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Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes


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In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.
[Art]
 

In different hours, a man represents each of several of his ancestors, as if there were seven or eight of us rolled up in each man's skin, - seven or eight ancestors at least, - and they constitute the variety of notes for that new piece of music which his life is.
 

In every society some men are born to rule, and some to advise.
 

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
[Genius]
 

In how many churches, by how many prophets, tell me, is man made sensible that he is an infinite Soul; that the earth and heavens are passing into his mind; that he is drinking forever the soul of God?
 

In literature, quotation is good only when the writer whom I follow goes my way, and, being better mounted than I, gives me a cast, as we say; but if I like the gay equipage so well as to go out of my road, I had better have gone afoot.
[Quotations]
 

in mankind, so that the power of a wafer, or a drop of wax guards a letter, as it flies over sea and land, and bears it to its address as if a battalion of artillery had brought it, I look upon as a first measure of civilization.
[Civilization]
 

In nature, nothing can be given, all things are sold.
 

In sculpture did any one ever call the Apollo a fancy piece; or say of the Laocoon how it might be made different? - A masterpiece of art has, to the mind, a fixed place in the chain of being, as much as a plant or a crystal.
[Art]
 

In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.
 

In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.
 

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

In this great society wide lying around us, a critical analysis would find very few spontaneous actions. It is almost all custom and gross sense.
 

In youth, we clothe ourselves with rainbows, and go as brave as the zodiac. In age, we put out another sort of perspiration - gout, fever, rheumatism, caprice, doubt, fretting, avarice.
[Age]
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Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous half-possession. That which each can do best none but his Maker can teach him.
[Imitation]
 

Insist on yourself; never imitate... Every great man is unique.
 

Intellect lies behind genius, which is intellect constructive. - Intellect is the simple power, anterior to all action or construction.
[Intellect]
 

Is not marriage an open question, when it is alleged, from the beginning of the world, that such as are in the institution wish to get out, and such as are out wish to get in?
[Marriage]
 

Is not prayer a study of truth, a sally of the soul into the unfound infinite? - No man ever prayed heartily without learning something.
[Prayer]
 

It has come to be practically a sort of rule in literature, that a man, having once shown himself capable of original writing, is entitled, thenceforth, to steal from the writings of others at discretion. Thought is the property of him who can entertain it and of him who can adequately place it. - A certain awkwardness marks the use of borrowed thoughts; but as soon as we have learned what to do with them, they become our own.
[Plagiarism]
 


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