Eternity is a word often used to indicate notions of "limitless" or "endless" time, and also other concepts relating to time, including ideas of realms of Reality which are beyond any or all of the dimensions of Time and Space.
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- A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell, where his influence stops.
- Henry Brooks Adams, in The Education of Henry Adams (1907), Chapter XX
- 'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis heaven itself, that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
- Joseph Addison in Cato (1713), Act V, scene 1
- Eternity! thou pleasing dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass?
- Joseph Addison in Cato (1713), Act V, scene 1
- Then gazing up 'mid the dim pillars high,
The foliaged marble forest where ye lie,
Hush, ye will say, it is eternity!
This is the glimmering verge of heaven, and there
The columns of the heavenly palaces.
- Matthew Arnold, The Tomb
- To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
- Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, "Proverbs of Hell"
- Yes, from the mountain of eternity we shall look down, and behold the whole plain spread before us. Down here we get lost and confused in the devious valleys that run off from the rdots of the hills everywhere, and we cannot make out where the streams are going, and what there is behind that low shoulder of the hill yonder. But when we get to the summit peak and look down, it will all shape itself into one consistent whole, and we shall see it all at once.
None can comprehend eternity but the eternal God.
- Thomas Boston, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 212
- How shall the Shown pretend to ken aught of the Showman or the Show?
Why meanly bargain to believe, which only means thou ne'er canst know?
How may the passing Now contain the standing Now — Eternity? —
An endless is without a was , the be and never the to-be?
- Eternity forbids thee to forget.
- Lord Byron, in Lara, Canto I, stanza 23
- Eternity isn't some later time. Eternity isn't a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. There's a wonderful formula that the Buddhists have for the Bodhisattva, the one whose being (sattva) is illumination (bodhi), who realizes his identity with eternity and at the same time his participation in time. And the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it.
- What a sublime doctrine it is, that goodness cherished now is eternal life already entered on!
- William Ellery Channing, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 210
- Consider and act with reference to the true ends of existence. This world is but the vestibule of an immortal life. Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.
- Edwin Hubbell Chapin, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 6
- Nothing is there to come, and nothing past, But an eternal Now does always last.
- Abraham Cowley in Davideis, Book I, line 360
- Vain, weak-built isthmus, which dost proudly rise
Up between two eternities!
- Abraham Cowley, Ode on Life and Fame, line 18
- "I am but as others: I am but what I was born to be."
"Do you recognize what you were born to be? Not only a nobleman, but a gentleman; not only a gentleman, but a man — man, made in the image of God. How can you, how dare you, give the lie to your Creator?"
"What has He given me? What have I to thank Him for?"
"First, manhood; the manhood His Son disdained not to wear; worldly gifts, such as rank, riches, influence, things which others have to spend half an existence in earning; life in its best prime, with much of youth yet remaining — with grief endured, wisdom learnt, experience won. Would to Heaven, that by any poor word of mine I could make you feel all that you are — all that you might be!"
A gleam, bright as a boy's hope, wild as a boy's daring, flashed from those listless eyes — then faded.
"You mean, Mr. Halifax, what I might have been. Now it is too late."
"There is no such word as 'too late,' in the wide world — nay, not in the universe. What! shall we, whose atom of time is but a fragment out of an ever-present eternity — shall we, so long as we live, or even at our life's ending, dare to cry out to the Eternal One, 'It is too late!'"
- Dinah Craik, John Halifax, Gentleman (1857), Chapter 36
- If we consider eternity, into that time never entered; eternity is not an everlasting flux of time, but time is as a short parenthesis in a long period; and eternity had been the same as it is, though time had never been.
- John Donne, Book of Devotions, Meditation 14 (1624)
- At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
- Beyond the grave! As the vision rises how this side dwindles into nothing — a speck — a moment — and its glory and pomp shrink into the trinkets and baubles that amuse an infant for a day. Only those things, in the glory of this light, which lay hold of immortality, seem to have any value.
- Randolph Sinks Foster, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 212
- Every situation, every moment — is of infinite worth; for it is the representative of a whole eternity.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as quoted in Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann and Soret (1850) translated by John Oxenford, Vol. I, p. 87
- The tree will not only lie as it falls, but it will fall as it leans. What is the inclination of my soul?
- Joseph John Gurney, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 213
- I was suddenly arrested by what seemed to be an awful voice proclaiming the words, "Eternity! Eternity! Eternity!" It reached my very soul — my whole man shook — it brought me like Saul to the ground. The great depravity and sinfulness of my heart were set before me, and the gulf of everlasting destruction to which I was verging. I was made to bitterly cry out, "If there is no God — doubtless there is a hell." I found myself in the midst of it.
- Stephen Grellet, in Memoirs of the Life and Gospel Labors of Stephen Grellet (1860), p. 20
- Eternity invests every state, whether of bliss or of suffering, with a mysterious and awful importance, entirely its own. It gives that weight and moment to whatever it attaches, compared to which all interests that know a period fade into absolute insignificance.
- Robert Hall, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 212
- Eternity has no gray hairs! The flowers fade, the heart withers, man grows old and dies, the world lies down in the sepulchre of ages, but time writes no wrinkles on the brow of Eternity.
- Reginald Heber, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 213
- A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.
- αἰὼν παῖς ἐστι παίζων, πεττεύων· παιδὸς ἡ βασιληίη. ~ Heraclitus
- Eternity is a child playing, playing checkers; the kingdom belongs to a child.
- Quoted by Hippolytus, Refutation of all heresies, IX, 9, 4 (Fragment 52), as translated in Reality (1994), by Carl Avren Levenson and Jonathan Westphal, p. 10
- Eternity is a mere moment, just long enough for a joke.
- Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927), as translated by Basil Creighton (1929), p. 97
- A permanent state of transition is man's most noble condition. When we say an artist is in a state of transition, many believe that we are belittling. In my opinion when people speak of an art of transition this indicates a better art and the best that art can give. Transition is a complete present which unites the past and the future in a momentary progressive ecstasy, a progressive eternity, a true eternity of eternities, eternal moments. Progressive ecstasy is above all dynamic; movement is what sustains life and true death is nothing but lack of movement, be the corpse upright or supine. Without movement life is annihilated, within and without, for lack of dynamic cohesion. But the dynamism should be principally of the spirit, of the idea, it should be a moral dynamic ecstasy, dynamic in relation to progress, ecstatic in relation to permanence.
- Juan Ramón Jiménez, "Heroic Reason", as translated by H. R. Hays, in Selected Writings of Juan Ramon Jimenez (1957) edited by Eugenio Florit, p. 231
- With all kinds of clever inventions of comfortability, they want to teach people to make it as bright as possible around them in temporality so that they would no longer be able to see eternity. Or even if they do not want to do away completely with the conception of eternity and the happiness of eternity, they still want to degrade it in such a way that no eternal difference (indeed, can anything be more meaningless) remains between the temporal and the eternal. What difference, then, can remain? It seems to be beyond dispute that just as there is a difference of humanity between a human being and an animal, there must be an eternal difference between the temporal and the eternal.
- Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, 1847, Hong p. 310
- Summarum summa est æternum.
- The sum total of all sums total is eternal.
- Lucretius in De Rerum Natura, III, 817. Also in Book V, 362
- Transiency is stamped on all our possessions, occupations, and delights. We have the hunger for eternity in our souls, the thought of eternity in our hearts, the destination for eternity written on our inmost being, and the need to ally ourselves with eternity proclaimed by the most short-lived trifles of time. Either these things will be the blessing or the curse of our lives. Which do you mean that they shall be for you?
- Alexander Maclaren, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 207
- Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.
- Norman Fitzroy Maclean in A River Runs Through It
- The way I thought of time was I thought of it like a river. And so I thought of it as flowing toward its lowest level. And I thought of history as a river and Eternity as the ocean. So naturally history flows downhill to reach Eternity. I also like the fact that when the descent in elevation is rapid, the river runs faster, and when the landscape is almost flat, the river broadens out and meanders. So it was to preserve this idea of time as a fluid. The other reason is a mathematical reason. It has to do with the fact that if we have novelty moving downward, then the maximum of novelty is zero.
- Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
To lay thir just hands on that golden key
That opes the palace of Eternity.
To such my errand is; and but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.
- A moment standing still for ever.
- James Montgomery, as quoted in "Eternity" in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 237-38
- This speck of life in time's great wilderness
This narrow isthmus 'twixt two boundless seas,
The past, the future, two eternities!
- From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.
- Edvard Munch, quoted in Sustainable Landscape Construction: A Guide to Green Building Outdoors (2007) by William Thompson and Kim Sorvig, p. 30
- As the ancient hills are icons of eternity, the river is the icon of time.
- Robert C. Neville, in Eternity and Time's Flow (1993), Ch. 7 : Times Flow p. 95
- Those spacious regions where our fancies roam,
Pain'd by the past, expecting ills to come,
In some dread moment, by the fates assign'd,
Shall pass away, nor leave a rack behind;
And Time's revolving wheels shall lose at last
The speed that spins the future and the past:
And, sovereign of an undisputed throne,
Awful eternity shall reign alone.
- Petrarch, Triumph of Eternity, line 102
- The time will come when every change shall cease,
This quick revolving wheel shall rest in peace:
No summer then shall glow, not winter freeze;
Nothing shall be to come, and nothing past,
But an eternal now shall ever last.
- Petrarch, Triumph of Eternity, line 117
- The youth of the soul is everlasting, and eternity is youth.
- Jean Paul Richter, reported in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 213
- Was man von der Minute ausgeschlagen
Gibt keine Ewigkeit zurück.
- Eternity gives nothing back of what one leaves out of the minutes.
- Friedrich Schiller, Resignation, Stanza 18
- Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley in Adonais, LII
- The Pilgrim of Eternity, whose fame
Over his living head like Heaven is bent,
An early but enduring monument,
Came, veiling all the lightnings of his song In sorrow.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley in Adonais, XXX
- Boone gulped and swallowed. He spoke to The Hat.
"You said the Highway to Eternity?"
That is not what I said. I said the Highway of Eternity.
"Small difference," Boone told him.
Not so small as you might think.
- Clifford D. Simak, Highway of Eternity (1986)
- We feel and experience ourselves to be eternal. (Latin: "Sentimus experimurque nos æternos esse.")
- Baruch Spinoza in Ethics, Part 5, 23n
- It is a commonplace that eternity is not an endless prolongation of time, has nothing to do with time. Eternity is a characteristic of the mystical experience. The word eternity doubtless meant originally endlessness of time, which must count, therefore, as its literal meaning. But in its religious and metaphysical use it is a metaphor for the characteristic of the experience. For in that experience time drops away and is no more seen.
- Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end: we fancy that we have always possessed what we love, so difficult is it to imagine how we could have lived without it.
- Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, in Corinne (1807), Bk. 8, Ch. 2, as translated by Isabel Hill (1833)
- Variant translation: It is certainly through love that eternity can be understood; it confuses all thoughts about time; it destroys the ideas of beginning and end; one thinks one has always been in love with the person one loves, so difficult is it to conceive that one could live without him.
- As translated by Sylvia Raphael (1998)
- For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.
- I am any man's suitor,
If any will be my tutor:
Some say this life is pleasant,
Some think it speedeth fast,
In time there is no present,
In eternity no future,
In eternity no past.
We laugh, we cry, we are born, we die.
Who will riddle me the how and the why?
- Alfred Tennyson in The "How" and the "Why"
- Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
- R. S. Thomas, in "The Bright Field" in Laboratories of the Spirit (1975), p. 60
- somewhere within sight
of the tree of poetry
that is eternity wearing
the green leaves of time.
- R. S. Thomas, in "Prayer" in Later Poems (1983)
- And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night I, line 66
- "Eternity" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy on relationships between God and Time.