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All fancies fled away. That's what happened in all deserts. It was just you, and what you believed. ~ Terry Pratchett

A desert is a region of land that is very dry because of low rainfall amounts (precipitation), often having little coverage by plants, and in which streams dry up unless they are supplied by water from outside areas. The word is also used metaphorically to designate wastelands, barren regions and unproductive societies or situations.


The desert was held in a crazed communism by which Nature and the elements were for the free use of every known friendly person for his own purposes and no more. ~ T. E. Lawrence
Inhuman solitude made of sand and God. Surely only two kinds of people can bear to live in such desert: lunatics and prophets. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
What makes the desert beautiful is that it hides, somewhere, a well. ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, in The Little Prince
They make a desert and call it peace. ~ Tacitus
  • The apocalypse is finished, today it is the precession of the neutral, of forms of the neutral and of indifference. I will leave it to be considered whether there can be a romanticism, an aesthetic of the neutral therein. I don't think so — all that remains, is the fascination for desertlike and indifferent forms, for the very operation of the system that annihilates us.
  • After nine days I let the horse run free
    'Cause the desert had turned to sea.

    There were plants and birds and rocks and things,
    There was sand and hills and rings.
    The ocean is a desert with its life underground,
    And a perfect disguise above.
    Under the cities lies a heart made of ground,
    But the humans will give no love.
  • "I’ve crossed these sands many times," said one of the camel drivers one night. "But the desert is so huge, and the horizon so distant, that they make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent." The boy intuitively knew what he meant, even without having ever set foot in the desert before. Whenever he saw the sea, or a fire, he fell silent, impressed by their elemental force. I’ve learned things from the sheep, and I’ve learned things from crystal, he thought. I can learn something from the desert, too. It seems old and wise.
  • "Once you get into the desert, there’s no going back," said the camel driver. "and, when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward. The rest is up to Allah, including the danger."
  • The desert takes our dreams away from us, and they don't always return. We know that, and we are used to it. Those who don't return become a part of the clouds, a part of the animals that hide in the ravines and of the water that comes from the earth. They become part of everything … They become the Soul of the World.
  • You neglect and belittle the desert.
    The desert is not remote in southern tropics
    The desert is not only around the corner,
    The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you,
    The desert is in the heart of your brother.
  • The wilderness and the parched land will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. Without fail it will blossom; it will rejoice and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and of Sharon. They will see the glory of Jehovah, the splendor of our God. At that time the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. At that time the lame will leap like the deer, and the tongue of the speechless will shout for joy. For waters will burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert plain. The heat-parched ground will become a reedy pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. In the lairs where jackals rested, there will be green grass and reeds and papyrus.
  • Inhuman solitude made of sand and God. Surely only two kinds of people can bear to live in such desert: lunatics and prophets. The mind topples here not from fright but from sacred awe; sometimes it collapses downward, losing human stability, sometimes it springs upward, enters heaven, sees God face to face, touches the hem of His blazing garment without being burned, hears what He says, and taking this, slings it into men's consciousness. Only in the desert do we see the birth of these fierce, indomitable souls who rise up in rebellion even against God himself and stand before Him fearlessly, their minds in resplendent consubstantiality with the skirts of the Lord. God sees them and is proud, because in them his breath has not vented its force; in them, God has not stooped to becoming a man.
  • Arabs felt no incongruity in bringing God into the weaknesses and appetites of their least creditable causes. He was the most familiar of their words; and indeed we lost much eloquence when making Him the shortest and ugliest of our monosyllables.
    This creed of the desert seemed inexpressible in words, and indeed in thought. It was easily felt as an influence, and those who went into the desert long enough to forget its open spaces and its emptiness were inevitably thrust upon God as the only refuge and rhythm of being.
  • The desert was held in a crazed communism by which Nature and the elements were for the free use of every known friendly person for his own purposes and no more. Logical outcomes were the reduction of this licence to privilege by the men of the desert, and their hardness to strangers unprovided with introduction or guarantee, since the common security lay in the common responsibility of kinsmen.
  • The desert, like every landscape, had its own persona. It was a situation of white glare by day, white glare glimmering from the sands up into the atmosphere. Beneath, faintly showed the contours of the dunes as if through mist or water. Above, a flat coppery sky rested on the framework of the glare. Sometimes a formation of rock came swimming out of the glare like a great thorn-backed fish; items at a distance were of a tindery brittle blueness unlike the fluid blueness of a watered country.
    The heat of the desert was not like a heat, but like a whittling away. There seem to sound in the desert, a high-pitched whistling, but there was no sound save the furnace wind raising the sand like smoke from the ridges, as if the dunes actually burned.
    The word of the desert was this: I am made from all the dusts of the bones of men who have perished here, and my rocks are monuments to mountains I have ground away.
    There were no green places, no springs. To this desert, such as these were wounds which it had healed with aridity. What it could not eradicate, it buried.
    By night the sand chilled. Frost scaled its surfaces so it shone with a pure black shining. It was beautiful as only such a spot could be beautiful—because it had warped the natural laws, and here it told you the hideous was fair. And was believed.
    • Tanith Lee, Death's Master (1979), Book Two, Part 1 The Garden of the Golden Daughters, Chapter 10
  • Encounters between strangers in the desert, while rare, were occasions of mutual suspicion, and masked by initial preparations on both sides for an incident that might prove either cordial or warlike.
  • The memory stole over him: a desert is what you think it is. And now, you can think clearly...
    There were no lies here. All fancies fled away. That's what happened in all deserts. It was just you, and what you believed.
    What have I always believed?
    That, on the whole, and by and large, if a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, in the end, more or less, turn out all right.
    You couldn't get that on a banner. But the desert looked better already.
  • I would say that the desert deserves to be called a temple of our God without walls. Since it is clear that God dwells in silence, we must believe that he loves the solitary expanses of the desert. ... Although God is present everywhere, and regards the whole world as his domain, we may believe that his preferred place is the solitudes of heaven and of the desert.
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