Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"The intimate relation between humor and faith is derived from the fact that both deal with the incongruities of our existence. Humor is concerned with the immediate incongruities of life and faith with ultimate ones. Both humor and faith are the expressions of the freedom of the human spirit, of its capacity to stand outside of life, and itself, and view the whole scene. But any view of the whole immediately creates the problem of how the incongruities of life are to be dealt with; for the effort to understand the life, and our place in it, confronts us with inconsistencies and incongruities which do not fit into any neat picture of the whole. Laughter is our reaction to immediate incongruities and those which do not affect us essentially. Faith is the only possible response to the ultimate incongruities of existence which threaten the very meaning of our life." - Reinhold Niebuhr, fully Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the self-same well from which your laughter rises was often-times filled with your tears." - René Descartes

"In particular, [my mother] had a wonderful sense of humor, and I learned from her that the highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion." - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"It is a great adventure to contemplate the universe, beyond man, to contemplate what it would be like without man, as it was in a great part of its long history and as it is in a great majority of places. When this objective view is finally attained, and the mystery and majesty of matter are fully appreciated, to then turn the objective eye back on man viewed as matter, to view life as part of this universal mystery of greatest depth, is to sense an experience which is very rare, and very exciting. It usually ends in laughter and delight in the futility of trying to understand what this atom in the universe is, this thing" - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion." - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"Only in the theatre was it possible to see the performers and to be warmed by their personal charm, to respond to their efforts and to feel their response to the applause and appreciative laughter of the audience. It had an intimate quality; audience and actors conspired to make a little oasis of happiness and mirth within the walls of the theatre. Try as we will, we cannot be intimate with a shadow on a screen, nor a voice from a box." - Robertson Davies

"The Trial By Existence - Even the bravest that are slain Shall not dissemble their surprise On waking to find valor reign, Even as on earth, in paradise; And where they sought without the sword Wide fields of asphodel fore’er, To find that the utmost reward Of daring should be still to dare. The light of heaven falls whole and white And is not shattered into dyes, The light for ever is morning light; The hills are verdured pasture-wise; The angel hosts with freshness go, And seek with laughter what to brave;— And binding all is the hushed snow Of the far-distant breaking wave. And from a cliff-top is proclaimed The gathering of the souls for birth, The trial by existence named, The obscuration upon earth. And the slant spirits trooping by In streams and cross- and counter-streams Can but give ear to that sweet cry For its suggestion of what dreams! And the more loitering are turned To view once more the sacrifice Of those who for some good discerned Will gladly give up paradise. And a white shimmering concourse rolls Toward the throne to witness there The speeding of devoted souls Which God makes his especial care. And none are taken but who will, Having first heard the life read out That opens earthward, good and ill, Beyond the shadow of a doubt; And very beautifully God limns, And tenderly, life’s little dream, But naught extenuates or dims, Setting the thing that is supreme. Nor is there wanting in the press Some spirit to stand simply forth, Heroic in its nakedness, Against the uttermost of earth. The tale of earth’s unhonored things Sounds nobler there than ’neath the sun; And the mind whirls and the heart sings, And a shout greets the daring one. But always God speaks at the end: ’One thought in agony of strife The bravest would have by for friend, The memory that he chose the life; But the pure fate to which you go Admits no memory of choice, Or the woe were not earthly woe To which you give the assenting voice.’ And so the choice must be again, But the last choice is still the same; And the awe passes wonder then, And a hush falls for all acclaim. And God has taken a flower of gold And broken it, and used therefrom The mystic link to bind and hold Spirit to matter till death come. ‘Tis of the essence of life here, Though we choose greatly, still to lack The lasting memory at all clear, That life has for us on the wrack Nothing but what we somehow chose; Thus are we wholly stripped of pride In the pain that has but one close, Bearing it crushed and mystified." - Robert Frost

"Because poetry is the language of felt thought and utterance… of admissions and oaths as sacred as life itself, it is evident in an economy by its absence. As long as people are perceived in economic terms alone, poetry (and all the other arts, for that matter) will be regarded as ornamental or irrelevant or simply dispensable… the disregard of poetry will be as fatal to their spiritual lives as the deprivation of oxygen would be to their physical lives. Why? Because poetry tells us who we are, what our surroundings mean to us, and what waits to be discovered beneath the apparent.…It is the language of the heart…It is at the same time the language of the senses." - Samuel J. Hazo, fully Samuel John Hazo

"This is the spot where I will lie When life has had enough of me, These are the grasses that will blow Above me like a living sea. These gay old lilies will not shrink To draw their life from death of mine, And I will give my body's fire To make blue flowers on this vine. "O Soul," I said, "have you no tears? Was not the body dear to you?" I heard my soul say carelessly, "The myrtle flowers will grow more blue. " - Sara Teasdale, born Sara Trevor Teasdale, aka Sara Teasdale Filsinger

"Without cause God gave us Being; without cause, give it back again." - Rumi, fully Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi NULL

"To strive with difficulties, and to conquer them, is the highest human felicity." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"He foresaw that she would be very much more useful to him in the character of a free woman." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"I strongly reject any conceptual scheme that places our options on a line, and holds that the only alternative to a pair of extreme positions lies somewhere between them. More fruitful perspectives often require that we step off the line to a site outside the dichotomy." - Stephan Jay Gould

"He who has loved and who betrays love does harm not only to the image of the past, but to the past itself." - Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

"Art of using alphabets and science of using numerals are the two eyes of living human beings." - Thiruvalluvar NULL

"We are ne’er like angels till our passion dies." - Thomas Dekker

"When you find a man who knows his job and is willing to take responsibility, keep out of his way and don't bother him with unnecessary supervision. What you may think is cooperation is nothing but interference." - Thomas Dreier

"I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death." - Thomas Hobbes

"I do not have to stop the flow of events in order to understand them. On the contrary, I must move with them or else what I think I understand will be no more than an image in my own mind." - Thomas Merton

"Now here is a thing. I am in the movies. When there was so much talk of cleaning up the movies, there wasn’t a lawyer, or any other profession but what said, Why don't they clean those things up? My wife and children can't go to see 'em." - Will Rogers, fully William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers

"The Hiss Case has turned my wife and me into old people - not a disagreeable condition. But we who used to plan in terms of decades, now find a year, two years, the utmost span of time we can take in." - Whittaker Chambers, born Jay Vivian Chambers, aka Jay David Whittaker Chambers

"It is time to browse through the precious books that have meant the most to you that you may rediscover illuminating phrases and sentences to light your pathway to the future." - Wilferd Peterson, fully Wilferd Arlan Peterson

"Walking uplifts the spirit. Breathe out the poisons of tension, stress, and worry; breathe in the power of God. Send forth little silent prayers of goodwill toward those you meet. Walk with a sense of being a part of a vast universe. Consider the thousands of miles of earth beneath your feet; think of the limitless expanse of space above your head. Walk in awe, wonder, and humility. Walk at all times of day. In the early morning when the world is just waking up. Late at night under the stars. Along a busy city street at noontime." - Wilferd Peterson, fully Wilferd Arlan Peterson

"I do not want to make teaching films. If I did, I would create a separate organization. It is not higher education that interests me so much as general mass education." - Walt Disney, fully Walter Elias "Walt" Disney

"How convenient it would be to many of our great men and great families of doubtful origin, could they have the privilege of the heroes of yore, who, whenever their origin was involved in obscurity, modestly announced themselves descended from a god." - Washington Irving

"Choose independence rather than dependence." - Wayne Dyer, fully Wayne Walter Dyer

"It is impossible to spoil a child under the age of eighteen months with too much love and attention." - Wayne Dyer, fully Wayne Walter Dyer

"The components of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger do not exist independently of you in the world. They simply do not exist in the physical world, even though we talk about them as if they do." - Wayne Dyer, fully Wayne Walter Dyer

"In the effort to tell a whole story, to see it whole and clear, I have had to imagine more than I have known." - Wendell Berry

"Let me say and not mourn: the world lives in the death of speech and sings there." - Wendell Berry

"My father's father, his father's father, his— shadows like winds go back to a parent before thought, before speech, at the head of the past." - Wallace Stevens

"Cobalt is a divine color and there is nothing as fine for putting an atmosphere round things. Carmine is the red of wine and is warm and lively like wine. The same goes for emerald green too. It's false economy to dispense with them, with those colors. Cadmium as well." - Vincent van Gogh, fully Vincent Willem van Gogh

"He had lost that privilege of simple nature, the dissociation of love and pleasure. Pleasure was no longer as simple as eating; it was being complicated by love. Now was beginning that crazy loss of one's self, that neglect of everything but one's dramatic thoughts about the beloved, that feverish inner life all turning upon the [loved one]." - Thornton Wilder, fully Thornton Niven Wilder

"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! Hamlet, Act v, Scene 2" -

"Our sometime sister, now our Queen." -

"Press not a falling man too far; 'tis virtue: his faults lie open to the laws; let them, not you, correct him." -

"As the grave grows nearer my theology is growing strangely simple, and it begins and ends with Christ as the only Saviour of the lost." - Edwin Percy Whipple

"Darling, I don't want you; I've got no place for you; I only want what you give. I don't want the whole of anyone.... What you want is the whole of me-isn't it, isn't it?-and the whole of me isn't there for anybody. In that full sense you want me I don't exist." - Elizabeth Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

"Therefore to this dog will I, tenderly not scornfully, render praise and favor: with my hand upon his head, is my benediction said therefore and forever." - Elizabeth Browning, fully Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"Women know the way to rear up children (to be just); they know a simple, merry, tender knack of tying sashes, fitting baby-shoes, and stringing pretty words that make no sense, and kissing full sense into empty words; which things are corals to cut life upon, although such trifles." - Elizabeth Browning, fully Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate; As the voyage along thru life; 'Tis the will of the soul That decides its goal, And not the calm or the strife." - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

"Four be the things I'd have been better without: love, curiosity, freckles and doubt." - Dorothy Parker

"Those who are beloved cannot die, because love means immortality." - Emily Dickinson, fully Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

"I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: ''Checkout Time is 18 years.''" - Erma Bombeck, fully Erma Louise Bombeck, born Erma Fiste

"There is nothing more miserable in the world than to arrive in paradise and look like your passport photo." - Erma Bombeck, fully Erma Louise Bombeck, born Erma Fiste

"Perhaps all our lovers are merely hints and symbols; vagabond languages scrawled on gate-posts and paving stones along the weary road that others have trampled before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond each other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us." - Evelyn Waugh, fully Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh

"Live and learn and pass it on." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom." - J. R. R. Tolkien, fully John Ronald Reuel Tolkien