A Bunch of Meaningful Quotes

I found these while using StumbleUpon (which I now hear is available for both Firefox and IE7) and thought “Why not?” History and literature are littered with deep quotes from people who had the audacity to think. These are but a few.

I think, therefore I am.
— Rene Descartes

The unexamined life is not worth living.
— Socrates (470-399 B.C.E.)

The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
— Linus Pauling

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
— Albert Einstein

Think for yourselves and let others
enjoy the privilege to do so, too.
— Voltaire

My strength lies mainly in my tenacity.
— Louis Pasteur

I find that the harder I work,
the more luck I seem to have.
— Thomas Jefferson

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
— Calvin Coolidge

And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.
— John VII

Only the educated are free.
— Epictetus

“There was a star danced, and under that was I born.”
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Twelfth-Night, II, i, 351
(for my niece, Halley, who was born in December, 1985)

“For rigorous teachers seized my youth,
And purged its faith, and trimmed its fire,
Showed me the high, white star of Truth,
There bade me gaze, and there aspire.”
— Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
— Mark Twain (1835-1910)

When I was a boy of fourteen my father was so ignorant
I could hardly stand to have the old man around.
But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished
at how much he had learned in seven years.
— Mark Twain

A large part of [the purpose] of education may well be
what men have most feared and most desired —
the achievement of moments of ecstasy.
— George Leonard

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God
who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect
has intended us to forgo their use.
— Galileo Galilei

The universe is full of magical things
patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
— Bertrand Russell

“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to
have been only a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in
now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than
ordinary. Whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
— Isaac Newton


To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you
have lived. This is to have succeeded.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and love.
— William Wordsworth

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
— Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

We succeeded in taking that picture [of Earth from deep space], and,
if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us…
on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the
rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in
glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a
fraction of a dot…Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the
delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are
challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In
our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help
will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.
It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a
character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better
demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image
of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal
more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and
cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
— Carl Sagan (1934-1996), Reflections on a Mote of Dust
(an image of Earth taken by Voyager 1 from the edge of
the Solar System)

To sit alone with my conscience
will be judgement enough for me.
— Charles William Stubbs

I am not an Athenian or a Greek,
I am a citizen of the world.
— Socrates

Am I not destroying my enemies
when I make friends of them?
— Abraham Lincoln

Do not regret growing older.
It is a privilege denied to many.
— unknown

Far and away the best prize that life offers
is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
— Theodore Roosevelt

It is well to remember that the entire universe,
with one trifling exception, is composed of others.
— John Andrew Holmes

At the heart of science is an essential tension between
two seemingly contradictory attitudes — an openness to
new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive
they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny
of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are
winnowed from deep nonsense. Of course, scientists make
mistakes in trying to understand the world, but there
is a built-in error-correcting mechanism: The collective
enterprise of creative thinking and skeptical thinking
together keeps the field on track.
— Carl Sagan, “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,”
Parade, February 1, 1987

I’m often asked the question, “Do you think there is
extraterrestrial intelligence?” I give the standard arguments
— there are a lot of places out there, and use the word *billions*,
and so on. And then I say it would be astonishing to me if there
weren’t extraterrestrial intelligence, but of course there is as
yet no compelling evidence for it. And then I’m asked, “Yeah,
but what’s your gut feeling?” But I try not to think with my gut.
Really, it’s okay to reserve judgment until the evidence is in.
— Carl Sagan, The Burden Of Skepticism,
The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 12, Fall 87

To make an apple pie from scratch,
you must first invent the universe.
— Carl Sagan

One ship drives east and the other drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sails and not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
— Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Winds of Fate

If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears,
however measured or far away.
— Henry David Thoreau

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I…
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost

You think the only people who are people,
Are the ones who look and think the way you do,
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,
You’ll learn the things you never knew you never knew…
You can own the Earth and still,
All you’ll own is earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind.
— Stephen Schwartz, Colors of the Wind

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
And may you stay forever young
— Bob Dylan, Forever Young

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.
— Robert Frost

This is the way the world ends,
not with a bang but a whimper.
— T.S. Eliot


“There’s no roof that has not a star above it.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

“I saw tonight in the observatory, through Alvan Clark’s telescope,
the Dumb-Bell nebula in the Fox and Geese Constellation…
I have rarely been so much gratified…
Of all tools, an observatory is the most sublime…
What is so good in a college as an observatory?
The sublime attaches to the door and to the first stair
as you ascend; – that this is the road to the stars.
Every fixture and instrument in the building, every nail and pin,
has a direct reference to the Milky Way, the fixed stars, and the nebulae,
and we leave … the Americas and history at the door when we come in.

— from the journal of Ralph Waldo Emerson, November 14, 1865

“Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!”
— Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), The Starlight Night

“No one regards what is before his feet; we all gaze at the stars”
— Quintus Ennius (239-169 B.C.),
Iphigenia, from CICERO, De Divinatione, bk. II, ch. 13

“Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky,
Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.”
— Jane Taylor (1783-1824), Rhymes for the Nursery [1806], The Star

“Sweet the coming on
Of grateful ev’ning mild, then silent night
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heaven, her starry train.”
— John Milton (1608-1674), Paradise Lost

“To man, that was in th’ evening made,
Stars gave the first delight.
Admiring, in the gloomy shade,
Those little drops of light.”
— Edmund Waller (1606-1687)

“Apply now, we entreat, your mind to true reason. For a new question struggles
earnestly to gain your ears, a new aspect of things to display itself…
Look up at the brightand unsullied hue of heavens and the stars which it
holds within it, wandering all about, and the moon and the sun’s light
of dazzling brilliancy: if all these things were now for the first time,
if I say they were now suddenly presented to mortals beyond all expectation,
what could have been named that would be more marvellous than these things…
In the first place we see that round in all directions, about, above, and
underneath, throughout the universe there is no bound…in the nature of
bottomless space….
Well then if on the one hand there is so great a store of seeds as the
whole life of living creatures cannot reckon up, and if the same force and
nature abide in them and have the power to throw the seeds of things
together into their several places in our world, you must admit that in
other parts of space there are other earths and various races of men and
kinds of wild beasts.”
— The Roman poet Lucretius (c. 98 – c. 55 B.C.),
“On the Nature of Things”, book II, lines 1023 – 1076)

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer
where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired, and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
— Walt Whitman, When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer, 1865

“Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the Universe.
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the Universe.
Jai Guru De Va Om. Nothing’s gonna change my world.”
— John Lennon, Across the Universe

“Satellites gone up to the sky.
Things like that drive me out of my mind.
I watched it for a little while.
I love to watch things on TV.
Satellite of Love.
Satellites gone, way up to Mars.
Soon it will be filled with parking cars.
I watched it for a little while.
I like to watch things on TV.
Satellite of Love.”
— Lou Reed, Satellite of Love


In this galaxy,
I looked for a man who knew the temperatures of stars;
one who could draw rings around Saturn with a fine pen,
and would sleep with me as if a shower of meteors was
a common occurence around the bed each night.
But love and science — they are both gambles;
and if you try to win the sun’s light,
you must be prepared also to lose every day.
— Diane Wakowski, read by Julie Ayers on
May 21, 1988 in Stillwater, Minnesota

An ode to my favorite astronomer,
since you are the only on I know…
but then how could a girl in love with the sun,
who fancies herself the moon, how could she not
fall in love with the natural historian,
the one who defines her life?
This is a rhetorical question like,
“Will the sun rise tomorrow?”, or,
“Is the snow cold?”, or,
“Do you remember my name?
— Diane Wakowski

Was she so loved because her eyes were so beautiful
or were her eyes so beautiful because she was loved?
— Anzia Yezierska

“I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low
And the stars are shining bright.”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), The Indian Serenade

“It were all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.”
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Twelfth-Night, I, i, 97

“When I behold, upon the nights’ starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance.”
— John Keats (1795-1821), Sonnet, When I Have Fears

“What is love?…It is the morning and the evening star.”
— Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), Elmer Gantry [1927]

Till we watch the last low star,
Let us love and let us take
Of each other all we are.
On some morning with that star
One of us shall lie awake,
Lonely for the other’s sake.
— Witter Bynner, A Tent Song, 1917


“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
Best Loved Poems of the American People, 1936

“It ended…
With his body changed to light,
A star that burns forever in that sky.”
Anonymous: North American Indian
— The Flight of Quetzalcoatl

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Romeo and Juliet III, ii, 21

“When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed,
And the great star early drooped in the
western sky in the night,
I mourned, and yet shall mourn with ever-
returning spring.”
— Walt Whitman (1819-1892), Leaves of Grass

CALPURNIA: When beggars die, there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.

“Suns haste to set, that so remoter lights
Beckon the wanderer to his vaster home.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Still through the dusk of dead, blank-legended
And unremunerative years we search
To get where life begins, and still we groan
Because we do not find the living spark
Where no spark ever was; and thus we die,
Still searching, like poor old astronomers
Who totter off to bed and go to sleep,
To dream of untriangulated stars.”
— Edward Arlington Robinson, Octaves XI (1890-1897)

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of, wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
— “High Flight”, by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.,
(killed in the Battle of Britain, age 19)


Where there is no vision, the people perish.
— Proverbs 29:18.

Man’s mind and spirit grow with the space in which
they are allowed to operate.
— Krafft A. Ehricke, rocket pioneer

The committee judged the promises and offers of this mission to be
impossible, vain, and worthy of rejection: that (it) was not proper to
favor an affair that rested on such weak foundations and which
appeared uncertain and impossible…
— Talavera Commission, 1491, turning down Christopher Columbus’
proposal for finding a new trade route to the Indies.
Queen Isabella of Spain later funded the project.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
— T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Some people see things as they are and ask ‘Why?’;
I dream things that never were and ask ‘Why not?’
— George Bernard Shaw (and RFK)

For I dipped into the Future, far as human eye could see; saw the
vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1842

Give me a lever long enough, and a prop strong enough.
I can single-handed move the world.
Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth.
— Archimedes (287-212 B.C.E.)

There shall be wings!
If the accomplishment be not for me, ’tis for some other.
The spirit cannot die; and man,
who shall know all and shall have wings…
— Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

First I believe that this Nation should commit itself
to achieving the goal, before this decade is out,
of landing a man on the Moon…
— John F. Kennedy, May 24, 1961

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal?
And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain?
Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon.
We choose to go to the moon in this decade,
and to do the other things, not because they are easy
but because they are hard.
— John F. Kennedy, 1962

BUZZ ALDRIN: “…contact light.
Okay, engine stop, ACA out of detent.”
ALDRIN: “Mode controls both auto,
descent engine command override, off.
Engine arm off. 413 is in.”
CAPCOM(DUKE): “We copy you down, Eagle.”
ARMSTRONG: “Houston, Tranquility Base here.
The Eagle has Landed.”
CAPCOM(DUKE): “Roger Tranquility.
We copy you on the ground.
You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue.
We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”
ALDRIN: “Thank you.”

— Buzz Aldrin, Neill Armstrong,
First words spoken from the surface of the Moon, July 1969

Here men from the planet Earth
first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D.
— Apollo 11 plaque left on Moon.

Because of what you have done
the heavens have become part of man’s world…
For one priceless moment in the whole history of man
all of the people on this Earth are truly one.
— President Richard M. Nixon (on first lunar landing.)

I urge you to dream — I did, and one day
I found myself standing on the surface of the moon.
— Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan

To set foot on the soil of the asteroids,
to lift by hand a rock from the Moon,
to observe Mars from a distance of several tens of kilometers,
to land on its satellite or even on its surface,
what can be more fantastic?
From the moment of using rocket devices
a new great era will begin in astronomy:
the epoch of the more intensive study of the firmament.
— Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, Father of Russian Astronautics, 1896

Whether outwardly or inwardly,
whether in space or time,
the farther we penetrate the unknown,
the vaster and more marvelous it becomes.
— Charles A. Lindbergh’s “Autobiography of Values.”

It is the policy of the United States that activities in space
should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.
— Space Act of 1958

The only weapon we have to oppose the bad effects of technology is
technology itself. There is no other. We can’t retreat into a
nontechnological Eden which never existed…It is only by the rational
use of technology, to control and guide what technology is doing, that
we can keep any hopes of a social life more desireable than our own:
or in fact of a social life which is not appalling to imagine.
— C. P. Snow

“We cannot simultaneously prepare for and prevent war.”
— Albert Einstein


Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, that’s the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Meade

“He who exercises government by means of his virtue
may be compared to the north polar star, which
keeps its place and all the stars turn toward it.”
— Confucious (551-479 B.C.), The Confucian Analects, bk. 1:3

Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion
and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage.
But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to
solve the truly serious problems that face us — and we risk becoming a
nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.
— Carl Sagan, “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,”
Parade, 1 Feb 1987

“But I am as constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.”
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Julius Caesar

First they went after the Communists,
and I did not stand up, because I was not a Communist.
Then they went after the homosexuals and infirm,
and I did not stand up, because I was neither.
Then they went after the Jews,
and I did not stand up, because I was not a Jew.
Then they went after the Catholics,
and I did not stand up, because I was Protestant.
Finally, they went after me,
and there was no one left to stand up for me.
— Pastor Martin Neimoller


In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void;
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good:
and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
And the evening and the morning were the first day….

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven
to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs,
and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven
to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
And God made two great lights;
the greater light to rule the day,
and the lesser light to rule the night:
he made the stars also.
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven
to give light upon the earth,
And to rule over the day and over the night,
and to divide the light from the darkness:
and God saw that it was good.
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
— Genesis 1 (English-KJV)

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem
of Judea in the days of Herod the King,
behold, there came wise men from the
east to Jerusalem, saying,
Where is he that is born King of the Jews?
for we have seen his star in the east, and
are come to worship him.”
— Matthew 2:1-2

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star,
which they saw in the east, went before them,
till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
— Matthew 2:9 (English-KJV)

This is my chosen fast:
to loosen all the bonds that bind men unfairly,
to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke.
Share your bread with the hungry,
take the homeless into your home.
Clothe the naked when you see him,
do not turn away from people in need. . . .
If you remove from your midst the yoke of oppression,
the finger of scorn and the tongue of malice,
if you put yourself out for the hungry and relieve the wretched,
then shall your light shine in darkness,
and your gloom shall be as noonday. . . .
And you shall be like a watered garden,
like a never-failing spring.
And you shall rebuild ancient ruins,
restoring old foundations.
You shall be known as the rebuilder of broken walls,
the restorer of dwelling places.
— Book of Isaiah

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