Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the most famous and influential thinkers of his time. A renowned philosopher, writer, and orator, Emerson left his mark on American culture and continues to be an inspiration to many. His words are as relevant today as they were during his lifetime, and we can all learn something from his wise insights. Here are some of the best quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson that will change the way you think.

  • Men are what their mothers made them.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • No man ever prayed heartily without learning something.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • In all my lectures, I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The highest revelation is that God is in every man.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Men’s actions are too strong for them. Show me a man who has acted, and who has not been the victim and slave of his action.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The value of a principle is the number of things it will explain.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There is always safety in valor.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The years teach much which the days never know.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Hitch your wagon to a star.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The fox has many tricks. The hedgehog has but one. But that is the best of all.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nature hates calculators.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Give a boy address and accomplishments and you give him the mastery of palaces and fortunes where he goes.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Do the thing we fear, and death of fear is certain.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A man is what he thinks about all day long.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The faith that stands on authority is not faith.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There is a tendency for things to right themselves.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Genius always finds itself a century too early.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There is a blessed necessity by which the interest of men is always driving them to the right; and, again, making all crime mean and ugly.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There are as many pillows of illusion as flakes in a snow-storm. We wake from one dream into another dream.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The first wealth is health.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • As we are, so we associate. The good, by affinity, seek the good; the vile, by affinity, the vile. Thus of their own volition, souls proceed into Heaven, into Hell.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every artist was first an amateur.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Science does not know its debt to imagination.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • When we quarrel, how we wish we had been blameless.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We are wiser than we know.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul. Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the ‘Not Me,’ that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, ‘Nature.’

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is the quality of the moment, not the number of days, or events, or of actors, that imports.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The method of nature: who could ever analyze it?

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Great men or men of great gifts you shall easily find, but symmetrical men never.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Some books leave us free and some books make us free.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Beauty is an outward gift, which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Good men must not obey the laws too well.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is a fact often observed, that men have written good verses under the inspiration of passion, who cannot write well under other circumstances.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • People disparage knowing and the intellectual life, and urge doing. I am content with knowing, if only I could know.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There is creative reading as well as creative writing.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we awake from dreams.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • America is another name for opportunity.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The earth laughs in flowers.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it, else it is none.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We do not yet possess ourselves, and we know at the same time that we are much more.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A man in debt is so far a slave.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Friendship, like the immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We are always getting ready to live but never living.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Truth is the property of no individual but is the treasure of all men.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • What is a farm but a mute gospel?

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The revelation of thought takes men out of servitude into freedom.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A man is a method, a progressive arrangement; a selecting principle, gathering his like to him; wherever he goes.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Doing well is the result of doing good. That’s what capitalism is all about.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The ancestor of every action is a thought.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We see God face to face every hour, and know the savor of Nature.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity, but in being uninteresting.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every mind must make its choice between truth and repose. It cannot have both.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Character is always known. Thefts never enrich; alms never impoverish; murder will speak out of stone walls.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • One must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We aim above the mark to hit the mark.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Power and speed be hands and feet.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It was high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, ‘always do what you are afraid to do.’

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The reason why men do not obey us, is because they see the mud at the bottom of our eye.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • I have no hostility to nature, but a child’s love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Make yourself necessary to somebody.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer. He is by constitution expensive, and needs to be rich.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Mysticism is the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every spirit makes its house, and we can give a shrewd guess from the house to the inhabitant.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every hero becomes a bore at last.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Always do what you are afraid to do.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Good is positive. Evil is merely privative, not absolute: it is like cold, which is the privation of heat. All evil is so much death or nonentity. Benevolence is absolute and real. So much benevolence as a man hath, so much life hath he.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • If you would lift me up you must be on higher ground.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • For every benefit you receive a tax is levied.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • To be great is to be misunderstood.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • What we seek we shall find; what we flee from flees from us.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • If the tongue had not been framed for articulation, man would still be a beast in the forest.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • All mankind love a lover.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There is no chance and anarchy in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A man is usually more careful of his money than he is of his principles.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Money often costs too much.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We have listened too long to the courtly Muses of Europe.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nature is the incarnation of thought. The world is the mind precipitated.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A more secret, sweet, and overpowering beauty appears to man when his heart and mind open to the sentiment of virtue.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Everything in Nature contains all the powers of Nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Manners require time, and nothing is more vulgar than haste.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The vegetable life does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that, at least one may replace the parent.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • I have thought a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • People with great gifts are easy to find, but symmetrical and balanced ones never.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There is an optical illusion about every person we meet.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • We are symbols, and inhabit symbols.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson