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 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Labor

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.   —ღ Terri, March 2021

I asked for a hoe, and I set me to work,
And my red blood danced as I went:
At night I rested, and looking back,
I counted my day well spent.
~Eleanor H. Porter, "Dorothy Tries Her Hand," Dawn, 1918  [poem "Contentment," verse "Labor," by Susan Betts —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

No man e'er was glorious, who was not laborious. ~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1734

I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade.  It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.  ~D.H. Lawrence

Honest labor dispels melancholy. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Heaven is blessed with perfect rest but the blessing of earth is toil.  ~Henry van Dyke

If you want to kill time, try working it to death.  ~Sam Levonson

A hand that's dirty with honest labor is fit to shake with any neighbor. ~Proverb

To labor is to pray.  ~Motto of the Benedictines

A lot of what passes for depression these days is nothing more than a body saying that it needs work.  ~Geoffrey Norman

I know of a cure for everything:  salt water... Sweat, or tears, or the sea. ~Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), "The Deluge at Norderney," 1933

Work is life's most normal plan;
Work puts worry under ban;
Work its own results doth scan;
      Just work!
Work promoteth more than wealth;
Work is tonic for the health;
Work builds strength as if by stealth;
      Just work!
~James Henry Potts, "Just Work," Every Life a Delight, 1914

Sweat cleanses from the inside.  It comes from places a shower will never reach.  ~George Sheehan

No man is born into the world whose work
Is not born with him; there is always work
And tools to work withal, for those who will....
~James Russell Lowell

Yes, I am positive that one of the great curatives of our evils, our maladies, social, moral, and intellectual, would be a return to the soil, a rehabilitation of the work of the fields.  ~Charles Wagner

God sells us all things at the price of labor.  ~Leonardo da Vinci

The happiness of men consists in life. And life is in labor. ~Leo Tolstoy

More Health is gained by wearing out Shoe-leather,
Than comes from all the Doctors put together.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Old Irish Proverbs: Of the Farm," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

I dare to be honest, and I fear no labour. ~Robert Burns, 1789

Nothing got without pains but an ill name and long nails.  ~Scottish Proverb

"I have no more than twenty acres of ground," he replied, "the whole of which I cultivate myself with the help of my children; and our labor keeps off from us the three great evils - boredom, vice, and want."  ~Voltaire

Boredom is a sickness the cure for which is work; pleasure is only a palliative.  ~Le Duc de Lévis, Mémoires

What the country needs are a few labor-making inventions.  ~Arnold Glasow

Work isn't to make money; you work to justify life.  ~Marc Chagall

It is necessary to work, if not from inclination, at least from despair.  Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself.  ~Charles Baudelaire

When I work I relax; doing nothing or entertaining visitors makes me tired.  ~Pablo Picasso

Nothing underneath the Sun
Merely Happens; Things are Done.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Industry," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

There are moments when art attains almost to the dignity of manual labor.  ~Oscar Wilde

We are closer to the ants than to the butterflies.  Very few people can endure much leisure.  ~Gerald Brenan, Thoughts in a Dry Season

Without labor nothing prospers.  ~Sophocles

Idleness begets ennui, ennui the hypochondriac, and that a diseased body.  No laborious person was ever yet hysterical.  ~Thomas Jefferson, 1787

It is only the constant exertion and working of our sensitive, intellectual, moral, and physical machinery that keep us from rusting, and so becoming useless.  ~Charles Simmons

Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things.  It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.  ~Adam Smith

Take a man out of the trenches, make him a straw boss, and he develops a belly. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Employment is nature's physician, and is essential to human happiness.  ~Galen

Here's to the man who labors and does it with a song. He stimulates his neighbors and helps the world along. ~Walt Mason

Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.  ~Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard

Everybody loves some fun, back-breaking manual labor! ~Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo video game) written by Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka, and Toshihiro Kawabata

I never knew a man in all my life who was troubled with the BLUES who had plenty of work to do and did it. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague

For me the diamond dawns are set
In rings of beauty,
And all my ways are dewy wet
With pleasant duty.
~John Townsend Trowbridge

There are only three instincts: eating-drinking, sex, and work. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Believe me, the man who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow, eats oftener a sweeter morsel, however coarse, than he who procures it by the labor of his brains. ~Washington Irving, letter to Pierre Paris Irving (nephew), 1824 December 7th

Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them. ~Joseph Joubert

People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results. ~Author unknown

Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful. ~Alice Walker

Serenity has to be three-quarters hard work to be worth having. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "The Emotions," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

Hard work, worry and whiskey are the friends of man. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

A mind always employed is always happy.  This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity.  ~Thomas Jefferson

God give me work, till my life shall end
And life, till my work is done.
~Epitaph of Winifred Holtby

A man who has no office to go to — I don't care who he is — is a trial of which you can have no conception. ~George Bernard Shaw

Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice. ~Old New England Saying  [Or, "Split your own wood..." Sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

[T]he voluntary exercise of energy would be thought so delightful, that people would not dream of handing over its pleasure to the jaws of a machine.... this kind of division of labour is really only a new and wilful form of arrogant and slothful ignorance, far more injurious to the happiness and contentment of life than the ignorance of the processes of nature.... [T]he true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life, in elevating them by art instead of handing the performance of them over to unregarded drudges, and ignoring them... ~William Morris, "The Aims of Art," 1887

Temperance and labor are the two true physicians of man.  ~Jean Jacques Rousseau

As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey. ~Thomas A. Edison

Hard work is rewarding beyond gold. Sweating is living. ~Terri Guillemets

It is better to wear out than to rust out. ~Richard Cumberland

We seem as a nation to be suffering from a mania for play.  The huge development of pleasure-chasing automobiles merely symbolizes our universal restless eagerness to be running after something, anything, that we can classify as diversion.  Under pressure from tormenting constituents our legislatures are piling up holidays.  And the cry of labor everywhere is "Cut down hours; cut down hours," until it seems as if brief, tired minutes were all that would be left for work.  The obvious deduction is that work is always something to be got rid of, as if it were a curse.  Yet life is work.  ~Author unknown, editorial from Labor Digest, June 1922, quoted in Quotations for Special Occasions by Maud van Buren

When everything is finished, the mornings are sad.  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Maybe a person's time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food.  ~Frank A. Clark

Thank God every morning when you get up, that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not.  Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle never know.  ~Charles Kingsley

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