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Quotations about Pleasure



Yea, alas, must turn to Nay,
      Flesh to Clay.
Chance and Time are ever twain.
Men may scoff, and men may pray,
      But they pay
Every pleasure with a pain...
~William Ernest Henley (1849–1903), "Ballade of Truisms"


Fun I love, but too much fun is of all things the most loathsome. Mirth is better than fun, and happiness is better than mirth. ~William Blake, 1799


I take it as a prime cause of the present confusion of society that it is too sickly and too doubtful to use pleasure frankly as a test of value. If we do not live for pleasure we shall soon find ourselves living for pain. If we do not regard as sacred our own joys and the joys of others, we open the door and let into life the ugliest attribute of the human race, which is cruelty... ~Rebecca West, "Pleasure Be Your Guide," 1939


There is something self-defeating in the too conscious pursuit of pleasure. ~Max Eastman


A vice is a harm I do to myself in the pursuit of pleasure. ~Dio Lewis


Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it. ~Søren Kierkegaard, translated by David F. Swenson, 1944


Plunging to the very depths of sensual pleasure, he gathered more gravel than pearls. ~Honoré de Balzac


We can often endure an extra pound of pain far more easily than we can suffer the withdrawal of an ounce of accustomed pleasure. ~Sydney J. Harris, as quoted by The Reader's Digest


Pleasure travels with a brass band, but Trouble sneaks in on rubber shoes. ~Noah Lott (George V. Hobart), The Silly Syclopedia, 1905


Pleasures are like liqueurs:  they must be drunk but in small glasses. ~Romainville, as quoted in J. De Finod, A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness, 1881


Now shall I walk
      Or shall I ride?
      "Ride," Pleasure said;
      "Walk," Joy replied.
Now what shall I —
      Stay home or roam?
      "Roam," Pleasure said;
      And Joy — "stay home."
Now shall I dance,
      Or sit for dreams?
      "Sit," answers Joy;
      "Dance," Pleasure screams.
Which of ye two
      Will kindest be?
      Pleasure laughed sweet,
      But Joy kissed me.
~W. H. Davies, "The Best Friend," Bird of Paradise, 1914


Human life is measured by pains and pleasures. Monotony sends us to sleep. ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861


What we are really living for
is the experience of life,
both the pain and the pleasure.
The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.
~Joseph Campbell


      Head... All night you tossed us from one side of the bed to the other. No sleep, no rest... In fine, my friend, you must mend your manners. This is not a world to live at random in as you do.... you must learn to look forward... Everything in this world is matter of calculation. Advance then with caution, the balance in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer; but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, and see which preponderates... Consider what advantages it presents, and to what inconveniencies it may expose you. Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it. The art of life is the art of avoiding pain: and he is the best pilot who steers clearest of the rocks and shoals with which it is beset. Pleasure is always before us; but misfortune is at our side: while running after that, this arrests us. The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves, and to suffice for our own happiness. Those, which depend on ourselves, are the only pleasures a wise man will count on: for nothing is ours which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures...
      Heart... We have no rose without its thorn; no pleasure without alloy. It is the law of our existence; and we must acquiesce. It is the condition annexed to all our pleasures... ~Thomas Jefferson, 1786


...why not seize the pleasure at once? — How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation! ~Jane Austen


No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety. ~Publilius Syrus, translated by D. Lyman


Variety is the mother of enjoyment. ~Benjamin Disraeli


BABYLON — where I go dreaming
When I weary of to-day,
Weary of a world grown grey.
~Ralph Hodgson


How the rest of the world does hate the people who have a good time. ~Noah Lott (George V. Hobart), The Silly Syclopedia, 1905


Pleasure and self-discipline must stay close friends. ~Terri Guillemets


ABSTAINER, n.  A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. ~Ambrose Bierce


Hark ye of little pleasure! See your way clearly as your destiny reveals its truth! Seek not completion lest your touch be forever dismissed! ~My wordfriend, the always conversationally frisky Tim Irwin, 2014


Perhaps all pleasure is relief. ~William S. Burroughs


There is no such thing as pure pleasure; some anxiety always goes with it. ~Ovid


For some, pleasure is a fever they can't shake. For others, it's a disease they cannot seem to catch. ~Terri Guillemets





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