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Welcome to our quotes collection of the 501 best Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes. We hope you enjoy them!

Wikipedia Summary for Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882), who went by his middle name Waldo, was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay "Nature". Following this work, he gave a speech entitled "The American Scholar" in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered to be America's "intellectual Declaration of Independence."Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first and then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays, Essays: First Series (1841) and Essays: Second Series (1844), represent the core of his thinking. They include the well-known essays "Self-Reliance", "The Over-Soul", "Circles", "The Poet", and "Experience." Together with "Nature", these essays made the decade from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson's most fertile period.

Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for mankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson's "nature" was more philosophical than naturalistic: "Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul." Emerson is one of several figures who "took a more pantheist or pandeist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world."He remains among the linchpins of the American romantic movement, and his work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that followed him. "In all my lectures," he wrote, "I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man." Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of Henry David Thoreau, a fellow transcendentalist. in 1867, he was elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society.

photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Self trust is the first secret of success.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

To fill the hour--that is happiness.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

To fill the hour; that is happiness to fill the hour, and leave no crevice for a repentance or an approval.


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The language of the street is always strong.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Beware of jokes from which we go away hollow and ashamed.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

My evening visitors, if they cannot see the clock, should find the time in my face.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Every man's Reason is sufficient for his guidance, if used.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

I have thought that a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

What we call results are beginnings.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The street is full of humiliations to the proud.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

We aim above the mark to hit the mark.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

It was high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, 'Always do what you are afraid to do.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

First be a good animal.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

We do not quite forgive a giver. The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

We do not quite forgive a giver. The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten. We can receive anything from love, forthat is a way of receiving it from ourselves; but not from any one who assumes to bestow. We sometimes hate the meat which we eat, because there seems something of degrading dependence in living it.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Marriage is the perfection of what love aimed at, ignorant of what it sought.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Men love to wonder and that is the seed of our science.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of our science, and such is the mechanical determination of our age, and so recent are our best contrivances, that use has not dulled our joy and pride in them. These arts open great gates of a future, promising to make the world plastic and to lift human life out of its beggary to a godlike ease and power.


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A man must ride alternately on the horses of his private and his public nature.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me. Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a stone; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing.


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Every man has his own vocation, talent is the call.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Imagination is not a talent of some people but is the health of everyone.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

A scholar is a candle which the love and desire of all men will light.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Concentration is the secret of strength.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short in all management of human affairs.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can't hear what you're saying.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

If you learn only methods, you'll be tied to your methods but if you learn principles you can devise your own methods.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Character is an invincible force, which acts by presence and without means.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

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

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

When it is darkest, men see the stars.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

One thing in the world, of value, is the active soul.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Do not waste yourself in rejection; do not bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Astrology is astronomy brought down to Earth and applied toward the affairs of men.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Sometimes we receive the power to say yes to life. Then peace enters us and makes us whole.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Let us take our bloated nothingness out of the path of the divine circuits.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

History -- a biography of a few stout and earnest persons.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Happy will that house be in which the relationships are formed from character.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

Happy will that house be in which the relations are formed from character; after the highest, and not after the lowest order; the house in which character marries, and not confusion and a miscellany of unavowable motives.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Pride ruined the angels.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

Pride ruined the angels, Their shame them restores; And the joy that is sweetest Lurks in stings of remorse.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Nature is reckless of the individual. When she has points to carry, she carries them.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Intellect annuls fate. So far as a man thinks, he is free.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

For Destiny never swerves nor yields to men the helm.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Be an opener of doors.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

If a man owns land, the land owns him.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Tis curious that we only believe as deeply as we live.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Man is a piece of the universe made alive.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

What is originality? It is being one's self, and reporting accurately what we see and are.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Accuracy is essential to beauty.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

No book was ever written down by any but itself.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Every advantage has its tax.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Philanthropic and religious bodies do not commonly make their executive officers out of saints.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Talent may frolic and juggle; genius realizes and adds.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Life is not measured by its length, but by its depth.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Truth is the summit of being; justice is the application of it to affairs.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Nature is upheld by antagonism.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

Nature is upheld by antagonism. Passions, resistance, danger, are educators. We acquire the strength we have overcome.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The blazing evidence of immortality is our dissatisfaction with any other solution.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like the bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

It is a capital blunder; as you discover, when another man recites his charities.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Everything in nature is bipolar, or has a positive and a negative pole.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The brevity of human life gives a melancholy to the profession of the architect.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Spartans, stoics, heroes, saints and gods use short and positive speech.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Society has no bribe for me.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

When all shoot at one mark, the gods join in the combat.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

There are men too superior to be seen except by a few, as there are notes too high for the scale of most ears.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The life of man is a self-evolving circle.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end. The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual soul.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Surely nobody would be a charlatan, who could afford to be sincere.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

That which dominates our imagination and our thoughts will determine our life and character.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The civility of no race can be perfect whilst another race is degraded.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

The civility of no race can be perfect whilst another race is degraded. It is a doctrine alike of the oldest and of the newest philosophy, that man is one, and that you cannot injure any member, without a sympathetic injury to all the members.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The sensual man conforms thoughts to things;
the poet conforms things to his thoughts.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The great majority of men grow up and grow old in seeming and following.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Friendship should be surrounded with ceremonies and respects, and not crushed into corners.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Prayer that craves a particular commodity, anything less than all good, is vicious.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

Prayer that craves a particular commodity—anything less than all good, is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is theft and meanness. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg.


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The sign and credentials of the poet are that he announces that which no man foretold.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

It depends little on the object, much on the mood, in art.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Wild liberty develops iron conscience. Want of liberty, by strengthening law and decorum, stupefies conscience.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The most dangerous thing is illusion.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The first point of courtesy must always be truth.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

No man gains credit for his cowardly courtesies.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The best of life is conversation.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

The best of life is conversation, and the greatest success is confidence, or perfect understanding between sincere people.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

The compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

There is no good theory of disease which does not at once suggest a cure.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Popularity is for dolls.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Knowledge, Virtue, Power are the victories of man over his necessities, his march to the dominion of the world.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

My doom and my strength is to be solitary.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The best part of health is fine disposition.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Looking at God instantly reduces our disposition to dissent from our brother.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The right eloquence needs no bell to call the people together, and no constable to keep them.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

There is no eloquence without a man behind it.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Eloquence shows the power and possibility of man.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

lEloquence shows the power and possibility of man. There is one of whom we took no note, but on a certain occasion it appears that he has a secret virtue never suspected - that he can paint what has occurred and what must occur, with such clearness to a company, as if they saw it done before their eyes. By leading their thought he leads their will, and can make them do gladly what an hour ago they would not believe that they could be led to do at all.


photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Every man is a channel through which heaven floweth.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

There is no strong performance without a little fanaticism in the performer.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Go where there is no path and leave a trail.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

There can be no excess to love, none to knowledge, none to beauty.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

We sometimes meet an original gentleman, who, if manners had not existed, would have invented them.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Nature ever faithful is
To such as trust her faithfulness.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

Life is a festival only to the wise.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

Life is a festival only to the wise. Seen from the nook and chimneyside of prudence, it wears a ragged and dangerous front.


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Love is the bright foreigner, the foreign self.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson
photo of author Ralph Waldo Emerson with quote

The frost which kills the harvest of a year saves the harvest of a century, by destroying the weevil or the locust.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Longer Version:

The frost which kills the harvest of a year, saves the harvests of a century, by destroying the weevil or the locust. Wars, fires, plagues, break up immovable routine, clear the ground of rotten races and dens of distemper, and open a fair field to new men. There is a tendency in things to right themselves, and the war or revolution or bankruptcy that shatters a rotten system, allows things to take a new and natural order. The sharpest evils are bent into that periodicity which makes the errors of planets, and the fevers and distempers of men, self-limiting. Nature is upheld by antagonism. Passions, resistance, danger, are educators. We acquire the strength we have overcome. Without war, no soldier; without enemies, no hero.


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Heaven is large, and affords space for all modes of love and fortitude.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

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