"Ridicule may be the evidence of wit or bitterness and may gratify a little mind, or an ungenerous temper, but it is no test of reason and truth." - Tyron Edwards

"I pluck up the goodlisome herbs of sentences by pruning, eat them by reading, digest them by musing, and lay them at length in the high seat of memory by gathering them together; that so, having tasted their sweetness, I may the less perceive the bitterness of life." - Elizabeth I NULL

"When a man is sure that all he wants is happiness, then most grievously he deceives himself. All men desire happiness, but they need something far different, compared to which happiness is trivial, and in the lack of which happiness turns to bitterness in the mouth. There are many names for that which men need - "the one thing needful" - but the simplest is "wholeness."" - John Middleton Murry

"Familiarity in one's superiors causes bitterness, fir it may not be returned." - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"You cannot have ecstasy and divine vision without bitterness and despair, and both of these are the property of youth." - Edmund Wilson

"Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long cherished or a privilege he has long possessed that he is set free — he has set himself free — for higher dreams, for greater privileges. " - James Baldwin, fully James Arthur Baldwin

"Joy has to do with seeing how big, how completely unobstructed, and how precious things are… Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting." -

"To give and receive advice – the former with freedom and yet without bitterness, the latter with patience and without irritation – is peculiarly appropriate to genuine friendship." -

"Human life is a sad show, undoubtedly: ugly, heavy and complex. Art has no other end, for people of feeling, than to conjure away the burden and bitterness." - Gustave Flaubert

"The world? It is a territory under a curse, where even its pleasures carry with them their thorns and their bitterness… A place where hope, regarded as a passion so sweet, renders everybody unhappy; where those who have nothing to hope for, think themselves still more miserable, where all that pleases, pleases never for long; and where ennui is always most the sweetest destiny and the most supportable that one can expect in it." - Jean Baptiste Massillon

"The bitterness of studying is preferable to the bitterness of ignorance." - Philippine Proverbs, aka Philipino, Filipino, Ilocano and Tagalog Proverbs, Salawikain or Sawikain

"The certainty of a God giving meaning to life far surpasses in attractiveness the ability to behave badly with impunity. The choice would not be hard to make. But there is no choice and that is where the bitterness comes in. The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions. Everything is permitted does not mean that nothing is forbidden. The absurd merely confers an equivalence on the consequences of those actions." - Albert Camus

"The certainty of a God giving meaning to life far surpasses in attractiveness the ability to behave badly with impunity. The choice would not be hard to make. But there is no choice and that is where the bitterness comes in. The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions. Everything is permitted does not mean that nothing is forbidden. The absurd merely confers an equivalence on the consequences of those actions." -

"Love is the sunshine of the soul. Without it we get hard and sour and we never grow into what we could be. Love sweetens the bitterness of experience and softens the core of selfishness that is inherent in human nature." - Author Unknown NULL

"The rule of life is to be found within yourself. Ask yourself constantly, "What is the right thing to do?" Beware of ever doing that which you are likely, sooner or later, to repent of having done. It is better to live in peace than in bitterness and strife. It is better to believe in your neighbors than to fear and distrust them. The superior man does not wrangle. He is firm but not quarrelsome. He is sociable but not clannish. The superior man sets a good example to his neighbors. He is considerate of their feelings and property. Consideration for others is the basis of a good life, and a good society. Feel kindly toward everyone. Be friendly and pleasant among yourselves. Be generous and fair." - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"Much misconstruction and bitterness are spared to him who thinks naturally upon what he owes others, rather that on what he ought to expect from them." - François Guizot, fully François Pierre Guillaume Guizot

"You do not get a man's most effective criticism until you provoke him. Severe truth is expressed with some bitterness." - Henry David Thoreau, born David Henry Thoreau

"The first pressure of sorrow crushes out from our hearts the best wine; afterwards the constant weight of it brings forth bitterness - the taste and strain from the lees of the vat." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Envy may justly be called “the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity;” it is the most acid fruit that grows on the stock of sin, an fluid so subtle that nothing but the fire of divine love can purge it from the soul." - Hosea Ballou

"I do not believe that children should have to pay for the shortcoming and inequities of the society into which they were born. I do not think that children should have to pay for the real or supposed sins of their parents. And I think it would be shortsighted of a society to produce, by its neglect, a group of future citizens very likely to be unproductive and characterized by bitterness ands alienation." - John W. Gardner, fully John William Gardner

"The consciousness of being loved softens the keenest pangs, even at the moment of parting; yea, even the eternal farewell is robbed of half its bitterness when uttered in accepts that breathe love to the last sigh." - Joseph Addison

"Wine heightens indifference into love, love into jealousy, and jealousy into madness. It often turns the good-natured man into an idiot, and the choleric into an assassin. It give bitterness to resentment, it makes vanity insupportable, and displays every little spot of the soul in its utmost deformity." - Joseph Addison

"Increasing your gratitude about the good things in your past intensifies positive memories, and learning how to forgive past wrongs defuses the bitterness that makes satisfaction impossible." - Martin Seligman, Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman

"As long as our civilization is essentially one of property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us sick; there will be bitterness in our laughter; and our wine will burn our mouth. Only that good profits, which we can taste with all doors open, and which serves all men." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There are two types of pleasure before G‑d. The first is from the complete nullification of evil and its transformation from bitterness to sweetness and from darkness to light by the perfectly righteous. The second [pleasure] is when evil is repelled while it is still at its strongest and mightiest... through the efforts of the "intermediate man" (beinoni)... As in the analogy of physical food, in which there are two types of delicacies that give pleasure: the first being the pleasure derived from sweet and pleasant foods; and the second, from sharp and sour foods, which are spiced and prepared in such a way that they become delicacies that revive the soul." - Shneur Zalman of Liadi

"Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities." - Fred Rogers, "Mister Rogers," born Frederick McFeely Rogers

"Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it. Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it. Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it. Bitterness sickens life; love heals it. Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes." - Harry Emerson Fosdick

"Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long cherished or a privilege he has long possessed that he is set free — he has set himself free — for higher dreams, for greater privileges." -

"There is no worse bitterness than to reach the end of your life and realized you have not lived." - M. Scott Peck, fully Morgan Scott Peck

"I've tried to teach what I learned all those years in my mother and father's house, all those things I didn't realize I was learning and that I never knew I'd be so grateful for. When you have love and it's proffered every day in a kind of tender, yet stern insistence and even reckless laughter, when it is given to you and you accept it in life as a thing as natural as rain or snow, or the littler of leaves in fall, you can't help but take it for granted. For a bewildered while you incorrectly understand that the world has given you this because it's there in equal measure, everywhere. You never know until it's too late to do anything about it, how sweet the effort is: how lasting the human will to love can be in the breast of people who want to make it for you, who want to give it to you, without calculating what's in it for them, without thinking at all of what it will mean when you grow to full adulthood, see the world as it is, and forget to mention what you have been given. Every day of my grown-up life, I have wanted to do what my parents did. I have wanted to widen the province of love and weaken hate and bitterness in the hearts of my children. And I've done these things because of what I got from my family, all those lovely years when I was growing up, being loved and cherished and, unbeknown to me, and in the best way, honored, for myself." - Marian Wright Edelman

"Anger is not bitterness. Bitterness can go on eating at a man's heart and mind forever. Anger spends itself in its own time." - Madeleine L’Engle

" Family quarrels have a total bitterness unmatched by others. Yet it sometimes happens that they also have a kind of tang, a pleasantness beneath the unpleasantness, based on the tacit understanding that this is not for keeps; that any limb you climb out on will still be there later for you to climb back." - Mignon McLaughlin

"Impermanence is the very essence of joy-the drop of bitterness that enables one to perceive the sweet." - Myrtle Reed

"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison." - Nelson Mandela, fully Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

"Can such bitterness enter into the heart of the devout?" - Nicholas Boileau-Despréaux, sometimes Nicholas Desperaux or Nicolas Boileau

"The bread of bitterness is the food on which men grow to their fullest stature; the waters of bitterness are the debatable ford through which they reach the shores of wisdom; the ashes boldly grasped and eaten without faltering are the price that must be paid for the golden fruit of knowledge." - Ouida, pseudonym of Maria Louise Ramé, preferred to be called Marie Louise de la Ramée NULL

"Frightened, I jump up from the bank, the struggle begins anew. Bitterness has returned. I am not Pan in the reed, I am merely a human being and want to climb a few steps, but really climb them." - Paul Klee

"Certain people, in their eagerness to construct a world no external threat can penetrate build exaggeratedly high defense against the outside world, against new people, new places, different experiences and leave their own world stripped bare. It is there that bitterness begins irrevocable work… Close cycles. Not because of pride or arrogance, but because that no longer fits your life… Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere." -

"Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our souls, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives. " -

"Beyond the pain, life continues to be sweet. The basics are still there. Beauty, food and friendship, reservoirs of love and understanding. Later, possibly not yet, you are going to need others who will encourage you to make new beginnings. Welcome them. They will help you move on, to cherish happy memories and confront the painful ones with more than bitterness and anger. " -

"Beyond the pain, life continues to be sweet. The basics are still there. Beauty, food and friendship, reservoirs of love and understanding. Later, possibly not yet, you are going to need others who will encourage you to make new beginnings. Welcome them. They will help you move on, to cherish happy memories and confront the painful ones with more than bitterness and anger. " - Rosamunde Pilcher, also pen name Jane Fraser

"For all the talk about the need to be a likable team player, many people work in a fairly cutthroat environment that would seem to be especially challenging to those who possess the recommended traits. Cheerfulness, upbeatness, and compliance: these are the qualities of subordinates -- of servants rather than masters, women (traditionally, anyway) rather than men. After advising his readers to overcome the bitterness and negativity engendered by frequent job loss and to achieve a perpetually sunny outlook, management guru Harvey Mackay notes cryptically that the nicest, most loyal, and most submissive employees are often the easiest people to fire. Given the turmoil in the corporate world, the prescriptions of niceness ring of lambs-to-the-slaughter. " - Barbara Ehrenreich, born Barbara Alexander

"Faith makes all evil good to us, and all good better; unbelief makes all good evil, and all evil worse. Faith laughs at the shaking of the spear; unbelief trembles at the shaking of a leaf, unbelief starves the soul; faith finds food in famine, and a table in the wilderness. In the greatest danger, faith says, "I have a great God." When outward strength is broken, faith rests on the promises. In the midst of sorrow, faith draws the sting out of every trouble, and takes out the bitterness from every affliction." - Richard Cecil

"Perhaps most of us feel that we could accept death for ourselves and for those we love if it did not often seem to come with such untimeliness. But we rebel when it so little considers our wishes or our readiness. But we may well ask ourselves when would we be willing to part with or to part from those we love? And who is there among us whose judgment we would trust to measure out our lives? Such decisions would be terrible for mere men to make. But fortunately we are spared making them; fortunately they are made by wisdom higher than ours. And when death makes its visitations among us, inconsolable grief and rebellious bitterness should have no place. There must be no quarrel with irrevocable facts. Even when death comes by events which seem unnecessary and avoidable. We must learn to accept what we cannot help." - Richard L. Evans, fully Richard Louis Evans

"The ever-present expectancy of death is never far removed from any of us - whether we realize it or not. None of us can avoid it. It comes alike to the great and to the unknown; to the righteous and to the unrighteous. Wherein we differ is not in our ability to avert it, but in the preparedness with which we meet it. At such times some question the judgments of God. Some find bitterness because of the circumstances and because of the seeming untimeliness of death." - Richard L. Evans, fully Richard Louis Evans