Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(May 25, 1803 - Dec 13, 1901)
American essayist and poet.

I fell in love with the study of English Literature when I was about 17. It was just after a major examination called Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (what a mouthful eh?) or roughly translated to Malaysian Education Certificate. Schools are out in December in Malaysia. SPM students sit for the exams in December and then get a long break till March of the following year.

I spent those 4 glorious months reading literary classics from the British Council Library. I researched quotations (doing my own version of copywork actually, before knowing there was even such a word). And promptly fell in love with Emerson's work.

Here, I list the quotes I love best. Find more at GoodReads and here.

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

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness."

"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

"Always do what you are afraid to do."

"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say."

"Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

"Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet."

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air. "

"The earth laughs in flowers."

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars."

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them. "

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis."

"Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds "

"A friend is one before whom I may think aloud."

"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer. "

"It is not the length of life, but the depth."

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm"

"In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him."

"Make the most of yourself....for that is all there is of you."

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."

And this made me laught out loud...

"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."


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