Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
Author unknown. General proof lies with Stephen Grellet as author. Not found in his writings. Same idea found in The Spectator. (Addison.) No. I. Vol. I. March 1. 1710. Canon Jepson positively claimed it for Emerson. Attributed to Edward Courtenay, due to the resemblance of the Earl’s epitaph. See Literary World, March 15, 1905. Also to Carlyle, Miss A. B. Hageman, Rowland Hill, Marcus Aurelius.

If you will do some deed before you die,
Remember not this caravan of death,
But have belief that every little breath
Will stay with you for an eternity.
Abu’l Ala.

Spesso è da forte,
Più che il morire, il vivere.
Ofttimes the test of courage becomes rather to live than to die.
Alfieri—Oreste. IV. 2.

I know not if the dark or bright
Shall be my lot;
If that wherein my hopes delight
Be best or not.
Henry M. Alford—Life’s Answer.

Every man’s life is a fairy-tale written by God’s fingers.
Hans Christian Andersen—Preface to Works.

And by a prudent flight and cunning save
A life which valour could not, from the grave.
A better buckler I can soon regain,
But who can get another life again?
Archilochus—See Plutarch’s Morals. Vol. I. Essay on the Laws, etc., of the Lacedemonians.

There is a cropping-time in the races of men, as in the fruits of the field; and sometimes, if the stock be good, there springs up for a time a succession of splendid men; and then comes a period of barrenness.
Aristotle—Rhetoric. II. 15. Par. III. Quoted by Bishop Fraser. Sermon. Feb. 9, 1879.

We are the voices of the wandering wind,
Which moan for rest and rest can never find;
Lo! as the wind is so is mortal life,
A moan, a sigh, a sob, a storm, a strife.
Edwin Arnold—Light of Asia.

Life, which all creatures love and strive to keep
Wonderful, dear and pleasant unto each,
Even to the meanest; yea, a boon to all
Where pity is, for pity makes the world
Soft to the weak and noble for the strong.
Edwin Arnold—Light of Asia.

With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
We bear the burden and the heat
Of the long day, and wish ’twere done.
Not till the hours of light return
All we have built do we discern.
Matthew Arnold—Morality. St. 2.

Saw life steadily and saw it whole.
Matthew Arnold—Sonnet to a Friend. (Said of Sophocles.)

This strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims.
Matthew Arnold—Scholar-Gypsy. St. 21.

They live that they may eat, but he himself [Socrates] eats that he may live.
Athenæus. IV. 15. See Aulus Gellius. XVIII. 2. 8.

As a mortal, thou must nourish each of two forebodings—that tomorrow’s sunlight will be the last that thou shalt see; and that for fifty years thou wilt live out thy life in ample wealth.

I would live to study, and not study to live.
Bacon—Memorial of Access. From a Letter to King James I. See Birch’s ed. of Bacon—Letters, Speeches, etc. P. 321. (Ed. 1763).

The World’s a bubble, and the Life of Man less than a span:
In his conception wretched, from the womb so to the tomb;
Curst from his cradle, and brought up to years with cares and fears.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
But limns the water, or but writes in dust.
Bacon—Life. Preface to the Translation of Certain Psalms.

We live in deeds, not years: in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
Bailey—Festus. Sc. A Country Town.

It matters not how long we live, but how.
Bailey—Festus. Sc. Wood and Water.

Life hath more awe than death.
Bailey—Festus. Sc. Wood and Water.

I live for those who love me,
For those who know me true;
For the heaven so blue above me,
And the good that I can do.
George Linnæus Banks—My Aim. In Daisies of the Grass. P. 21. (Ed. 1865).

Life! we’ve been long together
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather:
’Tis hard to part when friends are dear:
Perhaps ’twill cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time,
Say not Good-night,—but in some brighter clime
Bid me Good-morning.
Anna Letitia Barbauld—Life.

Life is a long lesson in humility.
Barrie—Little Minister. Ch. III.

Loin des sépultures célebres
Vers un cimitière isolé
Mon cœur, comme un tambour voilé
Va battant des marches funèbres.
To the solemn graves, near a lonely cemetery, my heart like a muffled drum is beating funeral marches.
Baudelaire—Les Fleurs du Mal. Le Guignon.

Our lives are but our marches to the grave.
Beaumont and Fletcher—The Humorous Lieutenant. Act III. Sc. 5. L. 76.

We sleep, but the loom of life never stops and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up to-morrow.
Henry Ward Beecher—Life Thoughts. P. 12.

The day is short, the work is much.
Saying of Ben Syra. (From the Hebrew.)

We are all but Fellow-Travelers,
Along Life’s weary way;
If any man can play the pipes,
In God’s name, let him play.
John Bennett—Poem in The Century.

Life does not proceed by the association and addition of elements, but by dissociation and division.
Henri Bergson—Creative Evolution. Ch. I.

For life is tendency, and the essence of a tendency is to develop in the form of a sheaf, creating, by its very growth, divergent directions among which its impetus is divided.
Henri Bergson—Creative Revolution. Ch. II.

Nasci miserum, vivere pœna, angustia mori.
It is a misery to be born, a pain to live, a trouble to die.
St. Bernard—Ch. III.

Alas, how scant the sheaves for all the trouble,
The toil, the pain and the resolve sublime—
A few full ears; the rest but weeds and stubble,
And withered wild-flowers plucked before their time.
A. B. Bragdon—The Old Campus.

For life is the mirror of king and slave,
’Tis just what we are and do;
Then give to the world the best you have,
And the best will come back to you.
Madeleine Bridges—Life’s Mirror.

There are loyal hearts, there are spirits brave,
There are souls that are pure and true;
Then give to the world the best you have,
And the best will come back to you.
Madeleine Bridges—Life’s Mirror.

Life, believe, is not a dream,
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day!
Charlotte Brontë—Life.

A little sun, a little rain,
A soft wind blowing from the west,
And woods and fields are sweet again,
And warmth within the mountain’s breast

A little love, a little trust,
A soft impulse, a sudden dream,
And life as dry as desert dust,
Is fresher than a mountain stream.
Stopford A. Brooke—Earth and Man.

I would not live over my hours past … not unto Cicero’s ground because I have lived them well, but for fear I should live them worse.
Sir Thomas Browne.

Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.
Sir Thomas Browne—Hydriotaphia. Ch. V.

The long habit of living indisposeth us for dying.
Sir Thomas Browne—Hydriotaphia.

Whose life is a bubble, and in length a span.
Wm. Browne—Britannia Pastorals. Bk. I. Song II.

I know—is all the mourner saith,
Knowledge by suffering entereth;
And Life is perfected by Death.
E. B. Browning—Vision of Poets. St. 321.

Have you found your life distasteful?
My life did, and does, smack sweet.
Was your youth of pleasure wasteful?
Mine I saved and hold complete.
Do your joys with age diminish?
When mine fail me, I’ll complain.
Must in death your daylight finish?
My sun sets to rise again.
Robert Browning—At the “Mermaid.” St. 10.

I count life just a stuff
To try the soul’s strength on.
Robert Browning—In a Balcony.

No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers,
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life’s arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold.
Robert Browning—Prospice.

O Life! thou art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I!

O, Life! how pleasant is thy morning,
Young Fancy’s rays the hills adorning!
Cold pausing Caution’s lesson scorning,
We frisk away,
Like schoolboys, at the expected warning,
To joy and play.
Burns—Epistle to James Smith.

Life is but a day at most.
Burns—Friars’ Carse Hermitage.

Did man compute
Existence by enjoyment, and count o’er
Such hours ’gainst years of life, say, would he name threescore?
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto III. St. 34.

All is concentred in a life intense,
Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost,
But hath a part of being.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto III. St. 89.

Through life’s road, so dim and dirty,
I have dragged to three and thirty;
What have these years left to me?
Nothing, except thirty-three.
Byron—Diary. Jan. 22, 1821. In Moore’s Life of Byron. Vol. II. P. 414. First Ed.

Our life is two-fold; sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence.
Byron—Dream. St. 1. L. 1.

The dust we tread upon was once alive.
Byron—Sardanapalus. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 66.

Life is with such all beer and skittles.
They are not difficult to please
About their victuals.
C. S. Calverley—Contentment.

Heaven gives our years of fading strength
Indemnifying fleetness;
And those of Youth a seeming length,
Proportioned to their sweetness.
Campbell—A Thought Suggested by the New Year.

A well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.
Carlyle—Essays. Jean Paul Friedrich Richter.

There is no life of a man, faithfully recorded, but is a heroic poem of its sort, rhymed or unrhymed.
Carlyle—Essays. Memoirs on the Life of Scott.

One life;—a little gleam of Time between two Eternities.
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. The Hero as a Man of Letters.

How many lives we live in one,
And how much less than one, in all.
Alice Cary—Life’s Mysteries.

Bien predica quien bien vive.
He who lives well is the best preacher.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. VI. 19.

On entre, on crie,
Et c’est la vie!
On bâille, on sort,
Et c’est la mort!
We come and we cry, and that is life; we yawn and we depart, and that is death!
Ausone De Chancel—Lines in an Album. (1836).

However, while I crawl upon this planet I think myself obliged to do what good I can in my narrow domestic sphere, to all my fellow-creatures, and to wish them all the good I cannot do.
Chesterfield—In a letter to the Bishop of Waterford, Jan. 22, 1780.

Brevis a natura nobis vita data est; at memoria bene reditæ vitæ sempiterna.
The life given us by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal.
Cicero—Philippicæ. XIV. 12.

Natura dedit usuram vitæ tanquam pecuniæ nulla præstitua die.
Nature has lent us life at interest, like money, and has fixed no day for its payment.
Cicero—Tusculanarum Disputationum. I. 39.

Nemo parum diu vixit, qui virtuis perfectæ perfecto functus est munere.
No one has lived a short life who has performed its duties with unblemished character.
Cicero—Tusculanarum Disputationum. I. 45.

To know, to esteem, to love,—and then to part,
Makes up life’s tale to many a feeling heart.
Coleridge—On Taking Leave of——.

Life is but thought.
Coleridge—Youth and Age.

This life’s a hollow bubble,
Don’t you know?
Just a painted piece of trouble,
Don’t you know?
We come to earth to cry,
We grow older and we sigh,
Older still, and then we die!
Don’t you know?
Edmund Vance Cooke—Fin de Siècle.

Life for delays and doubts no time does give,
None ever yet made haste enough to live.
Abraham Cowley—Martial. Lib. II. XC.

His faith, perhaps, in some nice tenets might
Be wrong; his life, I’m sure, was in the right.
Abraham Cowley—On the Death of Mr. Crashaw. L. 56.

Life is an incurable disease.
Abraham Cowley—To Dr. Scarborough.

Men deal with life as children with their play,
Who first misuse, then cast their toys away.
Cowper—Hope. L. 127.

Still ending, and beginning still.
Cowper—Task. Bk. III. L. 627.

What is it but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?
Cowper—Task. Bk. IV. L. 55.

Let’s learn to live, for we must die alone.
Crabbe—Borough. Letter X.

Shall he who soars, inspired by loftier views,
Life’s little cares and little pains refuse?
Shall he not rather feel a double share
Of mortal woe, when doubly arm’d to bear?

Life’s bloomy flush was lost.
Crabbe—Parish Register. Pt. II. 453.

Life is not measured by the time we live.
Crabbe—Village. Bk. II.

Chaque instant de la vie est un pas vers la mort.
Every moment of life is a step toward the grave.
Crébillon—Tite et Bérénice. I. 5.

Non ò necessario
Vivere, si scolpire olte quel termine
Nostro nome: quæsto è necessario.
It is not necessary to live,
But to carve our names beyond that point,
This is necessary.
Gabriele d’Annunzio—Canzone di Umberto Cagni.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
Che la diritta via era smarrita.
In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray,
Gone from the path direct.
Dante—Inferno. I.

Questo misero modo
Tengon l’anime triste di coloro
Che visser senza infamia e senza lodo.
This sorrow weighs upon the melancholy souls of those who lived without infamy or praise.
Dante—Inferno. III. 36.

… There are two distinct classes of people in the world; those that feel that they themselves are in a body; and those that feel that they themselves are a body, with something working it. I feel like the contents of a bottle, and am curious to know what will happen when the bottle is uncorked. Perhaps I shall be mousseux—who knows? Now I know that many people feel like a strong moving engine, self-stoking, and often so anxious to keep the fire going that they put too much fuel on, and it has to be raked out and have the bars cleared.
William de Morgan—Joseph Vance. Ch. XL.

Learn to live well, that thou may’st die so too;
To live and die is all we have to do.
Sir John Denham—Of Prudence. L. 93.

Cette longue et cruelle maladie qu’on appele la vie.
That long and cruel malady which one calls life.

Mr. Wopsle’s great-aunt conquered a confirmed habit of living into which she had fallen.
Dickens—Great Expectations. Ch. 16.

My life is one demd horrid grind.
Dickens—Nicholas Nickleby. Vol. II. Ch. XXXII.

They don’t mind it: its a reg’lar holiday to them—all porter and skittles.
Dickens—Pickwick Papers. Ch. XL, of original Ed.

“Live, while you live,” the epicure would say,
“And seize the pleasures of the present day;”
“Live, while you live,” the sacred preacher cries,
“And give to God each moment as it flies.”
“Lord, in my views let both united be;
I live in pleasure, when I live to Thee.”
Philip Doddridge—“Dum vivimus vivamus.” Lines written under Motto of his Family Arms.

So that my life be brave, what though not long?

Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease.
Dryden—Absalom and Achitophel. L. 168.

’Tis not for nothing that we life pursue;
It pays our hopes with something still that’s new.
Dryden—Aureng-Zebe. Act IV. Sc. 1.

When I consider life, ’tis all a cheat;
Yet, fooled with hope, men favour the deceit.
Dryden—Aureng-Zebe. Act IV. Sc. 1.

Like pilgrims to th’ appointed place we tend;
The World’s an Inn, and Death the journey’s end.
Dryden—Palamon and Arcite. III. 887.

Take not away the life you cannot give:
For all things have an equal right to live.
Dryden—Pythagorean Phil. L. 705.

The wheels of weary life at last stood still.
Dryden and Lee—Œdipus. Act IV. Sc. 1.

Living from hand to mouth.
Du Bartas—Divine Weekes and Workes. Second Week. First Day. Pt. IV.

A little rule, a little sway,
A sunbeam in a winter’s day,
Is all the proud and mighty have
Between the cradle and the grave.
John Dyer—Grongar Hill. L. 89.

A man’s ingress into the world is naked and bare,
His progress through the world is trouble and care;
And lastly, his egress out of the world, is nobody knows where.
If we do well here, we shall do well there;
I can tell you no more if I preach a whole year.
John Edwin—The Eccentricities of John Edwin (second edition). Vol. I. P. 74. Quoted in Longefellow’s Tales of a Wayside Inn. Pt. II. Student’s Tale.

Life’s a vast sea
That does its mighty errand without fail,
Painting in unchanged strength though waves are changing.
George Eliot—Spanish Gypsy. Bk. III.

Life is short, and time is swift;
Roses fade, and shadows shift.
Ebenezer Elliot—Epigram.

Sooner or later that which is now life shall be poetry, and every fair and manly trait shall add a richer strain to the song.
Emerson—Letters and Social Aims. Poetry and Imagination.

When life is true to the poles of nature, the streams of truth will roll through us in song.
Emerson—Letters and Social Aims. Poetry and Imagination.

Life’s like an inn where travelers stay,
Some only breakfast and away;
Others to dinner stop, and are full fed;
The oldest only sup and go to bed.
Epitaph on tomb in Silkstone, England, to the memory of John Ellis. (1766).

Life’s an Inn, my house will shew it;—
I thought so once, but now I know it.
Epitaphs printed by Mr. Fairley. Epitaphiana. (Ed. 1875). On an Innkeeper at Eton. The lines that follow are like those of Quarles.

This world’s a city full of crooked streets,
Death’s the market-place where all men meet;
If life were merchandise that men should buy,
The rich would always live, the poor might die.
Epitaph to John Gadsden, died 1739, in Stoke Goldington, England. See E. R. Suffling—Epitaphia. P. 401. On P. 405 is a Scotch version of 1689. Same idea in Gay. The Messenger of Mortality, in Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry. A suggestion from Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale. L. 2,487. Shakespeare and Fletcher. Two Noble Kinsmen. Act I. Sc. 5. L. 15. Waller—Divine Poems.

Nulli desperandum, quam diu spirat.
No one is to be despaired of as long as he breathes. (While there is life there is hope.)
Erasmus—Colloq. Epicureus.

So likewise all this life of martall men,
What is it but a certaine kynde of stage plaie?
Where men come forthe disguised one in one arraie,
An other in an other eche plaiying his part.
Erasmus—Praise of Folie. Challoner’s Trans. (1549). P. 43.

Life is short, yet sweet.

For like a child, sent with a fluttering light
To feel his way along a gusty night,
Man walks the world. Again, and yet again,
The lamp shall be by fits of passion slain;
But shall not He who sent him from the door
Relight the lamp once more, and yet once more?
Edward FitzGerald—Translation of Attar’s Mantik-ut-Tair. (Bird Parliament.) In Letters and Literary Remains of FitzGerald. Vol. II. P. 457.

The King in a carriage may ride,
And the Beggar may crawl at his side;
But in the general race,
They are traveling all the same pace.
Edward FitzGerald—Chrononoros.

Were the offer made true, I would engage to run again, from beginning to end, the same career of life. All I would ask should be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first.
Benj. Franklin. In his Life.

Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
Benj. Franklin—Poor Richard.

We live merely on the crust or rind of things.
Froude—Short Studies on Great Subjects. Lucian.

The old Quaker was right: “I expect to pass through life but once. If there is any kindness, or any good thing I can do to my fellow beings, let me do it now. I shall pass this way but once.”
W. C. Gannett—Blessed be Drudgery.

How short is life! how frail is human trust!
Gay—Trivia. Bk. III. L. 235.

Lebe, wie Du, wenn du stirbst,
Wünschen wirst, gelebt zu haben.
Live in such a way as, when you come to die, you will wish to have lived.
C. F. Gellert—Geistliche Oden und Lieder. Vom Tode.

We are in this life as it were in another man’s house…. In heaven is our home, in the world is our Inn: do not so entertain thyself in the Inn of this world for a day as to have thy mind withdrawn from longing after thy heavenly home.
Gerhard—Meditations. XXXVIII. (About 1630).

Die uns das Leben gaben, herrliche Gefühle,
Erstarren in dem irdischen Gewühle.
The fine emotions whence our lives we mold
Lie in the earthly tumult dumb and cold.
Goethe—Faust. I. 1. 286.

Grau, theurer Freund, ist alle Theorie
Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.
My worthy friend, gray are all theories
And green alone Life’s golden tree.
Goethe—Faust. I. 4. 515.

Ein unnütz Leben ist ein früher Tod.
A useless life is an early death.
Goethe—Iphigenia auf Tauris. I. 2. 63.

Singet nicht in Trauertönen.
Sing it not in mournful numbers.
Goethe—Wilhelm Meister. Philine.

All the bloomy flush of life is fled.
Goldsmith—Deserted Village. 128.

The pregnant quarry teem’d with human form.
Goldsmith—Traveller. L. 138.

I would live the same life over if I had to live again,
And the chances are I go where most men go.
Adam Lindsay Gordon.

Life is mostly froth and bubble;
Two things stand like stone:
Kindness in another’s trouble
Courage in our own.
Adam Lindsay Gordon—Ye Weary Wayfarer. Finis Exoptatus.

Along the cool sequestered vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Gray—Elegy in a Country Churchyard. St. 19.

Qui n’a pas vécu dans les années voisines de 1789 ne sait pas ce que c’est le palisir de vivre.
Whoever did not live in the years neighboring 1789 does not know what the pleasure of living means.
Talleyrand to Guizot. Guizot—Memoirs pour Servir a l’histoire de nous Temps. Vol. I. P. 6.

Life’s little ironies.
Thos. Hardy. Title of a collection of stories.

[George Herbert] a conspicuous example of plain living and high thinking.
Haweis—Sermon on George Herbert. In Evenings for the People.

Who but knows
How it goes!
Life’s a last year’s Nightingale,
Love’s a last year’s rose.
Henley—Echoes. XLV.

Life is a smoke that curls—
Curls in a flickering skein,
That winds and whisks and whirls,
A figment thin and vain,
Into the vast inane.
One end for hut and hall.
Henley—Of the Nothingness of Things.

One doth but break-fast here, another dine; he that lives longest does but suppe; we must all goe to bed in another World.
Bishop Henshaw—Horæ Subcessivæ. (1631). P. 80.

Let all live as they would die.
Herbert—Jacula Prudentum.

I made a posy, while the day ran by:
Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie
My life within this band.
But time did beckon to the flowers, and they
By noon most cunningly did steal away,
And wither’d in my hand.

No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Thomas Hobbes—Leviathan. Pt. I. Of Man. Ch. XVIII.

Life is not to be bought with heaps of gold;
Not all Apollo’s Pythian treasures hold,
Or Troy once held, in peace and pride of sway,
Can bribe the poor possession of the day.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. IX. L. 524. Pope’s trans.

For Fate has wove the thread of life with pain,
And twins ev’n from the birth are Misery and Man!
Homer—Odyssey. Bk. VII. L. 263. Pope’s trans.

Vitæ summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam.
Jam te premet nox, fabulæque Manes,
Et domus exilis Plutonia.
The short span of life forbids us to spin out hope to any length. Soon will night be upon you, and the fabled Shades, and the shadowy Plutonian home.
Horace—Carmina. I. 4. 15.

Ille potens sui
Lætusque deget, cui licet in diem
Dixisse Vixi; cras vel atra
Nube polum pater occupato,
Vel sole puro, non tamen irritum
Quodcunque retro est efficiet.
That man lives happy and in command of himself, who from day to day can say I have lived. Whether clouds obscure, or the sun illumines the following day, that which is past is beyond recall.
Horace—Carmina. III. 29. 41.

Vivendi recte qui prorogat horam
Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis; at ille
Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis ævum.
He who postpones the hour of living as he ought, is like the rustic who waits for the river to pass along (before he crosses); but it glides on and will glide on forever.
Horace—Epistles. I. 2. 41.

Nec vixit male qui natus moriensque fefellit.
Nor has he spent his life badly who has passed it in privacy.
Horace—Epistles. I. 17. 10.

Exacto contentus tempore vita cedat uti conviva satur.
Content with his past life, let him take leave of life like a satiated guest.
Horace—Satires. I. 1. 118.

Life isn’t all beer and skittles; but beer and skittles or something better of the same sort, must form a good part of every Englishman’s education.
Thomas Hughes—Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Ch. II.

The chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us.
Huxley—Liberal Education. In Science and Education.

There is but halting for the wearied foot;
The better way is hidden. Faith hath failed;
One stronger far than reason mastered her.
It is not reason makes faith hard, but life.
Jean Ingelow—A Pastor’s Letter to a Young Poet. Pt. II. L. 231.

Study as if you were to live forever. Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Isidore of Seville.

A fair, where thousands meet, but none can stay;
An inn, where travellers bait, then post away.
Soame Jenkyns—Immortality of the Soul. Translated from the Latin of Isaac Hawkins Browne.

All that a man hath will he give for his life.
Job. II. 4.

I would not live alway.
Job. VII. 16.

The land of the living.
Job. XXVIII. 13.

Learn that the present hour alone is man’s.
Samuel Johnson—Irene. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 33.

Reflect that life, like every other blessing,
Derives its value from its use alone.
Samuel Johnson—Irene. Act III. Sc. 8. L. 28.

The drama’s laws the drama’s patrons give.
For we that live to please must please to live.
Samuel Johnson. Prologue to opening of Drury Lane Theatre. (1747).

“Enlarge my life with multitude of days!”
In health, in sickness, thus the suppliant prays:
Hides from himself its state, and shuns to know,
That life protracted is protracted woe.
Samuel Johnson—Vanity of Human Wishes. L. 255.

In life’s last scene what prodigies surprise,
Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise!
From Marlborough’s eyes the streams of dotage flow,
And Swift expires a driveller and a show.
Samuel Johnson—Vanity of Human Wishes. L. 315.

Catch, then, oh! catch the transient hour,
Improve each moment as it flies;
Life’s a short summer—man a flower;
He dies—alas! how soon he dies!
Samuel Johnson—Winter. An Ode. L. 33.

Our whole life is like a play.
Ben Jonson—Discoveries de Vita Humana.

Festimat enim decurrere velox
Flosculus angustæ miseræque brevissima vitæ
Portio; dum bibimus dum serta unguenta puellas
Poscimus obrepit non intellecta senectus.
The short bloom of our brief and narrow life flies fast away. While we are calling for flowers and wine and women, old age is upon us.
Juvenal—Satires. IX. 127.

A sacred burden is this life ye bear,
Look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly,
Stand up and walk beneath it steadfastly;
Fail not for sorrow, falter not for sin,
But onward, upward, till the goal ye win.
Frances Anne Kemble—Lines to the Young Gentlemen leaving the Lennox Academy, Mass.

I have fought my fight, I have lived my life,
I have drunk my share of wine;
From Trier to Coln there was never a knight
Led a merrier life than mine.
Charles Kingsley—The Knight’s Leap. Similar lines appear under the picture of Franz Hals, The Laughing Cavalier.

La plupart des hommes emploient la première partie de leur vie à rendre l’autre misérable.
Most men employ the first part of life to make the other part miserable.
La Bruyère—Les Caractères. XI.

Life will be lengthened while growing, for
Thought is the measure of life.
Leland—The Return of the Gods. L. 85.

What shall we call this undetermin’d state,
This narrow isthmus ’twixt two boundless oceans,
That whence we came, and that to which we tend?
Lillo—Arden of Feversham. Act III. Sc. 2.

This life of ours is a wild æolian harp of many a joyous strain,
But under them all there runs a loud perpetual wail, as of souls in pain.
Longfellow—Christus. The Golden Legend. Pt. IV. St. 2.

Love is sunshine, hate is shadow,
Life is checkered shade and sunshine.
Longfellow—Hiawatha. Pt. X. Hiawatha’s Wooing. L. 265.

Life hath quicksands, Life hath snares!
Longfellow—Maidenhood. St. 9.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
Longfellow—A Psalm of Life. St. 1.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
Longfellow—A Psalm of Life. St. 4.

Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!
Longfellow—The Village Blacksmith. St. 8.

Live and think.
Samuel Lover—Father Roach.

Truly there is a tide in the affairs of men; but there is no gulf-stream setting forever in one direction.
Lowell—Among my Books. First Series. New England Two Centuries Ago.

Our life must once have end; in vain we fly
From following Fate; e’en now, e’en now, we die.
Lucretius—De Rerum Natura. 3, 1093. (Creech tr.).

Vita dum superest, bene est.
Whilst life remains it is well.
Mæcenas. Quoted by Seneca. Ep. 101.

An ardent throng, we have wandered long,
We have searched the centuries through,
In flaming pride, we have fought and died,
To keep its memory true.
We fight and die, but our hopes beat high,
In spite of the toil and tears,
For we catch the gleam of our vanished dream
Down the path of the Untrod Years.
Wilma Kate McFarland—The Untrod Years. Pub. in Methodist Journal. July, 1912.

Victuros agimus semper, nec vivimus unquam.
We are always beginning to live, but are never living.
Manilius—Astronomica. IV. 899.

Non est, crede mihi sapientis dicere “vivam.”
Sera nimis vita est crastina, vive hodie.
It is not, believe me, the act of a wise man to say, “I will live.” To-morrow’s life is too late; live to-day.
Martial—Epigrams. I. 16. 11.

Cras vives; hodie jam vivere, Postume, serum est.
Ille sapit, quisquis, Postume, vixit heri.
To-morrow I will live, the fool does say;
To-day itself’s too late, the wise lived yesterday.
Martial—Epigrams. V. 58. Cowley’s trans. Danger of Procrastination. Quoted by Voltaire in Letter to Thieriot.

He who thinks that the lives of Priam and of Nestor were long is much deceived and mistaken. Life consists not in living, but in enjoying health.
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. VI.

Ampliat ætatis spatium sibi vir bonus: hoc est vivere bis, vita posse priore frui.
A good man doubles the length of his existence; to have lived so as to look back with pleasure on our past existence is to live twice.
Martial—Epigrams. X. 23. 7.

On the long dusty ribbon of the long city street,
The pageant of life is passing me on multitudinous feet,
With a word here of the hills, and a song there of the sea
And—the great movement changes—the pageant passes me.
Masefield—All ye that pass by!

While we least think it he prepares his Mate.
Mate, and the King’s pawn played, it never ceases,
Though all the earth is dust of taken pieces.
Masefield—Widow in the Bye Street. Pt. I. Last lines.

Man cannot call the brimming instant back;
Time’s an affair of instants spun to days;
If man must make an instant gold, or black,
Let him, he may; but Time must go his ways.
Life may be duller for an instant’s blaze.
Life’s an affair of instants spun to years,
Instants are only cause of all these tears.
Masefield—Widow in the Bye Street. Pt. V.

Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction.
Matthew. VII. 13.

Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life.
Matthew. VII. 14.

Life is a mission. Every other definition of life is false, and leads all who accept it astray. Religion, science, philosophy, though still at variance upon many points, all agree in this, that every existence is an aim.
Mazzini—Life and Writings. Ch. V.

Life hath set
No landmarks before us.
Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton)—Lucile. Pt II. Canto V. St. 14.

When life leaps in the veins, when it beats in the heart,
When it thrills as it fills every animate part,
Where lurks it? how works it?***we scarcely detect it.
Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton)—Lucile. Pt. II. Canto I. St. 5.

Il torre altrui la vita
È facoltà commune
Al più vil della terra; il darla è solo
De’ Numi, e de’ Regnanti.
To take away life is a power which the vilest of the earth have in common; to give it belongs to gods and kings alone.
Metastasio—La Clemenza di Tito. III. 7.

A man’s best things are nearest him,
Lie close about his feet.
Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton)—The Men of Old. St. 7.

For men to tell how human life began
Is hard; for who himself beginning knew?
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. VIII. L. 250.

Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv’st
Live well; how long or short permit to heav’n.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. XI. L. 553.

Were I to live my life over again, I should live it just as I have done. I neither complain of the past, nor do I fear the future.
Montaigne—Essays. On Repentance. Bk. III. Ch. II.

La vie est vaine:
Un peu d’amour,
Un peu de haine—
Et puis-bonjour!

La vie est brève:
Un peu d’espoir,
Un peu de rêve—
Et puis—bon soir!

Life is but jest:
A dream, a doom;
A gleam, a gloom—
And then—good rest!

Life is but play;
A throb, a tear:
A sob, a sneer;
And then—good day.
Leon de Montenaeken—Peu de Chose et Presque Trop. (Nought and too Much.) English trans. by Author. Quoted by Du Maurier in Trilby.

’Tis not the whole of life to live;
Nor all of death to die.
Montgomery—The Issues of Life and Death.

Vain were the man, and false as vain,
Who said, were he ordained to run
His long career of life again
He would do all that he had done.
Moore—My Birthday. In a footnote Moore refers to Fontenelie, “Si je recommençais ma carrière, je ferai tout ce que j’ai fait.”

The longer one lives the more he learns.
Moore—Dream of Hindoostan.

A narrow isthmus ’twixt two boundless seas,
The past, the future, two eternities.
Moore—Lalla Rookh. Veiled Prophet. Idea given as a quotation in the Spectator. No. 590, Sept. 6, 1714.

Life is a waste of wearisome hours,
Which seldom the rose of enjoyment adorns,
And the heart that is soonest awake to the flowers,
Is always the first to be touch’d by the thorns.
Moore—Oh! Think not My Spirits are always as Light.

Nor on one string are all life’s jewels strung.
William Morris—Life and Death of Jason. Bk. 17. L. 1,170.

I would not live alway; I ask not to stay
Where storm after storm rises dark o’er the way.
William A. Muhlenberg—I would not Live Alway.

Our days begin with trouble here, our life is but a span,
And cruel death is always near, so frail a thing is man.
New England Primer. (1777).

Wile some no other cause for life can give
But a dull habitude to live.
Oldham—To the Memory of Norwent. Par. 5.

You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.
Omar Khayyam—Rubaiyat. St. III. FitzGerald’s Trans.

Ah Love! could you and I with him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire
Would we not shatter it to bits—and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire?
Omar Khayyam—Rubaiyat. St. IX. FitzGerald’s Trans.

Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai
Whose portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destin’d Hour and went his way.
Omar Khayyam—Rubaiyat. St. XVII. FitzGerald’s Trans.

I came like Water, and like Wind I go.
Omar Khayyam—Rubaiyat. St. XXVIII.

A Moment’s Halt—a momentary taste
Of BEING from the Well amid the Waste—
And, Lo! the phantom Caravan has reach’d
The NOTHING it set out from. Oh, make haste!
Omar Khayyam—Rubaiyat. St. XLVIII. FitzGerald’s Trans.

But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Checker-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.
Omar Khayyam—Rubaiyat. LXIX. FitzGerald’s trans.

And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account should lose or know the type no more:
The Eternal Sáki from that Bowl has poured
Millions of Bubbles like us and will pour.
Omar Khayyam—Rubaiyat. FitzGerald’s Trans. (In the edition of 1889 the second line reads: Account and mine, should know the like no more.)

My life is like the summer rose
That opens to the morning sky,
But ere the shade of evening close
Is scatter’d on the ground to die.
Claimed by Patrick O’Kelly. The Simile. Pub. 1824. Authorship doubted. The lines appeared in a Philadelphia paper about 1815–16, attributed to Richard Henry Wilde.

Id quoque, quod vivam, munus habere dei.
This also, that I live, I consider a gift of God.
Ovid—Tristium. I. 1. 20.

This life a theatre we well may call,
Where very actor must perform with art,
Or laugh it through, and make a farce of all,
Or learn to bear with grace his tragic part.
Palladas. Epitaph in Palatine Anthology. X. 72. As translated by Robert Bland. (From the Greek.) Part of this Sir Thomas Shadwell wished to have inscribed on the monument in Westminster Abbey to his father, Thomas Shadwell.

Condition de l’homme, inconstance, ennui, inquietude.
The state of man is inconstancy, ennui, anxiety.
Pascal—Pensées. Art. VI. 46.

On s’eveille, on se léve, on s’habille, et l’on sort;
On rentre, on dine, on soupe, on se couche, et l’on dort.
One awakens, one rises, one dresses, and one goes forth;
One returns, one dines, one sups, one retires and one sleeps.
De Piis.

Natura, vero nihil hominibus brevitate vitæ præstitit melius.
Nature has given man no better thing than shortness of life.
Pliny the Elder—Historia Naturalis. VII. 51. 3.

She went from opera, park, assembly, play,
To morning walks, and prayers three hours a day.
To part her time ’twixt reading and bohea,
To muse, and spill her solitary tea,
Or o’er cold coffee trifle with the spoon,
Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon.
Pope—Ep. to Miss Blount on Leaving Town. L. 13.

Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o’er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan.
Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. I. L. 1.

Placed on this isthmus of a middle state.
Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. II. L. 3.

Fix’d like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate and rot.
Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. II. L. 63.

On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail,
Reason the card, but passion is the gale.
Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. II. L. 107.

Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne,
They rise, they break, and to that sea return.
Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. III. L. 19.

Like following life through creatures you dissect,
You lose it in the moment you detect.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. I. L. 29.

See how the World its Veterans rewards!
A Youth of Frolics, an old Age of Cards;
Fair to no purpose, artful to no end,
Young without Lovers, old without a Friend;
A Fop their Passion, but their Prize a Sot;
Alive ridiculous, and dead forgot.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 243.

Learn to live well, or fairly make your will;
You’ve play’d, and lov’d, and ate, and drank your fill:
Walk sober off, before a sprightlier age
Comes titt’ring on, and shoves you from the stage.
Pope—Second Book of Horace. Ep. II. L. 322.

Through the sequester’d vale of rural life
The venerable patriarch guileless held
The tenor of his way.
Porteus—Death. L. 109.

Amid two seas, on one small point of land,
Wearied, uncertain, and amazed we stand.
Prior—Solomon on the Vanity of Human Wishes. Pt. III. L. 616.

Who breathes must suffer; and who thinks, must mourn;
And he alone is bless’d who ne’er was born.
Prior—Solomon on the Vanity of the World. Bk. III. L. 240.

So vanishes our state; so pass our days;
So life but opens now, and now decays;
The cradle and the tomb, alas! so nigh,
To live is scarce distinguish’d from to die.
Prior—Solomon on the Vanity of the World. Bk. III. L. 527.

Half my life is full of sorrow,
Half of joy, still fresh and new;
One of these lives is a fancy,
But the other one is true.
Adelaide A. Procter—Dream-Life.

Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
Psalms. XXXIX. 4.

As for man his days are as grass; as a flower of the field so he flourisheth.
Psalms. CIII. 15.

The wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
Psalms. CIII. 16.

Our Life is nothing but a Winter’s day;
Some only break their Fast, and so away:
Others stay to Dinner, and depart full fed:
The deepest Age but Sups, and goes to Bed:
He’s most in debt that lingers out the Day:
Who dies betime, has less, and less to pay.
Quarles—Divine Fancies. On The Life of Man. (1633). Quoted in different forms for epitaphs.

Man’s life is like a Winter’s day:
Some only breakfast and away;
Others to dinner stay and are full fed,
The oldest man but sups and goes to bed.
Long is his life who lingers out the day,
Who goes the soonest has the least to pay;
Death is the Waiter, some few run on tick,
And some alas! must pay the bill to Nick!
Tho’ I owed much, I hope long trust is given,
And truly mean to pay all bills in Heaven.
Epitaph in Barnwell Churchyard, near Cambridge, England.

Et là commençay à penser qu’il est bien vray ce que l’on dit, que la moitié du monde ne sçait comment l’aultre vit.
And there I began to think that it is very true, which is said, that half the world does not know how the other half lives.
Rabelais—Pantagruel. Ch. XXXII.

Vivat, fifat, pipat, bibat.
May he live, fife, pipe, drink.
Rabelais—Pantagruel. Bk. IV. Ch. 53. Called by Epistemon, “O secret apocalyptique.” It suggests “Old King Cole.”

The romance of life begins and ends with two blank pages. Age and extreme old age.
Paul Jean Richter.

Der Mensch hat hier dritthalb Minuten, eine zu lächeln—eine zu seufzen—und eine halbe zu lieben: denn mitten in dieser Minute stirbt er.
Man has here two and a half minutes—one to smile, one to sigh, and a half to love: for in the midst of this minute he dies.
Jean Paul Richter—Hesperus. IV.

Jeder Mensch hat eine Regen-Ecke seines Lebens aus der ihm das schlimme Wetter nachzieht.
Every man has a rainy corner of his life out of which foul weather proceeds and follows after him.
Jean Paul Richter—Titan. Zykel 123.

Die Parzen und Furien ziehen auch mit verbundnen Händen um das Leben, wie die Grazien und die Sirenen.
The Fates and Furies, as well as the Graces and Sirens, glide with linked hands over life.
Jean Paul Richter—Titan. Zykel 140.

Nur Thaten geben dem Leben Stärke, nur Maas ihm Reiz.
Only deeds give strength to life, only moderation gives it charm.
Jean Paul Richter—Titan. Zykel 145.

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.
Jessie B. Rittenhouse—My Wage.

I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.
Jessie B. Rittenhouse—My Wage.

In speaking to you men of the greatest city of the West, men of the state which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who preeminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.
Roosevelt. At Appomattox Day celebration of the Hamilton Club of Chicago. April 10, 1899.

This life is but the passage of a day,
This life is but a pang and all is over;
But in the life to come which fades not away
Every love shall abide and every lover.
Christina G. Rossetti—Saints and Angels.

Life’s but a span, or a tale, or a word,
That in a trice, or suddaine, is rehearsèd.
The Roxburghe Ballads. A Friend’s Advice. Pt. II. Edited by Wm. Chappell.

Vita ipsa qua fruimur brevis est.
The very life which we enjoy is short.
Sallust—Catilina. I.

Ignavia nemo immortalis factus: neque quisquam parens liberis, uti æterni forent, optavit; magis, uti boni honestique vitam exigerent.
No one has become immortal by sloth; nor has any parent prayed that his children should live forever; but rather that they should lead an honorable and upright life.
Sallust—Jugurtha. LXXXV.

Say, what is life? ’Tis to be born,
A helpless Babe, to greet the light
With a sharp wail, as if the morn
Foretold a cloudy noon and night;
To weep, to sleep, and weep again,
With sunny smiles between; and then?
J. G. Saxe—The Story of Life.

Wir, wir leben! Unser sind die Stunden
Und der Lebende hat Recht.
We, we live! ours are the hours, and the living have their claims.
Schiller—An die Freude. St. 1.

Nicht der Tummelplatz des Lebens—sein Gehalt bestimmt seinen Werth.
’Tis not the mere stage of life but the part we play thereon that gives the value.
Schiller—Fiesco. III. 2.

Nicht seine Freudenseite kehrte dir
Das Leben zu.
Life did not present its sunny side to thee.
Schiller—Marie Stuart. II. 3. 136.

Wouldst thou wisely, and with pleasure,
Pass the days of life’s short measure,
From the slow one counsel take,
But a tool of him ne’er make;
Ne’er as friend the swift one know,
Nor the constant one as foe.
Schiller—Proverbs of Confucius. E. A. Bowring’s trans.

Des Lebens Mai blüht einmal und nicht wieder.
The May of life blooms once and never again.
Schiller—Resignation. St. 2.

O’er Ocean, with a thousand masts, sails forth the stripling bold—
One boat, hard rescued from the deep, draws into port the old!
Schiller—Votive Tablets. Expectation and Fulfilment.

I’ve lived and loved.
Schiller—Wallenstein. Pt. I. Piccolomini. Song in Act II. Sc. 6. Coleridge’s trans.

Das Spiel des Lebens sieht sich heiter an,
Wenn man den sichern Schatz im Herzen trägt.
The game of life looks cheerful when one carries a treasure safe in his heart.
Schiller—Wallenstein. Pt. I. Piccolomini. Act III. 4.

Sein Spruch war: leben und leben lassen.
His saying was: live and let live.
Schiller—Wallenstein’s Lager. VI. 106. 110.

From a boy
I gloated on existence. Earth to me
Seemed all-sufficient and my sojourn there
One trembling opportunity for joy.
Alan Seeger—Sonnet. I Loved.

Tota vita nihil aliud quam ad mortem iter est.
The whole of life is nothing but a journey to death.
Seneca—Consol. ad Polybium. 29.

Vita, si scias uti, longa est.
Life, if thou knowest how to use it, is long enough.
Seneca—De Brevitate Vitæ. II.
Exigua pars est vitæ quam nos vivimus.
The part of life which we really live is short.
Seneca—De Brevitate Vitæ. II.

Si ad naturam vivas, nunquam eris pauper; si ad opinionem, numquam dives.
If you live according to nature, you never will be poor; if according to the world’s caprice, you will never be rich.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. XVI.

Molestum est, semper vitam inchoare; male vivunt qui semper vivere incipiunt.
It is a tedious thing to be always beginning life; they live badly who always begin to live.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. XXIII.

Ante senectutem curavi ut bene viverem, in senectute (curo) ut bene moriar; bene autem mori est libenter mori.
Before old age I took care to live well; in old age I take care to die well; but to die well is to die willingly.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. LXI.

Non vivere bonum est, sed bene vivere.
To live is not a blessing, but to live well.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. LXX.

Atqui vivere, militare est.
But life is a warfare.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. XCVI.

Propra vivere et singulos dies singulas vitas puta.
Make haste to live, and consider each day a life.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. CI.

Non domus hoc corpus sed hospitium et quidem breve.
This body is not a home, but an inn; and that only for a short time.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. CXX.

Quomodo fabula, sic vita: non quam diu, sed quam bene acta sit, refert.
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
Seneca—Epistles. LXXXVII.

Prima quæ vitam dedit hora, carpit.
The hour which gives us life begins to take it away.
Seneca—Hercules Furens. VIII. 74.

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.
All’s Well That Ends Well. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 80.

O excellent! I love long life better than figs.
Antony and Cleopatra. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 32.

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 15.

And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe.
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 7. L. 25. Last phrase in The Taming of the Shrew. Act IV. Sc. 1; Othello. Act III. Sc. 1. The Merry Wives of Windsor. Act I. Sc. 4. As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 7. Rabelais. Bk. V. Ch. IV.

Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life at a pin’s fee.
Hamlet. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 66.

And a man’s life’s no more than to say “One.”
Hamlet. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 74.

O gentlemen, the time of life is short!
To spend that shortness basely were too long,
If life did ride upon a dial’s point,
Still ending at the arrival of an hour.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 82.

Let life be short: else shame will be too long.
Henry V. Act IV. Sc. 5. L. 23.

The sands are number’d that make up my life;
Here must I stay, and here my life must end.
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 25.

I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
Julius Cæsar. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 93.

This day I breathed first: time is come round,
And where I did begin there shall I end;
My life is run his compass.
Julius Cæsar. Act V. Sc. 3. L. 23.

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.
King John. Act III. Sc. 4. L. 108.

Thy life’s a miracle.
King Lear. Act IV. Sc. 6. L. 55.

When we are born, we cry, that we are come
To this great stage of fools.
King Lear. Act IV. Sc. 6. L. 186.

Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit;
But life, being weary of these worldly bars,
Never lacks power to dismiss itself.
Julius Cæsar. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 93.

That but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’ld jump the life to come.
Macbeth. Act I. Sc. 7. L. 4.

Had I but died an hour before this chance,
I had liv’d a blessed time; for, from this instant,
There’s nothing serious in mortality:
All is but toys; renown, and grace is dead;
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
Is left this vault to brag of.
Macbeth. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 96.

So weary with disasters, tugg’d with fortune,
That I would set my life on any chance,
To mend, or be rid on’t.
Macbeth. Act III. Sc. I. L. 113.

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow.
Macbeth. Act V. Sc. 5. L. 23.

I bear a charmed life.
Macbeth. Act V. Sc. 8. L. 12.

Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep.
Measure for Measure. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 6.

Life is a shuttle.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 20.

Her father lov’d me; oft invited me;
Still question’d me the story of my life,
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have pass’d.
Othello. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 128.

It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician.
Othello. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 309.

Life was driving at brains—at its darling object: an organ by which it can attain not only self-consciousness but self-understanding.
Bernard Shaw—Man and Superman. Act III.

J’ai vécu.
I have survived.
Sièyes. After the Reign of Terror, when asked what he had done.

We have two lives;
The soul of man is like the rolling world,
One half in day, the other dipt in night;
The one has music and the flying cloud,
The other, silence and the wakeful stars.
Alex. Smith—Horton. L. 76.

Yes, this is life; and everywhere we meet,
Not victor crowns, but wailings of defeat.
Elizabeth Oakes Smith—Sonnet. The Unattained.

“Life is not lost,” said she, “for which is bought
Endlesse renowne.”
Spenser—Faerie Queene. Bk. III. Canto XI. St. 19.

Away with funeral music—set
The pipe to powerful lips—
The cup of life’s for him that drinks
And not for him that sips.
Stevenson. At Boulogne. (1872).

To be honest, to be kind—to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends but these without capitulation—above all, on the same grim condition to keep friends with himself—here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy.
Stevenson—Christmas Sermon.

Man is an organ of life, and God alone is life.
Swedenborg—True Christian Religion. Par. 504.

Gaudeamus igitur,
Juvenes dum sumus
Post jucundam juventutem.
Post molestam senectutem.
Nos habebit humus.
Let us live then, and be glad
While young life’s before us
After youthful pastime had,
After old age hard and sad,
Earth will slumber over us.
Author Unknown. John Addington Symonds’ Trans.

O vita, misero longa! felici brevis!
O life! long to the wretched, short to the happy.

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.
Rabindranath Tagore—Gardener. 45.

… The wise man warns me that life is but a dewdrop on the lotus leaf.
Rabindranath Tagore—Gardener. 46.

So his life has flowed
From its mysterious urn a sacred stream,
In whose calm depth the beautiful and pure
Alone are mirrored; which, though shapes of ill
May hover round its surface, glides in light,
And takes no shadow from them.
Thomas Noon Talfourd—Ion. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 138.

For life lives only in success.
Bayard Taylor—Amran’s Wooing. St. 5.

Our life is scarce the twinkle of a star
In God’s eternal day.
Bayard Taylor—Autumnal Vespers.

The white flower of a blameless life.
Tennyson—Dedication to Idylls of the King,

Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And heated hot with burning fears,
And dipt in baths of hissing tears,
And batter’d with the shocks of doom,
To shape and use.
Tennyson—In Memoriam. Pt. CXVIII. St. 5.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees.
Tennyson—Ulysses. L. 6.

Life is like a game of tables, the chances are not in our power, but the playing is.
Terence—Adelphi; also Plato—Commonwealth. Quoted by Jeremy Taylor—Holy Living. Sec. VI. Of Contentedness.

No particular motive for living, except the custom and habit of it.
Thackeray. Article on Thackeray and his Novels in Blackwood’s Mag. Jan. 1854.

My life is like a stroll upon the beach.
Thoreau—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

The tree of deepest root is found
Least willing still to quit the ground;
’Twas therefore said by ancient sages,
That love of life increased with years
So much, that in our latter stages,
When pain grows sharp, and sickness rages,
The greatest love of life appears.
Hester L. Thrale—Three Warnings.

We live not in our moments or our years:
The present we fling from us like the rind
Of some sweet future, which we after find
Bitter to taste.
Richard Chenevix Trench—To.——

Life let us cherish, while yet the taper glows,
And the fresh flow’ret pluck ere it close;
Why are we fond of toil and care?
Why choose the rankling thorn to wear?
J. M. Usteri—Life let us Cherish.

Pour exécuter de grandes choses, il faut vivre comme si on ne devait jamais mourir.
To execute great things, one should live as though one would never die.

Qu’est-ce qu’une grande vie? C’est un rêve de jeunesse réalisé dans l’âge mûr.
What is a great life? It is the dreams of youth realised in old age.
Alfred de Vigny, quoted by Louis Ratisbonne in an article in the Journal des Débats, Oct. 4, 1863.

Ma vie est un combat.
My life is a struggle.
Voltaire—Le Fanatisme. II. 4.

Life is a comedy.
Walpole—Letter to Sir Horace Mann, Dec. 31, 1769. In a letter to same, March 5, 1772. “This world is a comedy, not Life.”

Life is a game of whist. From unseen sources
The cards are shuffled, and the hands are dealt.
Blind are our efforts to control the forces
That, though unseen, are no less strongly felt.

I do not like the way the cards are shuffled,
But still I like the game and want to play;
And through the long, long night will I, unruffled,
Play what I get, until the break of day.
Eugene F. Ware—Whist.

Since the bounty of Providence is new every day,
As we journey through life let us live by the way.
Walter Watson—Drinking Song.

Yet I know that I dwell in the midst of the roar of the Cosmic Wheel
In the hot collision of Forces, and the clangor of boundless Strife,
Mid the sound of the speed of worlds, the rushing worlds, and the peal
Of the thunder of Life.
William Watson—Dawn on the Headland.

Our life contains a thousand springs,
And dies if one be gone.
Strange! that a harp of thousand strings
Should keep in tune so long.
Watts—Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Bk. II. Hymn XIX.

Lo! on a narrow neck of land,
’Twixt two unbounded seas, I stand.
Secure, insensible.
Charles Wesley—Hymn. (1749).

I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.
John Wesley—Letter to Charles Wesley. (1747).

Long and long has the grass been growing,
Long and long has the rain been falling,
Long has the globe been rolling round.
Walt Whitman—Exposition. I.

I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete,
The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains jagged and broken.
Walt Whitman—Song of the Rolling Earth. 3.

Our lives are albums written through
With good or ill, with false or true;
And as the blessed angels turn
The pages of our years,
God grant they read the good with smiles,
And blot the ill with tears!
Whittier—Written in a Lady’s Album.

The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer,
The headstones thicken along the way;
And life grows sadder, but love grows stronger
For those who walk with us day by day.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox—Interlude.

Our lives are songs; God writes the words
And we set them to music at pleasure;
And the song grows glad, or sweet or sad,
As we choose to fashion the measure.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox—Our Lives. St. 102. Claimed for Rev. Thomas Gibbons. Appears in his 18th Century Book. See Notes and Queries, April 1, 1905. P. 249.

Ah! somehow life is bigger after all
Than any painted angel could we see
The God that is within us!
Oscar Wilde—Humanitad. St. 60.

The Book of Life begins with a man and a woman in a garden.
It ends with Revelations.
Oscar Wilde—Woman of No Importance. Act I.

We live by Admiration, Hope, and Love;
And, even as these are well and wisely fixed,
In dignity of being we ascend.
Wordsworth—Excursion. Bk. IV.

Plain living and high thinking are no more.
Wordsworth—Sonnet dedicated to National Independence and Liberty. No. XIII. Written in London, Sept. 1802.

For what are men who grasp at praise sublime,
But bubbles on the rapid stream of time,
That rise, and fall, that swell, and are no more,
Born, and forgot, ten thousand in an hour?
Young—Love of Fame. Satire II. L. 285.

While man is growing, life is in decrease,
And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb:
Our birth is nothing but our death begun.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night V. L. 718.

That life is long, which answers life’s great end.
Young—Night Thoughts.Night V. L. 773.

Still seems it strange, that thou shouldst live forever?
Is it less strange, that thou shouldst live at all?
This is a miracle; and that no more.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night VII. L. 1,396.

A narrow isthmus betwixt time and eternity.
Young—On Pleasure. Letter. III.