Literary Quotations
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QUOTES ON WORDS


I love and reverence the Word, the bearer of the spirit, the tool and gleaming ploughshare of progress.

THOMAS MANN, The Magic Mountain

My heart is firm, my hands calm: I need no hot words.

It was only just words, words,—they meant nothing in the world to him, I might just as well have whistled. Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.

Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. And yet it also pleases me and seems right that what is of value and wisdom to one man seems nonsense to another.

HERMANN HESSE, Siddhartha

I judge by deeds not words.

AESCHYLUS, Prometheus Bound

I swear I begin to see little or nothing in audible words,
All merges toward the presentation of the unspoken meanings of the earth,
Toward him who sings the songs of the body and of the truths of the earth,
Toward him who makes the dictionaries of words that print cannot touch.

WALT WHITMAN, Leaves of Grass

Enough: in misery can words avail?
And what so tedious as a twice-told tale?

HOMER, The Odyssey

There is a weird power in a spoken word... And a word carries far — very far — deals destruction through time as the bullets go flying through space.

JOSEPH CONRAD, Lord Jim

I prefer silence. Then you can hear thoughts and see into the past. In silence you can't hide anything ... as you can in words.

AUGUST STRINDBERG, The Ghost Sonata

None of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows ... human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT, Madame Bovary

Words are the physicians of a mind diseased.

AESCHYLUS, Prometheus Bound

Thy words are like a cloud of winged snakes;
And yet I pity those they torture not.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, Prometheus Unbound

But words are words; I never yet did hear
That the bruised heart was pierced through the ear.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Othello

The beautiful word begets the beautiful deed.

THOMAS MANN, The Magic Mountain

Big words are always punished.

SOPHOCLES, Antigone

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below;
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Hamlet

Speech is civilization itself. The word, even the most contradictory word, preserves contact — it is silence which isolates.

THOMAS MANN, The Magic Mountain

Words alone are certain good.

W. B. YEATS, The Song of the Happy Shepherd
You taught me language; and my profit on't
Is, I know how to curse.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, The Tempest

Oh, my Lolita, I have only words to play with!

VLADIMIR NABOKOV, Lolita

I have no gift of words, but I speak the truth.

RUDYARD KIPLING, The Jungle Book

I know a lady that loves talking so incessantly, she won't give an echo fair play; she has that everlasting rotation of tongue that an echo must wait till she dies before it can catch her last words.

WILLIAM CONGREVE, The Way of the World

What is the Law of the Jungle? Strike first and then give tongue.

RUDYARD KIPLING, The Jungle Book

Behind the word is chaos. Each word a stripe, a bar, but there are not and never will be enough bars to make the mesh.

HENRY MILLER, Tropic of Cancer

Talking, talking, spinning a spell, pale skin of words that closes me in like a coffin.

JOHN GARDNER, Grendel

For each person there is a sentence--a series of words--which has the power to destroy him ... another sentence exists, another series of words, which will heal the person. If you're lucky you will get the second; but you can be certain of getting the first: that is the way it works. On their own, without training, individuals know how to deal out the lethal sentence, but training is required to deal out the second.

PHILIP K. DICK, Valis

Last words are only words.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, Suttree

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