The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Poverty

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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

Life is indeed a pleasant road
To those whom fortune blesses;
But 'tis a thorny path to those
Whom poverty oppresses.
~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

[I]f the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin... ~Charles Darwin, August 1836 entry about slavery in Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the countries visited during the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World, under the Command of Capt. Fitz Roy, R.N., Chapter XXI

The folly of men, not their hard-heartedness, was the great cause of the world's poverty. ~Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000–1887, 1888

My poverty is not complete:  it lacks me.  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

The rich and poor are but different ventricles of the same heart of humanity. ~Horace Mann (1796–1859)

Society comprises two classes: those who have more food than appetite, and those who have more appetite than food. ~Sébastien-Roch Nicolas (Chamfort)

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. ~Norman Vincent Peale

I have seen humanity hanging on a cross. Do none of you know what sighs the sun and stars look down on in this city, that you can think and talk of anything else? Do you not know that close to your doors a great multitude of men and women, flesh of your flesh, live lives that are one agony from birth to death? Listen! their dwellings are so near that if you hush your laughter you will hear their grievous voices, the piteous crying of the little ones that suckle poverty, the hoarse curses of men sodden in misery, turned half way back to brutes, the chaffering of an army of women selling themselves for bread. With what have you stopped your ears that you do not hear these doleful sounds? For me I can hear nothing else. ~Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000–1887, 1888

The story of his youth was a series of bitternesses, as is the case with almost all distinguished men. Poverty sits by their cradle, and keeps watch over them till they have grown up; and this lean nurse remains their true companion through life. ~Heinrich Heine

We have grown literally afraid to be poor.  We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life.  If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition.  ~William James

You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.  ~P.J. O'Rourke, A Parliament of Whores

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other.  It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.  Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash.  The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.  ~John Berger

The prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.  ~William James

Seldom do people discern
Eloquence under a threadbare cloak.

It would be nice if the poor were to get even half of the money that is spent in studying them.  ~Bill Vaughan

Every man has a right to be poor.  ~Richard Jefferies

Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man's starving.  ~O. Henry, Heart of the West, 1907

You can't quit poverty.  ~Two and a Half Men, "I Can't Afford Hyenas," written by Eddie Gorodetsky and Jeff Abugov, original airdate 2 February 2004, spoken by the character Alan Harper

We didn't starve, but we didn't eat chicken unless we were sick, or the chicken was.  ~Bernard Malamud

A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.  ~W.C. Fields

Affluence creates poverty.  ~Marshall McLuhan

The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time.  ~Willem de Kooning

Poverty is the mother of crime.  ~Marcus Aurelius

The poor are poor because the rich are rich.  ~Author Unknown

Hunger makes a thief of any man.  ~Pearl S. Buck

To a man with an empty stomach food is God.  ~Gandhi

The poor often have strewn in their pathway flowers of whose fragrance the rich know nothing. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Almsgiving tends to perpetuate poverty; aid does away with it once and for all.  ~Eva Perón

Poverty is no disgrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.  ~Sydney Smith, His Wit and Wisdom, 1900

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

For every talent that poverty has stimulated it has blighted a hundred.  ~John Gardner

However mean your life is, meet it and live it:  do not shun it and call it hard names.  Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage.  Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends.  Things do not change, we change.  Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.  ~Henry David Thoreau

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.  ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, 1929

Poor and content is rich and rich enough... ~William Shakespeare, Othello, c.1604  [III, 3, Iago]

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