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The hero is not fed on sweets,
Daily his own heart he eats.


Night-dreams trace on Memory's wall
Shadows of the thoughts of day,
And thy fortunes, as they fall,
The bias of the will betray.


Love on his errand bound to go
Can swim the flood and wade through snow,
Where way is none, 't will creep and wind
And eat through Alps its home to find.


The soul of God is poured into the world through the thoughts of men.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, lecture, Nov. 18, 1862

We sink to rise.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Letters and Social Aims

All successful men have agreed in one thing--they were causationists. They believed that things went not by luck, but by law; that there was not a weak or a cracked link in the chain that joins the first and last of things. A belief in causality, or strict connection between every trifle and the principle of being, and, in consequence, belief in compensation, or, that nothing is got for nothing--characterizes all valuable minds, and must control every effort that is made by an industrious one. The most valiant men are the best believers in the tension of the laws.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Conduct of Life

The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "Character," The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Want is a growing giant whom the coat of have was never large enough to cover.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Conduct of Life

I think, I find the causes of a decaying church and a wasting unbelief. And what greater calamity can fall upon a nation, than the loss of worship? Then all things go to decay. Genius leaves the temple, to haunt the senate, or the market. Literature becomes frivolous. Science is cold. The eye of youth is not lighted by the hope of other worlds, and age is without honor. Society lives to trifles, and when men die, we do not mention them.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, an address to the senior class at Divinity College, Cambridge, July 15, 1838

We acquire the strength we have overcome.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Conduct of Life

When a whole nation is roaring patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, journal entry, Dec. 10, 1824

Shallow men believe in luck ... strong men believe in cause and effect.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Conduct of Life

The restraining grace of common sense is the mark of all valid minds.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Letters and Social Aims

The first farmer was the first man, and all historic nobility rests on possession and use of land.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "Farming", Society and Solitude

In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks

Greek architecture is the perfect flowering of geometry.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, attributed, Day's Collacon

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Conduct of Life

The instincts of the ant are very unimportant, considered as the ants; but the moment a ray of relation is seen to be a monitor, a little body with a mighty heart, then all its habits, even that said to be recently observed, that it never sleeps, become sublime.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "Language", English Traits

In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Nature and Selected Essays

Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Letters and Social Aims

As the eye is the best composer, so light is the first of painters. There is no object so foul that intense light will not make beautiful; and the stimulous it affords to the sense, and a sort of infinitude which it hath like space and time, make all matter gay.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "Nature", Essays and Lectures

The thirst for adventure is the vent which Destiny offers; a war, a crusade, a gold mine, a new country, speak to the imagination and offer swing and play to the confined powers.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Natural History of Intellect

When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, attributed, Walk to Win

Give me wine to wash me clean
Of the weather-stains of cares.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "From the Persian of Hafiz", Poems

The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.


The god of Victory is said to be one-handed, but Peace gives victory to both sides.


Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Letters and Social Aims

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.


Science corrects the old creeds, sweeps away, with every new perception, our infantile catechisms, and necessitates a faith commensurate with the grander orbits and universal laws which it discloses.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Address read before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge, July 18, 1867

The growth of the intellect is spontaneous in every expansion; the mind that grows could not predict the time, the means, the mode of that spontaneity; God enters by a private door into every individual.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "Intellect", Essays

The revelation of thought takes men out of servitude into freedom.


Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.


If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Nature and Selected Essays

Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.


The secrets of life are not shown except to sympathy and likeness.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Representative Men

The two parties which divide the state, the party of Conservatism and that of Innovation, are very old, and have disputed the possession of the world ever since it was made.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, lecture delivered at the Masonic Temple in Boston, Massachusetts, December 9, 1841

The saint and poet seek privacy to ends the most public and universal: and it is the secret of culture, to interest the man more in his public, than in his private quality.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "Culture", The Conduct of Life

The thing done avails, and not what is said about it. An original sentence, a step forward, is worth more than all the censures.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "First Visit to England", English Traits

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Emerson in His Journals

No picture of life can have any veracity that does not admit the odious facts. A man's power is hooped in by necessity, which by many experiments, he touches on every side, until he learns its arc.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Conduct of Life

Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long that they have come to esteem the religious, learned and civil institutions as guards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be assaults on property. They measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is.


For the world was built in order
And the atoms march in tune;
Rhyme the pipe, and Time the warder,
The sun obeys them, and the moon.


Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library; a company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, have set in best order the results of their learning.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, In Praise of Books: A Vade Mecum for Book-lovers


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