Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Hitch your wagon to a star.
Society and Solitude, "Civilization" (1870)

A highly endowed man with good intellect & good conscience is a Man-woman
& does not so much need the complement of Woman to his being, as another.
Hence his relations to the sex are somewhat dislocated & unsatisfactory.
He asks in Woman, sometimes the Woman, sometimes the Man.
Journals, June 14, 1842

Beauty is a ticket of admission to all spectacles, to all hospitality.
Beauty is welcome as the sun wherever it please to shine, & pleases
every body with it & with themselves.
Journals, October 27, 1837

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us, or we find it not.
Essays: First Series, "Art" (1841)

Make your own Bible. Select & Collect all those words & sentences that in all your reading have been to you like the blast of trumpet out of Shakspear, Seneca, Moses, John, & Paul.
Journals, July 1836

In Spenser (Book III Canto XI) is the Castle of Busyrane on whose gate is writ Be bold, on the second gate, Be bold, be bold, and the inner iron door, Be not too bold...
Journals, Sept.-Oct. 1845

My book should smell of pines and resound with the hum of insects.
Essays: First Series, "Self-Reliance" (1841)

It is with a good book as it is with good company.
Essays: First Series, "Spiritual Laws" (1841)

Away with your prismatics, I want a spermatic book.
Plato, Plotinus, & Plutarch are such.
Journals, March 1841

I would have my book read as I have read my favorite books not with explosion & astonishment, a marvel and a rocket, but a friendly & agreeable influence stealing like the scent of a flower or the sight of a new landscape on a traveller.
Journals, October 1841

The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second;
and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.
It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world.
Essays: First Series, "Circles" (1841)

Conversation is a game of circles. In conversation we pluck up
the termini which bound the common of silence on every side.
Essays: First Series, "Circles" (1841)

Great conversation... requires an absolute running of two souls into one.
Essays: First Series, "Friendship" (1841)

There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
Journals, October 29-30, 1836

I said when I awoke, After some more sleepings & wakings I shall lie on this mattress sick; then dead; and through my glad entry they will carry these bones. Where shall I be then? I lift my head and beheld the spotless orange light of the morning beaming up from the dark hills into the wide Universe.
Journals, October 21, 1837

What is Death? I see nothing to help beyond observing what the mind's habit is in regard to that crisis. Simply, I have nothing to do with it. It is nothing to me.
Journals, October 28, 1837

Life & Death are apparitions... I taste therefore of eternity & pronounce of eternal law Now & not hereafter. Space & time are but forms of thought. I proceed from God now & ever shall so proceed. Death is but an appearance.
Journals, May 14, 1838

The things taught in schools & colleges are not
an education but the means of education.
Journals, July 15, 1831

Education is the drawing out the Soul.
Journals, September 13, 1831

We are all boarders at one table—
White man, black man, ox and eagle, bee, & worm.
Journals, July 13-14, 1840

The years teach much which the days never know.
Essays: Second Series, "Experience" (1844)

Resources or feats. I like people who can do things. When Edward & I struggled in vain to drag our big calf into the barn, the Irish girl put her finger into the calf's mouth, & led her in directly. When you find your boat full of water at the shore of the pond & strive to drag it ashore to empty it, Tom puts a round stick underneath, & 'tis on wheels directly.
Journals, May 25, 1862 (on his 59th birthday)

The eye is the best of artists.
Nature, Ch. 3 (1836, revised 1849)

The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second;
and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.
It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world.
Essays: First Series, "Circles" (1841)

In short there ought to be no such thing as Fate. As long as we use this word,
it is a sign of our impotence & that we are not yet ourselves. I believe in Fate.
As long as I am weak, I shall talk of Fate; whenever the God fills me with his
fulness, I shall see the disappearance of Fate. I am Defeated all the time;
yet to Victory I am born.
Journals, April 6-12, 1842

The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one. Essays: First Series, "Friendship" (1841)

Would you know a man's thoughts— look at the circle of his friends, and you know all he likes to think of. Well, is the life of the Boston patrician so desireable, when you see the graceful fools who make all his company?
Journals, Feb. 1854

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature.
Essays: First Series, "Friendship" (1841)

A friendship is good which begins on sentiment & proceeds into all mutual convenience and alternation of great benefits. Less good that which begins in commodity & proceeds to sentiment.
Journals, October 27, 1837

God cannot be intellectually discerned.
Journals, July 21, 1831

The only straight line in nature that I remember is the spider swinging down from a twig. The rainbow & the horizon seen at sea are good curves. The hair on a cat's back is a straight line...
Journals, Sept.-Nov. 1843

Hard as it is to describe God, it is harder to describe the Individual. A certain wandering light comes to me which I instantly perceive to be the Cause of Causes. It transcends all proving. It is itself the ground of being; and I see that it is not one & I another, but this is the life of my life. That is one fact, then; that in certain moments I have known that I existed directly from God, and am, as it were, his organ. And in my ultimate consciousness Am He.
Journal, May 26, 1837

The love that is in me, the justice, the truth can never die & that is all of me that will not die. All the rest of me is so much death— my ignorance, my vice, my corporeal pleasure. But I am nothing else than a capacity for justice, truth, love, freedom, power. I can inhale, imbibe them forevermore. They shall be so much to me that I am nothing, they all. Then shall God be all in all. Herein is my Immortality.
Journals, October 24, 1836

All true greatness must come from internal growth.
Journals, October 17, 1832

Blessed is the day when the youth discovers
that Within and Above are synonyms.
Journals, Dec. 21, 1834

What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within?
Essays: First Series, "Self-Reliance" (1841)

let us not rove; let us sit at home with the cause... for God is here within.
Essays: First Series, "Self-Reliance" (1841)

What lies behind us and what lies before us are
small matters compared to what lies within us.
Source Unknown

You shall have joy, or you shall have power, said God, you shall not have both.
Journals, October 1842

Be a little careful about your Library. Do you foresee what you will do with it? Very little to be sure. But the real question is, What it will do with you? You will come here & get books that will open your eyes, & your ears, & your curiosity, & turn you inside out or outside in.
Journals, July 1873

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.
Journals, August 1847

All mankind love a lover.
Essays: First Series, "Love" (1841)

We must be lovers, and at once the impossible becomes possible.
Nature, Addresses, and Lectures "Man the Reformer" (1849)
Speech before the Mechanics' Apprentices' Library Association, Boston, January 25, 1841

In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years.
Nature, Ch. 1 (1836, revised 1849)

Nature is the symbol of the spirit.
Nature, Ch. 4 (1836, revised 1849)

Never was a more brilliant show of coloured landscape than yesterday afternoon— incredibly excellent topaz and ruby at four o'clock; cold and shabby at six.
Journals, October 11, 1855

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
Essays: First Series, "Self-Reliance" (1841)

My hours are peaceful centuries.
Poems, "Woodnotes II" (1847) [So says Emerson, in the guise of a pine-tree.]

Every poem must be made up of lines that are poems.
Journals, October 1848

The true philosopher and the true poet are one, and a beauty,
which is truth, and a truth, which is beauty, is the aim of both.
Nature, Ch. 6 (1836, revised 1849)

To the wise, therefore, a fact is true poetry,
and the most beautiful of fables.
Nature, Ch. 8 (1836, revised 1849)

There is, in all great poets, a wisdom of humanity which is superior to any talents they exercise.
Essays: First Series, "The Over-Soul" (1841)

For, the experience of each new age requires a new confession,
and the world seems always waiting for its poet.
Essays: Second Series, "The Poet" (1844)

It is the very essence of Poetry to spring like the rainbow daughter of Wonder from the invisible: to abolish the Past, & refuse all history... What can any biograhy biographize the wonderful world into which the Midsummer Night's dream admits me?
Journals, Oct.-Nov. 1845

Poetry is a free manner of speaking by one in a larger horizon than is his wont, free, therefore, to help himself with many more symbols for his thoughts, & consciously playing this game, delighting in this liberty & whim to magnify & dwarf things alternately, by using many symbols never before so used.
Journals, June 9, 1870

The secret of poetry is never explained— is always new. We have not got farther than mere wonder at the delicacy of the touch, & the eternity it inherits. In every house a child that in mere play utters oracles, & knows not that they are such, 'Tis as easy as breath. 'Tis like this gravity, which holds the Universe together, & none knows what it is.
Journals, Nov. 1874

Quotation— yes, but how differently persons quote! I am as much informed of your genius by what you select, as by what you originate. I read the quotation with your eyes, & find a new & fervent sense... For good quoting, then, there must be originality in the quoter.
Journals, Oct.-Nov. 1867

Immortality. I notice that as soon as writers broach this question they begin to quote.
I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.
Journal, May 1849

Every sentence is doubly significant & the sense of our author is as broad as the world. There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
Journals, October 29-30, 1836

One must be an inventor to read well.
The American Scholar, Oration before Phi Beta Kappa Society,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 31, 1837

Books are for the scholar's idle times. When he can read God directly,
the hour is too precious to be wasted on other men's transcripts of their readings.
Journals, July 29, 1837

Thou shalt read Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato, Proclus, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Porphyry, Aristotle, Virgil, Plutarch, Apuleius, Chaucer, Dante, Rabelais, Montaigne, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Jonson, Ford, Chapman, Beaumont and Fletcher, Bacon, Marvell, More, Milton, Molière, Swedenborg, Goethe.
Journals, October 1842

A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots,
whose flower and fruitage is the world.
Essays: First Series, "History" (1841)

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
Essays: First Series, "Self-Reliance" (1841)

In self-trust, all the virtues are comprehended.
Free should the scholar be,— free and brave.
The American Scholar, Oration before Phi Beta Kappa Society,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 31, 1837

I can find my biography in every fable that I read.
Journals, August 31, 1867

I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.
Essays: First Series, "Self-Reliance" (1841)

Ye taught my lips a single speech,
And a thousand silences.
"Merops" from Poems (1847)


There is no great and no small
To the Soul that maketh all;
And where it cometh, all things are;
And it cometh everywhere.
Essays: First Series, Epigraph to "History" (1841)

The soul circumscribes all things.
Essays: First Series, "The Over-Soul" (1841)

Tonight I walked under the stars through the snow & stopped & looked at my far sparklers & heard the voice of the wind so slight & pure & deep as if it were the sound of the stars themselves revolving.
Journals, February 17, 1838

The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible.
Nature, Ch. 1 (1836, revised 1849)

Self-trust is the first secret of success. Success

To think is to act.
Essays: First Series, "Spiritual Laws" (1841)

What is the hardest task in the world? To think.
Essays: First Series, "Intellect" (1841)

All the thoughts of a turtle are turtles.
Journals, Sept.-Oct. 1854

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force; that thoughts rule the world.
Progress of Culture Phi Beta Kappa Address, July 18, 1867.

Look sharply after your thoughts. They come unlooked for, like a new bird seen on your trees, and, if you turn to your usual task, disappear; and you shall never find that perception again; never, I say— but perhaps years, ages, and I know not what events and worlds may lie between you and its return!
Journals, October 1872

I do not give you my time, but I give you that which I have put my time into, namely my letter or my poem, the expression of my opinion, or better yet an act which in solitude I have learned to do.
Journals, Oct. 1840

Illusion, Temperament, Succession, Surface, Surprise, Reality, Subjectiveness,— these are the threads on the loom of time, these are the lords of life.
Essays: Second Series, "Experience" (1844)

I become a transparent eyeball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.
Nature, Ch. 1 (1836, revised 1849)

The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted
to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.
Nature, Ch. 1 (1836, revised 1849)

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
Nature, Ch. 8 (1836, revised 1849)

We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition,
whilst all later teachings are tuitions.
Essays: First Series, "Self-Reliance" (1841)

Whenever a mind is simple, and receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away,— means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour.
Essays: First Series, "Self-Reliance" (1841)

When he says, "I ought;" when love warms him; when he chooses, warned from on high, the good and great deed; then, deep melodies wander through his soul from Supreme Wisdom.
Divinity School Address, Delivered before the Senior Class in Divinity College,
Cambridge, Sunday Evening, July 15, 1838

A writer must have l'abandon, he must be content to stand aside & let truth & beauty speak for him, or he cannot expect to be heard far.
Journal, May 28, 1836

We all know enough to be endless writers. Those who have written best are not those who have known most, but those to whom writing was natural & necessary. Let us answer a book of ink with a book of flesh & blood. All writing comes by the grace of God.
Journals, July-August 1841

If I should write an honest diary what should I say? Alas that Life has halfness, shallowness. I have almost completed thirty nine years and I have not yet adjusted my relation to my fellows on the planet, or to my own work. Always too young or too old, I do not satisfy myself; how can I satisfy others?
Journals, April 14, 1842

99 More Emerson Quotes (Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th Ed., 1919)

Emerson Quotes with Sources (Jim Manley, www.rwe.org)

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