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Melancolia I, Albrecht Durer
The melancholic errs by turning against his own ego all the critical energies that ought to be directed outward against the powers of the status quo. ... The ideal subject under capitalism is melancholic. ~ Mladek and Edmondson

Melancholy refers to having a great sadness or depression, especially of a thoughtful or introspective nature.


  • To the pure soul by Fancy's fire refined,
    Ah, what is mirth but turbulence unholy,
    When with the charm compared of heavenly melancholy.
    • James Beattie The Minstrel; or, The Progress of Genius (1771), Book i, Stanza 55
  • Melancholy sees the worst of things,—things as they may be, and not as they are. It looks upon a beautiful face, and sees but a grinning skull.
  • Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.
  • All my griefs to this are jolly,
    Naught so damn'd as melancholy.
  • All my joys to this are folly,
    Naught so sweet as melancholy.
  • As melancholy as an unbraced drum.
  • "Most musical, most melancholy" bird!
    A melancholy bird! Oh! idle thought!
    In nature there is nothing melancholy.
    But some night-wandering man, whose heart was pierced
    With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,
    Or slow distemper, or neglected love,
    (And so, poor wretch! filled all things with himself,
    And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale
    Of his own sorrow) he, and such as he,
    First named these notes a melancholy strain.
  • With eyes upraised, as one inspired,
    Pale Melancholy sate retired;
    And, from her wild, sequester'd seat,
    In notes by distance made more sweet,
    Pour'd through the mellow horn her pensive soul.
  • Hence, all you vain delights,
    As short as are the nights
    Wherein you spend your folly!
    There's naught in this life sweet
    But only melancholy;
    O sweetest melancholy!
  • Tell us, pray, what devil
    This melancholy is, which can transform
    Men into monsters.
    • John Ford, The Lover's Melancholy, Act III, scene 1, line 107 (1628)
  • Melancholy
    Is not, as you conceive, indisposition
    Of body, but the mind's disease.
    • John Ford, The Lover's Melancholy, Act III, scene 1, line 111 (1628)
  • I shall speak of … how melancholy and utopia preclude one another. How they fertilize one another … Of the revulsion that follows one insight and precedes the next … Of superabundance and surfeit. Of stasis and progress. And of myself, for whom melancholy and utopia are heads and tails of the same coin.
    • Günter Grass, "On Stasis and Progress"' in Diary of a Snail (1972)
  • Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
    A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown;
    Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
    And Melancholy marked him for her own.
    • Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, The Epitaph (1750)
  • There's not a string attuned to mirth
    But has its chord in melancholy.
  • The melancholic errs by turning against his own ego all the critical energies that ought to be directed outward against the powers of the status quo. ... Encouraged to draw all of his aggressions inward, away from the true source of discontent, the compliant melancholic sets up a superegoic agency harboring the ego’s own former rage against the object. ... Introjection becomes a form of deflected critique. Meanwhile, the berated and debased ego, busy with its own internal insufficiencies and thoroughly discouraged from political activism, is not only fully censured but also is fashioned into a willing, productive—if ultimately impotent—participant in society. ... The ideal subject under capitalism is melancholic.
    • Klaus Mladek and George Edmondson, “A Politics of Melancholia,” in Leftist Ontology, edited by Carsten Strathausen (2009), p. 209
  • Melancholic and lovable is the trick, right? You've got to be able to show that you have these feelings. In the game of life, you get these feelings and how you deal with those feelings. What you do when you are trying to deal with a melancholy. A melancholy can be sweet. It's not a mean thing, but it's something that happens in life — like autumn.
  • Go—you may call it madness, folly,
    You shall not chase my gloom away.
    There's such a charm in melancholy,
    I would not, if I could, be gay!
    • Samuel Rogers, To——, Stanza 1. reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)
  • O melancholy!
    Who ever yet could sound thy bottom? find
    The ooze, to show what coast thy sluggish crare
    Might easiliest harbour in?
  • Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach.
  • Hence, all you vain delights,
    As short as are the nights
    Wherein you spend your folly!
    There's nought in this life sweet,
    If man were wise to see 't,
    But only melancholy,
    Oh, sweetest melancholy!
    • Dr. Strode, Song in Praise of Melancholy, as given in Malone's Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Manuscript No. 21; it appears in Dr. Strode's play, The Floating Island, attributed to Fletcher, who inserted it in The Nice Valour, Act III, scene 3, in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 505

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Adoration ~ Affection ~ Agony ~ Amusement ~ Anger ~ Anguish ~ Anxiety ~ Apathy ~ Awe ~ Boredom ~ Calmness ~ Cheerfulness ~ Compassion ~ Contempt ~ Contentment ~ Depression ~ Desire ~ Disappointment ~ Discontent ~ Disgust ~ Ecstasy ~ Embarrassment ~ Empathy ~ Enthusiasm ~ Envy ~ Euphoria ~ Fear ~ Gratitude ~ Grief ~ Guilt ~ Happiness ~ Hatred ~ Hope ~ Hostility ~ Humiliation ~ Impatience ~ Indignation ~ Insecurity ~ Jealousy ~ Joy ~ Loneliness ~ Loss ~ Love ~ Lust ~ Malice ~ Melancholy ~ Nostalgia ~ Panic ~ Passion ~ Pity ~ Pride ~ Rage ~ Regret ~ Remorse ~ Resentment ~ Sadness ~ Shame ~ Sorrow ~ Suffering ~ Surprise ~ Sympathy ~ Wonder ~ Worry