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Holy lightning strikes all that's evil
Teaching us to love for goodness sake. ~ Jon Anderson

Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity usually accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms; this page is for quotes about lightning, or where lightning is used as a metaphor.


When lightning comes down, I can feel it wanting to come to me. Grandma said it was God. She said the white fire was God. ~ Victor Salva, in Powder
The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. ~ Mark Twain
Dr. Franklin, astonishing as it must have appeared, contrived actually to bring lightning from the heavens, by means of an electrical kite, which he raised when a storm of thunder was perceived to be coming on. ~ Joseph Priestley
  • Don't mistake vivacity for wit, thare iz about az much difference az thare iz between lightning and a lightning bug.
    • Josh Billings, Josh Billings' Old Farmer's Allminax, "January 1871". Also in Everybody's Friend, or; Josh Billing's Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor (1874), p. 304
    • Comparable to : The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.
      • Mark Twain, in a letter of 15 October 1888, as quoted The Art of Authorship: Literary Reminiscences, Methods of Work, and Advice to Young Beginners (1890) by George Bainton
  • It has apparently been known for a long time that high objects are struck by lightning. There is a quotation of Artabanus, the advisor to Xerxes, giving his master advice on a contemplated attack on the Greeks—during Xerxes’ campaign to bring the entire known world under the control of the Persians. Artabanus said, “See how God with his lightning always smites the bigger animals and will not suffer them to wax insolent, while these of a lesser bulk chafe him not. How likewise his bolts fall ever on the highest houses and tallest trees.” And then he explains the reason: “So, plainly, doth he love to bring down everything that exalts itself.”
    Do you think—now that you know a true account of lightning striking tall trees—that you have a greater wisdom in advising kings on military matters than did Artabanus 2400 years ago? Do not exalt yourself. You could only do it less poetically.
  • As frequent Mention is made in the News Papers from Europe, of the Success of the Philadelphia Experiment for drawing the Electric Fire from Clouds by Means of pointed Rods of Iron erected on high Buildings, &c. it may be agreeable to the Curious to be inform'd, that the same Experiment has succeeded in Philadelphia, tho' made in a different and more easy Manner, which any one may try, as follows.
  • The thunderstorm is a constant phenomenon, raging alternately over some part of the world or the other. Can a single man or creature escape death if all that charge of lightning strikes the earth?
    • Kalki Krishnamurthy, in "Sivakozhundu of Tiruvazhundur" as translated in Kalki : Selected Stories (1999)
  • When a thunderstorm comes up, I can feel it inside. When lightning comes down, I can feel it wanting to come to me. Grandma said it was God. She said the white fire was God.
  • Electricity produced by natural causes is another source of energy which might be rendered available. Lightning discharges involve great amounts of electrical energy, which we could utilize by transforming and storing it. Some years ago I made known a method of electrical transformation which renders the first part of this task easy, but the storing of the energy of lightning discharges will be difficult to accomplish. It is well known, furthermore, that electric currents circulate constantly through the earth, and that there exists between the earth and any air stratum a difference of electrical pressure, which varies in proportion to the height.
  • The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.
    • Mark Twain, as quoted in Deduction : Introductory Symbolic Logic (2002) by Daniel A. Bonevac, p. 56
  • Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work.
    • Mark Twain, as quoted in Living Like Benjamin : Making Dreams Come True (2007) by Brad Borden, p. 123
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