Saturday, May 26, 2012


Quotations from Emerson

Yesterday was the birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson who was born 209 years ago.  To celebrate his birth I have reprinted fifteen quotations of his on a variety of subjects.  The list could have gone on and on for pages as he was an eloquent writer and quotable thinker.  Interestingly, perhaps the most famous quote from his writings and one which is often misquoted is not on the list below. So I will begin the list with that quotation as an epigraph.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, First Series, "Self-Reliance")

1. Individualism
“Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.”
2. Groupthink
“A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.”
3. Greatness with gusto
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
4. Poem within a poem
“Every poem must be made up of lines that are poems.”
5. Hope
 “When it is darkest, men see the stars.”
6. Over-preparation
“We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”
7. Be distinct
“Insist on yourself; never imitate.”
8. In the rough
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered.”
9. Self-rewarding
"The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” 
10. Individual thresholds
“We boil at different degrees.”
11. Touchy subjects
“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.”
12. Ordinary heroes
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.” 
13. The downside
“To be great is to be misunderstood.”
14. Inner strength
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
15. Pioneering
“Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee, and do not try to make the universe a blind alley.”

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