Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

Home / Poet / Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes
When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.
As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey.
What is a farm but a mute gospel?
Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.
The value of a dollar is social, as it is created by society.
The revelation of thought takes men out of servitude into freedom.
Cause and effect are two sides of one fact.
Everything in Nature contains all the powers of Nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.
If a man can… make a better mousetrap, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Manners require time, and nothing is more vulgar than haste.
No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.
Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.
I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A man in debt is so far a slave.
A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The only way to have a friend is to be one.
Who hears me, who understands me, becomes mine, a possession for all time.
We are symbols, and inhabit symbols.
Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The earth laughs in flowers.
Mysticism is the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul. Drawn by its severe harmony, ravished with its beauty, he lived in it and had his being there. Alone in all history, he estimated the greatness of man.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity, but in being uninteresting.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not wait long for metres.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.
Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.
I have lost my mental faculties but am perfectly well.
Getting old is a fascination thing. The older you get, the older you want to get.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.
The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.
Words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words.
O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it.
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why need I volumes, if one word suffice?
Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.
Pictures must not be too picturesque.
We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.
To be great is to be misunderstood.
A man is the whole encyclopedia of facts.
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Speak the truth, and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and the very roots of the grass underground there, do seem to stir and move to bear you witness.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Truth is the property of no individual but is the treasure of all men.
Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer. He is by constitution expensive, and needs to be rich.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual.
Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Preaching is the expression of the moral sentiment in application to the duties of life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are always getting ready to live but never living.
We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our permanent state.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.
A man is what he thinks about all day long.
Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.
The smoothest curled courtier in the boudoirs of a palace has an animal nature, rude and aboriginal as a white bear.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every artist was first an amateur.
The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Men are what their mothers made them.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every mind must make its choice between truth and repose. It cannot have both.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The age of a woman doesn't mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.
If you would lift me up you must be on higher ground.
Good is positive. Evil is merely privative, not absolute: it is like cold, which is the privation of heat. All evil is so much death or nonentity. Benevolence is absolute and real. So much benevolence as a man hath, so much life hath he.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The years teach much which the days never know.
A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is more difference in the quality of our pleasures than in the amount.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Power and speed be hands and feet.
No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.
Character is always known. Thefts never enrich; alms never impoverish; murder will speak out of stone walls.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.
Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are.
Only as far as the masters of the world have called in nature to their aid, can they reach the height of magnificence. This is the meaning of their hanging-gardens, villas, garden-houses, islands, parks, and preserves.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The highest revelation is that God is in every man.
The reason why men do not obey us, is because they see the mud at the bottom of our eye.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.
Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Great men or men of great gifts you shall easily find, but symmetrical men never.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood or appreciated.
People that seem so glorious are all show; underneath they are like everyone else.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We see God face to face every hour, and know the savor of Nature.
Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams.
What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
No man ever prayed heartily without learning something.
Happy is the hearing man; unhappy the speaking man.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is no chance and anarchy in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
Little minds have little worries, big minds have no time for worries.
We have listened too long to the courtly Muses of Europe.
The vegetable life does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that, at least one may replace the parent.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The sum of wisdom is that time is never lost that is devoted to work.
Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force – that thoughts rule the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults.
As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What we seek we shall find; what we flee from flees from us.
Science does not know its debt to imagination.
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is my desire, in the office of a Christian minister, to do nothing which I cannot do with my whole heart. Having said this, I have said all.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Good men must not obey the laws too well.
There are other measures of self-respect for a man, than the number of clean shirts he puts on every day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.
Revolutions go not backward.
We are wiser than we know.
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We must be our own before we can be another's.
Wisdom has its root in goodness, not goodness its root in wisdom.
Make yourself necessary to somebody.
As soon as there is life there is danger.
A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.
Children are all foreigners.
The method of nature: who could ever analyze it?
It is a fact often observed, that men have written good verses under the inspiration of passion, who cannot write well under other circumstances.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A man is a method, a progressive arrangement; a selecting principle, gathering his like to him; wherever he goes.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The intuition of the moral sentiment is an insight of the perfection of the laws of the soul. These laws execute themselves. They are out of time, out of space, and not subject to circumstance.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friendship, like the immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed.
People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.
Every hero becomes a bore at last.
It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A good indignation brings out all one's powers.
Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.
The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence.
Knowledge is knowing that we cannot know.
Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every wall is a door.
The fox has many tricks. The hedgehog has but one. But that is the best of all.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We acquire the strength we have overcome.
We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are as many pillows of illusion as flakes in a snow-storm. We wake from one dream into another dream.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We aim above the mark to hit the mark.
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.
Reality is a sliding door.
It is the quality of the moment, not the number of days, or events, or of actors, that imports.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The search after the great men is the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
If the tongue had not been framed for articulation, man would still be a beast in the forest.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A more secret, sweet, and overpowering beauty appears to man when his heart and mind open to the sentiment of virtue.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense.
I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.
The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier.
When we quarrel, how we wish we had been blameless.
Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
We are a puny and fickle folk. Avarice, hesitation, and following are our diseases.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before.
There is always safety in valor.
People with great gifts are easy to find, but symmetrical and balanced ones never.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.
The value of a principle is the number of things it will explain.
The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.
Do the thing we fear, and death of fear is certain.
A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we awake from dreams.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
God enters by a private door into every individual.
Nature hates calculators.
There is an optical illusion about every person we meet.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.
A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.
Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one's self?
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The first wealth is health.
All mankind love a lover.
Always do what you are afraid to do.
Life is our dictionary.
It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The martyr cannot be dishonored. Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame; every prison a more illustrious abode.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have no hostility to nature, but a child's love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, 'always do what you are afraid to do.'
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Money often costs too much.
Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.
Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.
As we are, so we associate. The good, by affinity, seek the good; the vile, by affinity, the vile. Thus of their own volition, souls proceed into Heaven, into Hell.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have thought a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The best effort of a fine person is felt after we have left their presence.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We gain the strength of the temptation we resist.
Our best thoughts come from others.
Every experiment, by multitudes or by individuals, that has a sensual and selfish aim, will fail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A great man is always willing to be little.
We do not yet possess ourselves, and we know at the same time that we are much more.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
People disparage knowing and the intellectual life, and urge doing. I am content with knowing, if only I could know.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
America is another name for opportunity.
In every society some men are born to rule, and some to advise.
A man is usually more careful of his money than he is of his principles.
One must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every burned book enlightens the world.
Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul. Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the 'Not Me,' that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, 'Nature.'
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.
If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every fact is related on one side to sensation, and, on the other, to morals. The game of thought is, on the appearance of one of these two sides, to find the other: given the upper, to find the under side.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Genius always finds itself a century too early.
Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Without electricity, the air would rot.
The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.
All diseases run into one, old age.
As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.
For every benefit you receive a tax is levied.
Every known fact in natural science was divined by the presentiment of somebody, before it was actually verified.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
People only see what they are prepared to see.
The desire of gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey laws too well.
Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think we must get rid of slavery, or we must get rid of freedom.
There is a tendency for things to right themselves.
It is not length of life, but depth of life.
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.
Wherever the invitation of men or your own occasions lead you, speak the very truth, as your life and conscience teach it, and cheer the waiting, fainting hearts of men with new hope and new revelation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Men's actions are too strong for them. Show me a man who has acted, and who has not been the victim and slave of his action.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Beauty is an outward gift, which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some books leave us free and some books make us free.
Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.
Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every spirit makes its house, and we can give a shrewd guess from the house to the inhabitant.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
God screens us evermore from premature ideas.
Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.
Give a boy address and accomplishments and you give him the mastery of palaces and fortunes where he goes.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Doing well is the result of doing good. That's what capitalism is all about.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What you are comes to you.
Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying.
Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.
The ancestor of every action is a thought.
Nothing external to you has any power over you.
The reward of a thing well done is having done it.
Truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it, else it is none.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.
The faith that stands on authority is not faith.
In all my lectures, I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every sentence spoken by Napoleon, and every line of his writing, deserves reading, as it is the sense of France.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is a blessed necessity by which the interest of men is always driving them to the right; and, again, making all crime mean and ugly.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Great hearts steadily send forth the secret forces that incessantly draw great events.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.
Fine manners need the support of fine manners in others.
Beauty without expression is boring.
He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hitch your wagon to a star.
People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.
The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
Nature is the incarnation of thought. The world is the mind precipitated.
Every man I meet is in some way my superior.