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Quotations about Faces



It is the common wonder of all men, how, among so many millions of faces, there should be none alike... ~Thomas Browne


Face.— The silent echo of the heart. ~"Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words," The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824


A man finds room in the few square inches of the face for the traits of all his ancestors; for the expression of all his history and his wants. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Behavior"


For there are mystically in our faces certain characteristics which carry in them the motto of our souls, wherein he that cannot read A B C may read our natures. ~Thomas Browne


It is in unguarded moments that the features are the tell-tales of the mind. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882


I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful. ~Author unknown


Her hair was white as snow, and the tears of ninety years seemed to have made deep furrows in her cheeks. ~Charles Lanman, "Musings," 1840


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


      An eye can threaten like a loaded and levelled gun, or can insult like hissing or kicking; or in its altered mood by beams of kindness it can make the heart dance with joy... Eyes are bold as lions, — roving, running, leaping, here and there, far and near. They speak all languages... What inundation of life and thought is discharged from one soul into another, through them! The glance is natural magic...
      The eyes of men converse as much as their tongues, with the advantage that the ocular dialect needs no dictionary, but is understood all the world over... If the man is off his centre, the eyes show it... There are eyes, to be sure, that give no more admission into the man than blueberries. Others are liquid and deep, — wells that a man might fall into; — others are aggressive and devouring... There are asking eyes, asserting eyes, prowling eyes; and eyes full of fate, — some of good and some of sinister omen. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Behavior"


All the passions unveil themselves in the countenance, and gleam from the eye. ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861


...his face reflects the kindliness of his nature. A keen sense of humor is revealed in the twinkle of the eyes behind the glasses. ~Edwin Carty Ranck, "Interesting People: Charles E. Bullard, A Famous Photographer of Cats," The American Magazine, April 1915


He was a man of a mild and benignant aspect, and could scarcely have seen half a century, yet his hair was blanched and thin, his face wrinkled and sallow, but lighted up by a pair of eyes such as the proudest beauty might have envied; they were of the darkest hazel, and though of soft and winning expression, shone with all the brilliancy of intellectual fire... ~Richard Harris Barham (1788–1845), The Rubber of Life  [Originally published under the name Dalton Ingoldsby. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet, c.1600  [III, 1, Hamlet]


The young governess's heart was troubled. Time had considerably altered the appearance of Mary Norman. But many would have declared that she was lovelier than ever. Her form was a little fuller; but the advancing maturity of womanhood had bestowed on her an additional grace. Her face was paler, but the settled expression, which was no longer that of melancholy, but of quiet composure, gave that face a distinction which was even more attractive than the sprightlier air of girlhood. Her dark grey eyes had no longer that sparkle, but they had a subdued and searching look of earnestness. ~J. Palgrave Simpson, For Ever and Never, 1884  [a little altered —tg]


To say that Mrs. Wentworth was "fair, fat, and forty" would have been to malign her, and give the impression of a caricature in words. She was fair—full-made, as became a matron—she was, if not forty, verging on that age. In fact, she was a handsome woman of a "certain age," eminently lady-like. She had in her face that expression of kindly feeling which is perhaps the greatest charm of the true lady. ~J. Palgrave Simpson, For Ever and Never, 1884  [a little altered —tg]


A frown — The war-signal of the face. ~Charles Searle, Look Here!, 1885


Aside from proper exercise and keeping in as good health as one can, not abusing the body with excesses of any kind, there is really little more one can do about it. As for one's face, it is the way nature and the chance meeting of one's progenitors have made it. Happy is he who has good bones. They last. People with soft round faces and indeterminate features are just unlucky; the best they can do is to keep a pleasant expression. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "The body — and something more," A View from the Hill, 1957


A woman's eyes are so essential a thing with me; I turn to them so often, and find they give me so much to think about, that if I were nothing but head, women might, for all I cared, be nothing but eyes. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"  [Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Janet... has a knot of soft, crimpy, brown hair with a thread of gray in it, a sunny face with rosy cheeks, and big, kind eyes as blue as forget-me-nots. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915


And the Lady? She was old but she never seemed to age. Except her eyes, which had once been the deep, rich blue of a Spring sky, were now faded like the skies over Winter. ~Jane Yolen, "The Lady's Garden," Here There Be Unicorns, 1994


The life of the face is the eye. ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861


Face of a thousand wisdoms  ~Joseph Howard McGibbeny (c.1891–1970)  [title of a photograph of an elder Southwest American Indian —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


The plain border of a Quaker cap encircled that mild old face, with bands of silver hair parted on a forehead marked with many lines. But the eyes were clear and sweet; winter roses bloomed in the cheeks, and an exquisite neatness pervaded the small figure... piety and peace made old age lovely, and the mere presence of this tranquil soul seemed to fill the room with a reposeful charm none could resist. ~Louisa May Alcott, "Beginning Again," Work: A Story of Experience, 1873


So there wasn't but one thing for me to do, and I screwed up my face and stuck out my tongue at her. ~Ellis Parker Butler, "Teacher's Pet," 1915


The eye is a crystal entrance to a spiritual palace, and lets us glance for a moment into the inviolate sanctuary of soul. If you watch the eyes of a sensitive person you may read a perpetual soliloquy. ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861


Among connoisseurs of innuendo, no device is regarded with more respect than the raised eyebrow. Scorn and skepticism, complacency and amusement, suspicion and disdain…all lie within its purview. ~Alfred de Musset, Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess, 1833, translated from the French by John Baxter, 2006


My daddy's face is a study. Winter moves into it and presides there. His eyes become a cliff of snow threatening to avalanche; his eyebrows bend like black limbs of leafless trees. His skin takes on the pale, cheerless yellow of winter sun; for a jaw he has the edges of a snowbound field dotted with stubble; his high forehead is the frozen sweep of the Erie, hiding currents of gelid thoughts that eddy in darkness... And he will not unrazor his lips until spring. ~Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye, 1970


Take, for instance, those whiskery what-nots which act as eaves for his eyes... reluctantly, we must admit that the facial filaments aforesaid have of late been maltreated by certain false females; it is only too true that the beautiful Beatrice has had them peremptorily plucked and supplanted by pseudonymous substitutes which look as near to Nature as whiskers on a whale; but in the main, man shrinks from such vile vandalism. Scotland, for instance, refuses to be brow-beaten... no matter how Scotch a Scotsman may be, he'll never scotch his eyebrows—he realises that Mother MacNature produced these bushy buffers on the Border of his brows to prevent his bonnet from skidding all over his map... ~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), "More Madness and Fuddled Philosophy: An Eye-Browse," in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1930 June 1st


The face is more honest than the mouth will ever be. ~Daphne Orebaugh


hair like roaming waves of the sea
eyes reflecting the light of heaven—
studious, compassionate, soulful—
pythagorean shiny nose
laugh lines loved into place
a beard that let the cat in
face aglow with manly health,
honesty and freedom
~Terri Guillemets, "Side Portrait of Edwin Markham"


Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face. ~Albert Camus, The Fall, translated from the French by Justin O'Brien, 1956


...after a certain number of years our faces become our biographies. We get to be responsible for our faces. ~Cynthia Ozick, interview with Tom Teicholz, 1985, for The Paris Review, theparisreview.org





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