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Quotations about Beauty



BEAUTY.—A sun which dwells in the souls of all... ~"A Chapter of Definitions," Daily Crescent, 1848 June 23rd


No churlish moralist ever uttered a falser maxim than that "Beauty is but skin deep." Why Beauty is so deep that nobody has ever got to the bottom of it. ~Thomas Clark Henley


Beauty is ordained by nature to excite love... ~Vicesimus Knox (1752–1821), Winter Evenings, "Evening LXXIV: Of an Excessive Attachment to the World"


Beauty is a nectar which intoxicates the soul. ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851


Beauty! what can be said of it? what is it? I look around, to see some object specially beautiful, on which to expend my panegyrics. There is the deep fathomless azure above me; there is the sea, the wild, open, careering ocean; there is that bright clear eye which ever lights my solitude; there is a fair girl, a beautiful boy; there are the stars looking down from heaven; there is beauty in the human countenance, beauty in looks, beauty in thoughts, beauty in actions. What shall I say! I am bewildered; beauty overwhelms me. I am dumb, who would emulate the oratory of an archangel. I am lost in the magnitude of my theme... ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851


What is really beautiful needs no adorning. We do not grind down the pearl upon a polishing stone. ~Sataka, quoted in Maturin M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech, 1886


At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens — that letting go — you let go because you can. The world will always be there — while you sleep it will be there — when you wake it will be there as well. So you can sleep and there is reason to wake. A dead hydrangea is as intricate and lovely as one in bloom. Bleak sky is as seductive as sunshine, miniature orange trees without blossom or fruit are not defective; they are that. ~Toni Morrison, Tar Baby, 1981


Beauty unites all things, links together flower and star, with chains more certain than those of reason. The poet, the artist, thus finds the clue which guides them in their pilgrimage throughout the world. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, 1850


Madame, beauty is always queen, and the whole world her empire. ~Joseph II, to Jeanne Bécu, Countess du Barry, at Versailles  ["La beauté est toujours reine." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


The criterion of true beauty is that it increases on examination; of false, that it lessens. ~Fulke Greville (1554–1628)


Beauty is man's voucher of immorality. ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851


Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little window-sill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National parks — the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc. — Nature's sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world. ~John Muir, The Yosemite


[B]eauty is given to remind us that the soul should be kept as fair and perfect in its proportions as the temple in which it dwells. ~Lydia Maria Child, Philothea: A Romance, 1836


Beauty, its perception, its feeling, to bathe and revel in beauty, is the most complete human delight of which man is capable; and though some have been marred in this pure faculty of enjoyment, by rough contact with a host of unhandsome beings and circumstances, yet sometimes a ray of beauty will pierce to their benighted heart, and send a thrill of joy through their whole being. The man will sometimes catch a faint glimpse of that divinity, and then again be lost in the vortex of utilitarianism. ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851


But Beauty is a beam from Heaven,
That dazzles blind our reason.
~Thomas Campbell, "Senex's Soliloquy on His Youthful Idol," 1835


In the Phædrus of Plato, we find this petition in the mouth of Socrates: "O gracious Pan! and ye other gods who preside over this place! grant that I may be beautiful within; and that those external things, which I have, may be such as may best agree with a right internal disposition of mind; and that I may account him to be rich, who is wise and just." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Prayers," in The Dial, July 1842  [Quoted Socrates by J.K. Hoyt and Anna L. Ward, 1881, as: "I pray thee, O God, that I may be beautiful within." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Man, she looked as if she'd just been thrown off the crummiest freight train in the world. Yet in spite of this I got the impression of beauty, not the beauty of a movie actress, mind you, or the beauty you dream about when you're with your wife, but a natural beauty, a beauty that's almost homely because it's so real. ~Martin Goldsmith & Martin Mooney, Detour, 1945, spoken by the character Al Roberts


Beauty is but a flower,
Which wrinkles will devour...
~Thomas Nashe (c.1564–c.1601), Summer's Last Will and Testament, c.1592


Beauty and health are the chief sources of happiness. ~The Earl of Beaconsfield (Benjamin Disraeli, 1804–1881), Lothair


She was just sixteen, and not yet beautiful. She was too young for beauty. Her form was not developed; she would probably gain two or three inches in height; and her face, though exquisitely modelled, wanted the refining which comes either from a multitude of complex emotions or is given at once by some great heart-sorrow. ~Amelia E. Huddleston Barr, A Rose of a Hundred Leaves: A Love Story, 1891


A wise man once said that a woman deserved no credit for her beauty at sixteen, but beauty at sixty was her own soul's doing. ~Marie Carmichael Stopes, Married Love, 1918  [From Stopes' 1936 book Change of Life in Men and Women: As I write I recall my father, one of the wisest men who ever lived, saying to me when I was vain at sixteen, for some one had praised me, "They are only praising your youth. You can take no credit for that. Beauty at sixteen is nothing; but if you are beautiful at sixty it will be your own soul's doing, and then you may be proud of it and be loved for it." —tg]


      No beauty is lost. You get to see the real face of it after the blossoms have fallen off the tree. That's why I would rather see the face of a beautiful woman than a pretty girl.
      Girls aren't beautiful, they're pretty. Beautiful is too heavy a word to assign to a girl. Women are beautiful because their faces show that they know, they have lost something and picked up something else.
      ~Henry Rollins, Smile, You're Traveling (Black Coffee Blues Part 3), 2000


If you feel beautiful, then you are. Even if you don't, you still are. ~Terri Guillemets


Beauty is the true meaning of poetry. But after all nothing is said; and a thinker, a sensitive mind, will extract more from the simple word itself than can be embodied in a hundred varnished phrases. ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851


Sad! True, I spoke of lovely, beauteous things;
Beauty and sadness always go together.
Nature thought Beauty too rich to go forth
Upon the Earth without a meet alloy.
If Beauty had been meant to wed with gladness,
Poets had never needed this dream-life;
Each blessed man had but to look beside him,
And be more blest. How easily could God
Have made our life one consciousness of joy!
It is denied us...
~George MacDonald, Within and Without: A Dramatic Poem, 1855  [Lord Seaford —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


We try to achieve beauty by covering up all traces of age and end up looking like we tried to achieve youth by covering up all traces of beauty. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. ~Edgar A. Poe, "The Philosophy of Composition," Graham's Magazine, April 1846


The misconception with a lot of girls is that it takes two to three hours to be beautiful. I always tell girls allow yourself 30 minutes so that you can really enjoy the process, so that you can get to know you in the morning before the world gets to know you. ~Tracy Balan, Girlfriend Intervention, "Sam, Trapped in Teen Fantasy World" (season 1, episode 3), original airdate 2014 September 10th


It is beauty that begins to please, and tenderness that completes the charm. ~Bernard Le Bovier, sieur de Fontenelle (1657–1757), quoted in A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness, collected and translated by J. De Finod, 1880


Beauty is strangely various. There is the beauty of light and joy and strength exulting; but there is also the beauty of shade, of sorrow and sadness, and of humility oppressed. ~Arnold Bennett (1867–1931)


And I love beauty, all kinds of beauty, and am renewed by it constantly. Woods, and walks, and rivers, and lakes, and hills; pictures, and cathedrals, and old villages, falling into ruin gracefully and sweetly; music; children... the gallant, the courageous, the unselfish. All these things bring me delight, very real, very vivid. ~Dorothy Thompson, letter to Rose Wilder Lane, 1921, edited by William V. Holtz


It is a rare woman who can overcome her desire to remain pretty and allow herself to become beautiful. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Am I afraid to be beautiful? Afraid to claim grace as my own?
I will take away the look of ashes, and restore the look of dawn.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: XVI," A Soul's Faring, 1921


You never look at anything beautiful and holy, or think a pure and noble thought, without being ever after a larger soul. ~Frederick Lynch


Some moments are so beautiful that time stands still. ~Keith Wynn, @untamed__dreamer, Instagram post, 2019


Glamour is a shooting star, it catches your eye, but fades away, beauty is the sun always brilliant day after day. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2009


Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful. Beauty is God's hand-writing—a way-side sacrament; welcome it in every fair face, every fair sky, every fair flower, and thank for it Him, the fountain of all loveliness, and drink it in, simply and earnestly, with all your eyes; it is a charmed draught, a cup of blessing. ~Parson Lot (Charles Kingsley), "The National Gallery.—No. I." in Politics for the People, 1848 May 6th


Beauty intoxicates the eyes, as wine does the body; both are morally fatal if indulged. ~John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887), quoted in Maturin M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech, 1886


Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. ~Dr. SunWolf, @WordWhispers, tweet, 2011, professorsunwolf.com


Multitudes of people are beauty-blind to the outdoor pictures. I doubt if one in a hundred begins to take in the beauty visible on even a short walk in city or country. ~Delia Lyman Porter, "The Beauty-Blind," An Anti-Worry Recipe and Other Stories, 1905


      For most of us, knowledge of our world comes largely through sight, yet we look about with such unseeing eyes that we are partially blind. One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?"
      I remember a summer night when such a thought came to me strongly. It was a clear night without a moon. With a friend, I went out on a flat headland that is almost a tiny island, being all but surrounded by the waters of the bay. There the horizons are remote and distant rims on the edge of space. We lay and looked up at the sky and the millions of stars that blazed in darkness.... I have never seen them more beautiful: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. Once or twice a meteor burned its way into the earth's atmosphere.
      It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century or even once in a human generation, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be seen many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night perhaps they will never see it. ~Rachel Carson, "Help Your Child to Wonder," November 1956


I bring you beauty whose only use is beauty —
You cannot ride it, you cannot hitch it to your cart like mares.
It soars and sings — you cannot harvest it for your garner, nor sell it in the mart —
There is no market quotation on gossamer wings and ecstasy.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Much in a Basket: V," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923


Beauty is a delightful prejudice. ~Theocritus, quoted in Edward Parsons Day, Day's Collacon, 1884


No spring nor summer's beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face....
~John Donne, "Elegy IX: The Autumnal"


Beauty is the soul striving to make itself visible. ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851


What delights us in visible beauty is the invisible. ~Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882


The eternal war — nature's attempt to make every woman beautiful, society's insistence that she remain young and pretty. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com  [Makes me think of Annie Lennox's 1992 cover of Dubin & Warren's 1933 "Keep Young and Beautiful." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Beauty isn't so much a matter of mug as a question of thinks. ~Elbert Hubbard


I have erred so unremittingly in my fallacious conception of utility. I will look upon the rose gardens whose use is beauty.... I knew that I must plant my fields to save my body, but did I not know that I must plant my rose gardens to save my soul? ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: XVIII," A Soul's Faring, 1921


Inner beauty, too, needs occasionally to be told it is beautiful. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


A glance, that, into the deepest deep of Beauty. 'The lilies of the field,'—dressed finer than earthly princes, springing-up there in the humble furrow-field; a beautiful eye looking-out on you, from the great inner Sea of Beauty! How could the rude Earth make these if her Essence, rugged as she looks and is, were not inwardly Beauty? ~Thomas Carlyle, "The Hero as Poet," lecture, 1840


Far up the dim twilight fluttered
      Moth-wings of vapour and flame:
      The lights danced over the mountains,
      Star after star they came.
The lights grew thicker unheeded,
      For silent and still were we;
      Our hearts were drunk with a beauty
      Our eyes could never see.
~Æ (George William Russell), "The Unknown God," Homeward Songs by the Way, 1894


She was a triumph over ugliness, so often more beguiling than real beauty, if only because it contains paradox. In this case, as opposed to the scrupulous method of plain good taste and scientific grooming, the trick had been worked by exaggerating defects; she'd made them ornamental by admitting them boldly. ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1958  [about Mag Wildwood —tg]


Nothing mars the human face divine like an ugly temper, nothing adorns it like a cheerful, loving spirit. This beauty of the soul is the true beauty... It is the only enduring beauty; physical beauty soon fades, but the beauty of the soul endures forever, time writes no wrinkles on its immortal brow. ~A. A. Willits, Sunshine, or, The Secret of Happiness, c.1904


...[K]now that however ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand
Is an ugly thing, and man dissevered from the earth and stars and his history... for contemplation or in fact...
Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe....
~Robinson Jeffers, from "The Answer"


Beauty is visible music.... ~Thomas Clark Henley


I cannot dream beauty and express ugliness...
The inner rapture, like the fine gold feeling of the Nebulæ, must express itself in stars.
I who think beauty must come with it exuding from me like a fragrant nimbus.
If I conceive beauty, I must walk in loveliness.
If I conceive twilights, I must manifest in threnodies, and the jasmine's breath, with a silver, moonswept sheen.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: LX," A Soul's Faring, 1921


Annabelle brushed her hair until it shone like horse-chestnuts; her finger-nails were like pretty pink and white sea-shells... ~Ethel Bowen White, "The Friends of Annabelle Lee: A Girl Scout Story," 1918


There are moments of beauty so intense that they will touch you for life. ~Dr. SunWolf, 2015 tweet, professorsunwolf.com


Beauty deceives women in making them establish on an ephemeral power the pretensions of a whole life. ~Bignicout, quoted in Maturin M. Ballou, Pearls of Thought, 1881


Beauty is the spirit of Nature peering through the gloom of sin.... Beauty is Nature's memory of Eden. ~Thomas Clark Henley


[B]eauty is all-healing.... I will come with great draughts of remedy for my spirit! Turn on the roses!... I am body-ill from the endless flow of life's drab-grey! ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: XIX," A Soul's Faring, 1921


For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you will never walk alone...
~Sam Levenson, In One Era and Out the Other, 1973


Beauty is the shadow of God... ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851


Love beauty — it is the shadow of God over the universe. ~Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957), "Decálogo del Artista," translated from Spanish


It is a poem of pain to feel the urge toward the unfolding of the wings of beauty. It is a song of ecstasy to release it. ~Muriel Strode, interview with Ruth Snyder, "Poetess Uses Riches Oil Gave Her To Make Cinderellas Princesses," The Evening World, 1923 June 18th


Beauty… when you look into a woman's eyes and see what is in her heart. ~Nate Dircks


Did you think Beauty was so easy and merry a companion? Perhaps you were confusing Beauty with Having a Good Time. ~Christopher Morley


In all natural things can be discovered some faint trace of beauty. ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851


I was brought up to believe beauty is not worth thinking about, what's important is your soul, your mind—you don't want to be a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head. ~Garrison Keillor, We Are Still Married: Stories and Letters, 1990 edition, Part 2 — The Lake, "Who Do You Think You Are?"


Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Art"


Its edges foamed with amethyst and rose,
Withers once more the old blue flower of day:
There where the ether like a diamond glows
      Its petals fade away.
A shadowy tumult stirs the dusky air;
Sparkle the delicate dews, the distant snows;
The great deep thrills for through it everywhere
      The breath of Beauty blows.
I saw how all the trembling ages past,
Moulded to her by deep and deeper breath,
Neared to the hour when Beauty breathes her last
      And knows herself in death.
~Æ (George William Russell), "The Great Breath," Homeward Songs by the Way, 1894


Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty — they merely move it from their faces into their hearts. ~Martin Buxbaum, in National Enquirer, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1987


Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for being...
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Rhodora, on Being Asked, Whence is the Flower"


What a strange delusion to believe that beauty is goodness. A beautiful woman utters absurdities, and we hear not absurdities but wise thoughts. She does odious things, and yet we are only conscious of charm. And if she does not say or do horrid things, we convince ourselves that she is wonderfully clever and moral. ~Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata


In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibration of beauty. ~Christopher Morley, "A Slice of Sunlight"


Release the beauty in you in whatever way you see fit.... We are elementally beautiful. In the hurry and strife of life we have grown away from the real thing. It just has to be restored to us. We must brush the ashes off and put roses in our hair. ~Muriel Strode, interview with Ruth Snyder, "Poetess Uses Riches Oil Gave Her To Make Cinderellas Princesses," The Evening World, 1923 June 18th


What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn! ~Logan Pearsall Smith


Beauty and folly are sisters. ~German proverb


Beauty and folly are generally companions. ~Baltasar Gracián, translated from Spanish


I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin deep. That's deep enough. What do you want — an adorable pancreas? Personally, I find that it's work, work, work just trying to keep this top half inch in shape. ~Jean Kerr, The Snake Has All the Lines, 1960


I hope you have lost your good looks, for whilst they last any fool can adore you, and the adoration of fools is bad for the soul. No, give me a ruined complexion and a lost figure and sixteen chins and a farmyard of crow's feet and an obvious wig. ~Bernard Shaw, to Mrs. Patrick Campbell





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