Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated.
"L'Isolement", Méditations Poétiques (1820)
O time, arrest your flight! and you, propitious hours, arrest your course! Let us savor the fleeting delights of our most beautiful days!
The Lake (1820), st. 6
I say to this night: "Pass more slowly"; and the dawn will come to dispel the night.
The Lake (1820), st. 8
Let us love the passing hour, let us hurry up and enjoy our time.
The Lake (1820), st. 9
Love alone was left, as a great image of a dream that was erased.
The Valley (1820), st. 9
Limited in his nature, infinite in his desires, man is a fallen god who remembers the heavens.
Méditations Poétiques (1820), Sermon 2
What is our life but a succession of preludes to that unknown song whose first solemn note is sounded by death?
Méditations Poétiques (1820), Second series, Sermon 15
Les utopies ne sont souvent que des verités prématurées.
Utopias are often only premature truths.
Histoire des Girondins (1847), p. 322
Experience is the only prophecy of wise men.
Speech at Mâcon (1847)
To love for the sake of being loved is human, but to love for the sake of loving is angelic.
Graziella (1849), Pt. IV, ch. 5
The more I see of the representatives of the people, the more I admire my dogs.
From Count d'Orsay's Letter to John Forster (1850)
Si la grandeur du dessein, la petitesse des moyens, l'immensité du résultat sont les trois mesures du génie de l'homme, qui osera comparer humainement un grand homme de l'histoire moderne à Mahomet?
If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls. Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs... The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire — that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?
Silence is the winding-sheet of the past: it is sometimes impious, often dangerous to raise it. But even when it is raised piously and lovingly, the first moment is a cruel one.
Book I, Note I, p. 18
My God! I have often regretted that I was born! I have often wished to fall back even into nothingness, rather than advance through so many falsehoods, so many sufferings, and so many successive losses, towards that loss of ourselves which we call death! Still, even in those moments of terrible faintheartedness, when despair overmasters reason, and when man forgets that life is a task imposed upon him to finish, I have always said to myself: "There are some things which I would regret not to have tasted — a mother's milk, a father's love, that relationship of heart and soul between brothers, household affections, joys, and even cares!" Our family is evidently our second self, more than self, existing before self, and surviving self with the better part of self. It is the image of the holy and loving unity of beings revealed by the small group of creatures who hold to one another, and made visible by feeling!
Book I, Note II, p. 19
The very eagle, destined to soar so high and to see so far, begins his life in the fissures of the rocks, and in his early days only sees the arid and sometimes fetid borders of his eyry.
Book IV, Note III, p. 50
My mother was convinced, and on this head I have retained her firm belief, that to kill animals for the purpose of feeding on their flesh is one of the most deplorable and shameful infirmities of the human state; that it is one of those curses cast upon man either by his fall, or by the obduracy of his own perversity. She believed, and I am of the same belief, that these habits of hard-heartedness towards the gentlest animals, our companions, our auxiliaries, our brethren in toil and even in affection here below; that these immolations, these sanguinary appetites, this sight of palpitating flesh, are calculated to brutalize the instincts of the heart and make them ferocious. She believed, and I am of the same belief, that this nurture, which is seemingly much more succulent and much more energetic, contains in itself active causes of irritation and putridity, which sour the blood and shorten the days of mankind. In support of these ideas of abstinence, she quoted the innumerable gentle and pious tribes of India who deny themselves all that has had life; and the strong and healthy races of the shepherds and even of the laboring classes of our fields.
Book IV, Note VIII, p. 60
My mother took me to town with her, and made me pass, as if by accident, through the yard of a slaughter-house. I saw some men, their arms naked and besmeared with blood, knocking a bull in the head; others cutting the throats of calves and sheep, and separating their still heaving limbs. Streams of smoking gore ran along the pavement. An intense feeling of pity, mingled with horror, seized upon me. I asked to be led away quickly. The thought of these scenes, the necessary preliminaries of one of those dishes of meat which I had so often seen on the table, made me take a disgust to animal food and inspired me with a horror for butchers.
Book IV, Note VIII, p. 61
Until the age of twelve, then, I only lived on bread, milk-food, vegetables, and fruit. My health was not less robust on this account, nor my growth less rapid, and it was to this diet, perhaps, that I was indebted for that purity of feature, that exquisite sensibility of feeling, and that serene gentleness of humor and character which I had preserved up to that period.
Book IV, Note VIII, p. 61
The doctrine of the cynics is the Ideal reversed, the parody of physical and moral beauty, the crime of mind, the degradation of imagination. I could not take pleasure in it. There was too much enthusiasm within me to permit me to crawl through those sinks of the brain. My nature had wings. The dangers to which I was exposed were above, not below.