C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


The childhood of immortality.


Life is a shuttle.


Life’s but a walking shadow.


Life is the gift of God, and is divine.


Life is good, but not life in itself.

Owen Meredith.

In the midst of life we are in death.

Burial Service.

Life is but a day at most.


Life hath quicksands; life hath snares.


Making their lives a prayer.


Life is but thought.


Man lives only to shiver and perspire.

Sydney Smith.

Life is as serious a thing as death.


Life hath more awe than death.


Whose life is a bubble, and in length a span.

Wm. Browne.

He lives long that lives well.

Thomas Fuller.

Our lives are but our marches to the grave.

Beaumont and Fletcher.

The cradle and the tomb, alas! so nigh.


A man’s life’s no more than to say, One!


That life is long which answers life’s great end.


O God, how lovely still is life!


Life and religion are one, or neither is any thing.

George MacDonald.

For life lives only in success.

Bayard Taylor.

Life is the offspring of death.

Moses Harvey.

Man is an organ of life, and God alone is life.


May you live all the days of your life.


Knowledge, love, power,—there is the complete life.


Life is a dream and death an awakening.


Life is short, art long.


The grand question of life is, Is my name written in heaven?

D. L. Moody.

Life is a tragedy.

Sir W. Raleigh.

That man lives twice that lives the first life well.


Christian life consists in faith and charity.


My life is one demd horrid grind.


And he that lives to live forever never fears dying.

William Penn.

Live virtuously, my lord, and you cannot die too soon, nor live too long.

Lady Rachel Russell.

Life itself is a bubble and a scepticism, and a sleep within a sleep.


The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.


What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue!


Let those who thoughtfully consider the brevity of life remember the length of eternity.

Bishop Ken.

The end of life is to be like unto God; and the soul following God will be like unto Him.


Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experiment uncertain, and judgment difficult.


Life is an art in which too many remain only dilettantes.

Elizabeth, Queen of Roumania.

There is nothing at all in life except what we put there.

Mme. Swetchine.

While we are reasoning concerning life, life is gone.


  • Our life is scarce the twinkle of a star
  • In God’s eternal day.
  • Bayard Taylor.

    The truest end of life is to know the life that never ends.

    William Penn.

    Life in itself is neither good nor evil, it is the scene of good or evil, as you make it.


  • This narrow isthmus ’twixt two boundless seas,
  • The past, the future—two eternities.
  • Moore.

    Life is a problem; mortal man was made to solve the solemn problem, right or wrong.

    J. Q. Adams.

    Life, like the water of the seas, freshens only when it ascends towards heaven.


  • Life’s but a means unto an end, that end,
  • Beginning, mean, and end to all things—God.
  • Bailey.

    Every man’s life is a fairy-tale, written by God’s fingers.

    Hans Christian Andersen.

    Long life is denied us; therefore let us do something to show that we have lived.


    There is no human life so poor and small as not to hold many a divine possibility.

    James Martineau.

    Life is before you,—not earthly life alone, but life—a thread running interminably through the warp of eternity.

    J. G. Holland.

  • Nor love thy life nor hate; but what thou liv’st
  • Live well; how long or short permit to heaven.
  • Milton.

    Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little enjoyed.


    I cannot rest from travel; I will drink life to the lees.


    Life is a comedy to him who thinks and a tragedy to him who feels.

    Horace Walpole.

  • And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb:
  • Our birth is nothing but our death begun.
  • Young.

    Life is a kind of sleep: old men sleep longest, nor begin to wake but when they are to die.

    De La Bruyère.

    Life, however short, is made still shorter by waste of time.


  • On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail,
  • Reason the card, but passion is the gale.
  • Pope.

    Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.

    Sir T. Browne.

    Life is a crucible. We are thrown into it and tried.


    This body is not a home, but an inn; and that only for a short time.


    The earnestness of life is the only passport to the satisfaction of life.

    Theodore Parker.

    God is the poet; men are but the actors. The great dramas of earth were written in heaven.


    Our bodies are but the anvils of pain and disease, and our minds the hives of unnumbered cares.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    We make provisions for this life as if it were never to have an end, and for the other life as though it were never to have a beginning.


    For life in general, there is but one decree: youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret.


    He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best; and he whose heart beats the quickest lives the longest.

    James Martineau.

    Life at the greatest and best is but a froward child, that must be humored and coaxed a little till it falls asleep, and then all the care is over.


  • We are such stuff
  • As dreams are made on, and our little life
  • Is rounded with a sleep.
  • Shakespeare.

    Life is like a game of whist. I don’t enjoy the game much; but I like to play my cards well, and see what will be the end of it.

    George Eliot.

    For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow.


  • I would not live alway; I ask not to stay
  • Where storm after storm rises dark o’er the way.
  • William A. Muhlenberg.

  • So may’st thou live, till like ripe fruit thou drop
  • Into thy mother’s lap.
  • Milton.

    Oft in my way have I stood still, though but a casual passenger, so much I felt the awfulness of life.


    Life, as we call it, is nothing but the edge of the boundless ocean of existence where it comes upon soundings.


    To make good use of life, one should have in youth the experience of advanced years, and in old age the vigor of youth.


    Plunge boldly into the thick of life! each lives it, not to many is it known; and seize it where you will, it is interesting.


    Yet through all, we know this tangled skein is in the hands of One who sees the end from the beginning; He shall yet unravel all.

    Alexander Smith.

    Life is a malady in which sleep soothes us every sixteen hours; it is a palliation; death is the remedy.


    The vanity of human life is like a river, constantly passing away, and yet constantly coming on.


  • We sail the sea of life; a calm one finds,
  • And one a tempest; and, the voyage o’er,
  • Death is the quiet haven of us all.
  • Wordsworth.

    Pray for and work for fullness of life above everything; full red blood in the body; full honesty and truth in the mind; and the fullness of a grateful love for the Saviour in your heart.

    Phillips Brooks.

    Let the current of your being set towards God, then your life will be filled and calmed by one master-passion which unites and stills the soul.

    Alexander Maclaren.

  • So weary with disasters tugg’d with fortune,
  • That I would set my life on any chance,
  • To mend, or be rid on ’t.
  • Shakespeare.

  • And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
  • And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
  • And thereby hangs a tale.
  • Shakespeare.

    Life is rather a state of embryo,—a preparation for life. A man is not completely born until he has passed through death.


  • Catch, then, O catch the transient hour;
  • Improve each moment as it flies;
  • Life’s a short summer—man a flower—
  • He dies—alas! how soon he dies!
  • Dr. Johnson.

    The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.


  • Oh, how this spring of life resembleth
  • The uncertain glory of an April day,
  • Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
  • And, by and by, a cloud takes all away!
  • Shakespeare.

  • They may rail at this life—from the hour I began it,
  • I’ve found it a life full of kindness and bliss;
  • And, until they can show me some happier planet,
  • More social and bright, I’ll content me with this.
  • Moore.

  • This life is but the passage of a day,
  • This life is but a pang and all is over;
  • But in the life to come which fades not away
  • Every love shall abide and every lover.
  • Christina G. Rossetti.

    The early and the latter part of human life are the best, or, at least, the most worthy of respect; the one is the age of innocence, the other of reason.


    We sleep, but the loom of life never stops; and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up to-morrow.

    Henry Ward Beecher.

  • We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
  • In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
  • We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
  • Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
  • Bailey.

  • Life, unexplored, is hope’s perpetual blaze—
  • When past, one long, involved, and darksome maze:
  • But, that some mighty power controls the whole,
  • A secret intuition tells the soul.
  • William Winter.

    Life is constantly weighing us in very sensitive scales, and telling every one of us precisely what his real weight is to the last grain of dust.


    God help us! it is a foolish little thing, this human life, at the best; and it is half ridiculous and half pitiful to see what importance we ascribe to it, and to its little ornaments and distinctions.


    Coleridge cried, “O God, how glorious it is to live!” Renan asks, “O God, when will it be worth while to live?” In Nature we echo the poet; in the world we echo the thinker.


    My notions about life are much the same as they are about travelling; there is a good deal of amusement on the road, but, after all, one wants to be at rest.


    They who are most weary of life, and yet are most unwilling to die, are such who have lived to no purpose,—who have rather breathed than lived.

    Lord Clarendon.

  • Thus at the flaming forge of life
  • Our fortunes must be wrought;
  • Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
  • Each burning deed and thought!
  • Longfellow.

    No man lives without jostling and being jostled; in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offence.


    The nearest approximation to an understanding of life is to feel it—to realize it to the full—to be a profound and inscrutable mystery.


  • Life is real, life is earnest,
  • And the grave is not its goal;
  • Dust them art, to dust returnest,
  • Was not spoken of the soul.
  • Longfellow.

  • Our life contains a thousand springs,
  • And dies if one be gone.
  • Strange! that a harp of thousand strings
  • Should keep in tune so long.
  • Watts.

  • Shall he who soars, inspired by loftier views,
  • Life’s little cares and little pains refuse?
  • Shall he not rather feel a double share
  • Of mortal woe, when doubly armed to bear?
  • Crabbe.

    What is life? A gulf of troubled waters, where the soul, like a vexed bark, is tossed upon the waves of pain and pleasure by the wavering breath of passions.

    Miss L. E. Landon.

    This span of life was lent for lofty duties, not for selfishness; not to be wiled away for aimless dreams, but to improve ourselves, and serve mankind.

    Sir Aubrey de Vere.

    Each thing lives according to its kind; the heart by love, the intellect by truth, the higher nature of man by intimate communion with God.


    A few years hence and he will be beneath the sod; but those cliffs will stand, as now, facing the ocean, incessantly lashed by its waves, yet unshaken, immovable; and other eyes will gaze on them for their brief day of life, and then they, too, will close.

    H. P. Liddon.

    If we were to live here always, with no other care than how to feed, clothe, and house ourselves, life would be a very sorry business. It is immeasurably heightened by the solemnity of death.

    Alexander Smith.

    Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.

    Sir Humphry Davy.

  • Life is a waste of wearisome hours,
  • Which seldom the rose of enjoyment adorns,
  • And the heart, that is soonest awake to the flowers,
  • Is always the first to be touch’d by the thorns.
  • Moore.

  • Since every man who lives is born to die,
  • And none can boast sincere felicity,
  • With equal mind what happens let us bear,
  • Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.
  • Dryden.

    There is no life so humble that, if it be true and genuinely human and obedient to God, it may not hope to shed some of His light. There is no life so meager that the greatest and wisest of us can afford to despise it. We cannot know at what moment it may flash forth with the life of God.

    Phillips Brooks.

    Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing, and the overtaking and possessing of a wish discovers the folly of the chase.


    Life is a mission. Every other definition of life is false, and leads all who accept it astray. Religion, science, philosophy, though still at variance upon many points, all agree in this, that every existence is an aim.


    I am convinced that there is no man that knows life well, and remembers all the incidents of his past experience who would accept it again; we are certainly here to punish precedent sins.


    Life, which all creatures love and strive to keep,—wonderful, dear and pleasant unto each, even to the meanest,—yea, a boon to all where pity is; for pity makes the world soft to the weak and noble for the strong.

    Edwin Arnold.

    We have two lives: the soul of man is like the rolling world, one half in day, the other dipt in night; the one has music and the flying cloud, the other silence and the wakeful stars.

    Alexander Smith.

  • Life’s but a walking shadow—a poor player,
  • That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
  • And then is heard no more. It is a tale
  • Told by idiot, full of sound and fury
  • Signifying nothing.
  • Shakespeare.

  • A sacred burden in this life ye bear,
  • Look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly,
  • Stand up and walk beneath it steadfastly;
  • Fail not for sorrow, falter not for sin,
  • But onward, upward, till the goal ye win.
  • Frances Anne Kemble.

    He lives long that lives well, and time misspent is not lived, but lost. Besides, God is better than His promise, if He takes from him a long lease, and gives him a freehold of greater value.


    You and I are now nearly in middle age, and have not yet become soured and shrivelled with the wear and tear of life. Let us pray to be delivered from that condition where life and Nature have no fresh, sweet sensations for us.

    James A. Garfield.

    Life, whether in this world or any other, is the sum of our attainment, our experience, our character. The conditions are secondary. In what other world shall we be more surely than we are here?


    A man is thirty years old before he has any settled thoughts of his fortune; it is not completed before fifty, he falls a-building in his old age, and dies by the time his house is in a condition to be painted and glazed.

    La Bruyère.

    How mysterious is this human life, with all its diversities of contrast and compensation; this web of checkered destinies; this sphere of manifold allotment, where man lives in his greatness and grossness, a little lower than the angels, a little higher than the brutes.

    Henry Giles.

    There are three modes of bearing the ills of life; by indifference, which is most common; by philosophy, which is most ostentatious; and by religion, which is the most effectual.


    Though we seem grieved at the shortness of life in general, we are wishing every period of it at an end. The minor longs to be at age, then to be a man of business, then to make up an estate, then to arrive at honors, then to retire.


  • Life is a weary interlude—
  • Which doth short joys, long woes include:
  • The world the stage, the prologue tears;
  • The acts vain hopes and varied fears;
  • The scene shuts up with loss of breath,
  • And leaves no epilogue but death.
  • Bishop King.

  • Love, hope, and joy, fair pleasure’s smiling train,
  • Hate, fear, and grief, the family of pain;
  • These, mix’d with art, and to due bounds confin’d,
  • Make and maintain the balance of the mind:
  • The lights and shades, whose well-accorded strife
  • Gives all the strength and color of our life.
  • Pope.

  • Say, what is life? ’Tis to be born
  • A helpless babe, to greet the light
  • With a sharp wail, as if the morn
  • Foretold a cloudy noon and night;
  • To weep, to sleep, and weep again,
  • With sunny smiles between; and then?
  • J. G. Saxe.

  • I made a posy, while the day ran by:
  • Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie
  • My life within this band.
  • But time did beckon to the flowers, and they
  • By noon most cunningly did steal away,
  • And wither’d in my hand.
  • Herbert.

  • See how the World its Veterans rewards!
  • A Youth of Frolics, an old Age of Cards;
  • Fair to no purpose, artful to no end,
  • Young without Lovers, old without a Friend;
  • A Fop their Passion, but their Prize a Sot;
  • Alive ridiculous, and dead forgot.
  • Pope.

  • Our lives are albums written through
  • With good or ill, with false or true;
  • And as the blessed angels turn
  • The pages of our years,
  • God grant they read the good with smiles,
  • And blot the ill with tears!
  • Whittier.

    Life is what we are alive to. It is not length, but breadth. To be alive only to appetite, pleasure, pride, money-making, and not to goodness and kindness, purity and love, history, poetry, music, flowers, stars, God and eternal hopes, it is to be all but dead.

    Maltbie Babcock.

    There appears to exist a greater desire to live long than to live well! Measure by man’s desires, he cannot live long enough; measure by his good deeds, and he has not lived long enough; measure by his evil deeds, and he has lived too long.


  • O, Life! how pleasant is thy morning,
  • Young Fancy’s rays the hills adorning!
  • Cold pausing Caution’s lesson scorning,
  • We frisk away,
  • Like schoolboys, at the expected warning,
  • To joy and play.
  • Burns.

    If this life is unhappy, it is a burden to us, which it is difficult to bear; if it is in every respect happy, it is dreadful to be deprived of it; so that in either case the result is the same, for we must exist in anxiety and apprehension.

    La Bruyère.

    Life is short—while we speak it flies; enjoy, then, the present, and forget the future; such is the moral of ancient poetry, a graceful and a wise moral,—indulged beneath a southern sky, and all deserving the phrase applied to it,—“the philosophy of the garden.”


  • For what are men who grasp at praise sublime,
  • But bubbles on the rapid stream of time,
  • That rise, and fall, that swell, and are no more,
  • Born, and forgot, ten thousand in an hour?
  • Young.

    The deeper men go into life, the deeper is their conviction that this life is not all. It is an “unfinished symphony.” A day may round out an insect’s life, and a bird or a beast needs no to-morrow. Not so with him who knows that he is related to God and has felt “the power of an endless life.”

    Maltbie Babcock.

    This world is not a platform where you will hear Thalberg-piano-playing. It is a piano manufactory, where are dust and shavings and boards, and saws and files and rasps and sandpapers. The perfect instrument and the music will be hereafter.


    Think of “living”! Thy life, wert thou the “pitifullest of all the sons of earth,” is no idle dream, but a solemn reality. It is thy own; it is all thou hast to front eternity with. Work, then, even as He has done, and does, “like a star, unhasting, yet unresting.”


  • Reason thus with life;
  • If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
  • That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
  • (Servile to all the skiey influences,)
  • That dost this habitation, where thou keep’st,
  • Hourly afflict.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Year chases year, decay pursues decay,
  • Still drops some joy from withering life away;
  • New forms arise, and different views engage,
  • Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage,
  • Till pitying Nature signs the last release,
  • And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.
  • Dr. Johnson.

    When I reflect upon what I have seen, what I have heard, what I have done, I can hardly persuade myself that all that frivolous hurry and bustle and pleasure of the world had any reality; and I look on what has passed as one of those wild dreams which opium occasions, and I by no means wish to repeat the nauseous dose for the sake of the fugitive illusion.


    No man can promise himself even fifty years of life, but any man may, if he please, live in the proportion of fifty years in forty,—let him rise early, that he may have the day before him, and let him make the most of the day, by determining to expend it on two sorts of acquaintances only—those by whom something may be got, and those from whom something may be learned.


    Life consists not of a series of illustrious actions or elegant enjoyments. The greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures; and we are well or ill at ease, as the main stream of life glides on smoothly, or is ruffled by small obstacles and frequent interruption.


  • Have you found your life distasteful?
  • My life did, and does, smack sweet.
  • Was your youth of pleasure wasteful?
  • Mine I saved and hold complete.
  • Do your joys with age diminish?
  • When mine fail me I’ll complain.
  • Must in death your daylight finish?
  • My sun sets to rise again.
  • Robert Browning.

    To live is not merely to breathe, it is to act; it is to make use of our organs, senses, faculties, of all those part of ourselves which give us the feeling of existence. The man who has lived longest is not the man who has counted most years, but he who has enjoyed life most. Such a one was buried a hundred years old, but he was dead from his birth. He would have gained by dying young; at least he would have lived till that time.


    Our brains are seventy-year clocks. The angel of life winds them up at once for all, then closes the cases, and gives the key into the hand of the angel of resurrection. “Tic-tac, tic-tac!” go the wheels of thought; our will cannot stop them; madness only makes them go faster. Death alone can break into the case, and, seizing the ever-swinging pendulum which we call the heart, silence at last the clicking of the terrible escapement we have carried so long beneath, our aching foreheads.


  • Life! we’ve been long together
  • Through pleasant and through cloudy weather:
  • ’Tis hard to part when friends are dear:
  • Perhaps ’twill cost a sigh, a tear;
  • Then steal away, give little warning,
  • Choose thine own time,
  • Say not good night—but in some brighter clime
  • Bid me good morning.
  • Anna Letitia Barbauld.

    We talk of human life as a journey, but how variously is that journey performed! There are those who come forth girt, and shod, and mantled, to walk on velvet lawns and smooth terraces, where every gale is arrested and every beam is tempered. There are others who walk on the Alpine paths of life, against driving misery, and through stormy sorrows over sharp afflictions; walk with bare feet and naked breast, jaded, mangled, and chilled.

    Sydney Smith.

  • A man’s ingress into the world is naked and bare,
  • His progress through the world is trouble and care;
  • And lastly, his egress out of the world, is nobody knows where.
  • If we do well here, we shall do well there;
  • I can tell you no more if I preach a whole year.
  • John Edwin.

    A minute analysis of life at once destroys that splendor which dazzles the imagination. Whatsoever grandeur can display, or luxury enjoy, is procured by offices of which the mind shrinks from the contemplation. All the delicacies of the table may be traced back to the shambles and the dunghill; all magnificence of building was hewn from the quarry, and all the pomp of ornament dug from among the damps and darkness of the mine.


  • So live that when thy summons comes to join
  • The innumerable caravan which moves
  • To that mysterious realm where each shall take
  • His chamber in the silent halls of death.
  • Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
  • Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
  • By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
  • Like one that wraps the drapery of his couch
  • About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
  • William Cullen Bryant.

  • The World’s a bubble, and the Life of Man less than a span:
  • In his conception wretched, from the womb so to the tomb;
  • Curst from his cradle, and brought up to years with cares and fears.
  • Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
  • But limns the water, or but writes in dust.
  • Bacon.

    Beneath me flows the Rhine, and, like the stream of time, it flows amid the ruins of the past. I see myself therein, and know that I am old. Thou, too, shalt be old. Be wise in season. Like the stream of thy life runs the stream beneath us. Down from the distant Alps, out into the wide world, it bursts away, like a youth from the house of his fathers. Broad-breasted and strong, and with earnest endeavors, like manhood, it makes itself a way through these difficult mountain-passes. And at length in old age, it falters, and its steps are weary and slow, and it sinks into the sand, and through its grave passes into the great ocean, which is its eternity.


  • Like to the falling of a star;
  • Or as the flights of eagles are;
  • Or like the fresh spring’s gaudy hue,
  • Or silver drops of morning dew;
  • Or like a wind that chafes the flood,
  • Or bubbles which on water stood;
  • Ev’n such is man, whose borrow’d light
  • Is straight call’d in, and paid to-night.
  • The wind blows out, the bubble dies;
  • The spring entombed in autumn lies;
  • The dew dries up; the star is shot;
  • The flight is past; and man forgot.
  • Bishop King.

  • What art thou, life, that we must court thy stay?
  • A breath one single gasp must puff away!
  • A short-lived flower, that with the day must fade!
  • A fleeting vapor, and an empty shade!
  • A stream that silently but swiftly glides
  • To meet eternity’s immeasured tides!
  • A being, lost alike by pain or joy?
  • A fly can kill it, or a worm destroy!
  • Impair’d by labor, and by ease undone,
  • Commenced in tears, and ended in a groan.
  • Brome.

  • Four seasons fill the measure of the year;
  • There are four seasons in the mind of man;
  • He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
  • Takes in all beauty with an easy span;
  • He has his Summer, when luxuriously
  • Spring’s honey’d-cud of youthful thought he loves
  • To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
  • Is nearest unto heaven; quiet coves
  • His soul hath in its Autumn, when his wings
  • He furleth close; contented so to look
  • On mists in idleness—to let fair things
  • Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
  • He has his Winter, too, of pale misfeature,
  • Or else he would forego his mortal nature.
  • Keats.

    And thus does life goes on, until death accomplishes the catastrophe in silence, takes the worn frame within his hand, and, as if it were a dried-up scroll, crumbles it in his grasp to ashes. The monuments of kingdoms, too, shall disappear. Still the globe shall move; still the stars shall burn; still the sun shall paint its colors on the day, and its colors on the year. What, then, is the individual, or what even is the race in the sublime recurrings of Time? Years, centuries, cycles, are nothing to these. The sun that measures out the ages of our planet is not a second-hand on the great dial of the universe.

    Henry Giles.