Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832)
Quotations


The true, prescriptive artist strives after artistic truth; the lawless artist, following blind instinct, after an appearance of naturalness. The one leads to the highest peaks of art, the other to its lowest depths.

One of the most striking signs of the decay of art is when we see its separate forms jumbled together.

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.

Man . . . knows only when he is satisfied and when he suffers, and only his sufferings and his satisfactions instruct him concerning himself, teach him what to seek and what to avoid. For the rest, man is a confused creature; he knows not whence he comes or whither he goes, he knows little of the world, and above all, he knows little of himself.

The world is for thousands a freak show; the images flicker past and vanish; the impressions remain flat and unconnected in the soul. Thus they are easily led by the opinions of others, are content to let their impressions be shuffled and rearranged and evaluated differently.

No two men see the world exactly alike, and different temperaments will apply in different ways a principle that they both acknowledge. The same man will, indeed, often see and judge the same things differently on different occasions: early convictions must give way to more mature ones. Nevertheless, may not the opinions that a man holds and expresses withstand all trials, if he only remains true to himself and others?

He who has a task to perform must know how to take sides, or he is quite unworthy of it.

A person places themselves on a level with the ones they praise.

A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.

A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world's torrent.

A teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single good action, for one single good poem, accomplishes more than he who fills our memory with rows on rows of natural objects, classified with name and form.

A useless life is an early death.

A word spoken is a terrible thing when it suddenly utters what the heart has long allowed.

A world without love would be no world.

Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him.

Age does not make us childish, as some say; it finds us true children.

All thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to try to think them again.

All perishable is but an allegory.

Character develops itself in the stream of life.

Character is formed in the stormy billows of the world.

Character, in great and little things, means carrying through what you feel able to do.

Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless.

Common sense is the genius of humanity.

Correction does much, but encouragement does more.

All poetry is supposed to be instructive but in an unnoticeable manner; it is supposed to make us aware of what it would be valuable to instruct ourselves in; we must deduce the lesson on our own, just as with life.

All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.

All theory, dear friend, is gray, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

All things are only transitory.

All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, until they take root in our personal experience.

America, you have it better than our continent, the old one.

An unused life is an early death.

And so long as you haven't experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

Anecdotes and maxims are rich treasures to the man of the world, for he knows how to introduce the former at fit place in conversation.

Art is in itself noble; that is why the artist has no fear of what is common. This, indeed, is already ennobled when he takes it up.

Art is long, life short; judgment difficult, opportunity transient.

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.

At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.

Be above it! Make the world serve your purpose, but do not serve it.

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.

Be generous with kindly words, especially about those who are absent.

Beauty is a manifestation of secret natural laws, which otherwise would have been hidden from us forever.

Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.

Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.

Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.

Beware of dissipating your powers; strive constantly to concentrate them. Genius thinks it can do whatever it sees others doing, but is sure to repent of every ill-judged outlay.

By seeking and blundering we learn.

Certain defects are necessary for the existence of individuality.

Certain flaws are necessary for the whole. It would seem strange if old friends lacked certain quirks.



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