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 Est. 1998




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Quotations about Silence,
Quietness, Noise, etc.



How impressive is the eloquence of silence! Sweet indeed is the voice of woman — the fire-side song of those, who are near and dear to us. Sweet, the sounds of morning and evening twilight. Sweet, the million melodies continually floating over the bosom of Nature. But there are hours in the life of every man when the music of silence is dearer to him than all. ~Charles Lanman, "Musings," 1840


[Silence] is when we hear inwardly, sound when we hear outwardly. ~Henry David Thoreau


I have often lamented that we cannot close our ears with as much ease as we can our eyes... ~Richard Steele, "Pests of the Coffee-houses," 1711


Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation. ~James Thurber


Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality disturb us. ~Henry David Thoreau


unplug iPod
music stops abruptly
cricket song instead
~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com


The silent man is the only consistent man. ~Simeon Carter (1824–1911), Poems and Aphorisms: A Woodman's Musings, 1893


      Cultivate quietness.
      All noise is waste. All real power is silent.
      The most powerful thing in the range of human observation is the sun. He rises every morning in quiet dawn and goes down every evening in soundless sunset... we never hear from him a whisper.
      So cultivate quietness; in your speech, in your manner, in your thought, in your emotions.
      Speak habitually low. Wait for silence and attention, and then your low words will be charged with dynamic...
      Encourage quiet thoughts. Nothing shrieks if it be true. Truth is eternal, and eternal things are low-keyed...
      Often go out and watch the night sky and let its silence sink into your soul...
      Be still and great.
      ~Frank Crane, "The Art of Quietness," Christmas and the Year Round, 1917


I don't know how to express myself in words. What I feel is not translatable. I express myself better through silence. ~Clarice Lispector (1920–1977), A Breath of Life: Pulsations, written 1974–1977, published posthumously 1978, edited by Olga Borelli and Benjamin Moser, translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz, 2012  [Author —tg]


True Silence is the rest of the Mind, and is to the Spirit, what Sleep is to the Body, Nourishment and Refreshment. It is a great Virtue; it covers Folly, keeps Secrets, avoids Disputes, and prevents Sin. ~William Penn (1644–1718), Fruits of a Father's Love: Being the Advice of William Penn to His Children, Relating to their Civil and Religious Conduct, Written Occasionally Many Years Ago, and Now Made Publick for a General Good, By a Lover of His Memory, 1726  ["He being Dead yet Speaketh." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


It were vain for me to endeavor to interrupt the Silence. She cannot be done into English. For six thousand years men have translated her with what fidelity belonged to each, and still she is little better than a sealed book. A man may run on confidently for a time, thinking he has her under his thumb, and shall one day exhaust her, but he too must at last be silent... ~Henry David Thoreau


We need to pay heed to the many silences in our lives.... each silence has a character of its own. ~Kent Nerburn, "The Eloquence of Silence," Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life, 1998


The silence of a winter morning is sharper than the silence of a summer dawn. The silence of a mountain pass is larger than the silence of a forest glen. ~Kent Nerburn, "The Eloquence of Silence," Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life, 1998


Silence is a fence around wisdom. ~German proverb


Silence is wisdom's sentinel. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882


The Arctic expresses the sum total of all wisdom.
Silence. Nothing but silence...
~Walter Bauer


Silence is medication for sorrow. ~Arab proverb


There is something in the nature of silence which affects me deeply. Why it is I know not; but I do know that I love to be alone at such an hour as this. I love to forget the outward world and hold communion with the beings of the mind. ~Charles Lanman, "Musings," 1840


Good as is discourse, silence is better, and shames it. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


Silence is the parent of wise thoughts, — the mark of a well composed mind. ~John Hunt, 1771


"Where little is done, little is said," observed Sheikh Hassan, "and Silence is the mother of Truth..." ~Benjamin Disraeli


What shall I say to you? What can I say
Better than silence is?...
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Honk if you hate noise pollution. ~Bumper sticker


We must have reasons for speech but we need none for silence. ~Proverb


NOISE, n.  A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization. ~Ambrose Bierce


Silence iz one ov the hardest arguments to refute. ~Josh Billings


To preserve the silence within — amid all the noise. ~Dag Hammarskjöld, 1952, translated from the Swedish by Leif Sjöberg and W. H. Auden, Markings, 1964


Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned away from silence. Every day he invents machines and gadgets that multiply noise and distract man from essential life, from reflection, from spiritual immersion. Motor-car, airplane, radio, atom bomb are the latest great victories of progress. Man today has nothing essential to do, but he wants to do this nothing with speed and superhuman noise. He wants to be distracted, and fails to suspect that the robot who now holds the reins is driving him to the meaningless. In the midst of all the horn-blowing, howling, screeching, thundering, crashing, whistling, gnashing and chirping, he feels confident. His anxiety is calmed. His inhuman emptiness grows like a monstrous gray plant. ~Jean Arp (1887–1966), "Holy silence," translated from German by Ralph Manheim, 1948, On My Way: poetry and essays 1912…1947


Soon people will speak of silence as they do about a fairy tale. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. Cars, airplanes, radios, and atomic bombs are the latest major triumphs of progress. Man no longer has anything essential to do, but he wants to do it at top speed and with superhuman noise. He seeks recreation and never realizes that the robot steering him is actually driving him into catastrophe and nothingness. Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation. ~Jean Arp (1887–1966), "Sacred Silence," translated from French and German by Joachim Neugroschel, 1972


Now all my teachers are dead except silence...
~W. S. Merwin


The silence depressed me. It wasn't the silence of silence. It was my own silence. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, 1963


They captured in their ramble all the mysteries and magics of a March evening. Very still and mild it was, wrapped in a great, white, brooding silence — a silence which was yet threaded through with many little silvery sounds which you could hear if you hearkened as much with your soul as your ears. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915


God's poet is silence! His song is unspoken
And yet so profound, and so loud, and so far,
That it thrills you and fills you in measures unbroken—
The unceasing song of the first morning star....
~Joaquin Miller, from "The True Poet," In Classic Shades, And Other Poems, 1890


As the truest society approaches always nearer to solitude, so the most excellent speech finally falls into Silence. ~Henry David Thoreau


      When Mozart was composing at the end of the eighteenth century, the city of Vienna was so quiet that fire alarms could be given verbally, by a shouting watchman mounted on top of St. Stefan's Cathedral. As recently as just before World War II, the brass bell on top of a fire truck was loud enough to clear traffic from its path. By the 1930s, however... the siren came into common use...
      In twentieth-century society, the noise level is such that it keeps knocking our bodies out of tune and out of their natural rhythms. This ever-increasing assault of sound upon our ears, minds and bodies adds to the stress load of civilized beings trying to live in a highly complex environment. ~Steven Halpern and Louis Savary, Sound Health: The Music and Sounds That Make Us Whole, 1985


The orator... is... most eloquent when most silent. ~Henry David Thoreau


The silent man is the best to listen to. ~Japanese proverb


Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time. Paradoxical does it seem? Woe for the age, woe for the man, quack-ridden, bespeeched, bespouted, blown about like barren Sahara, to whom this world-old truth were altogether strange! ~Thomas Carlyle, "Sir Walter Scott," 1838


To silence another, first be silent yourself. ~Latin proverb


Silence was never written down. ~Italian proverb


Silence is exhilarating at first — as noise is — but there is a sweetness to silence outlasting exhilaration, akin to the sweetness of listening and the velvet of sleep. ~Edward Hoagland


Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen  ~Ruth Krauss (1901–1993), Open House for Butterflies, 1960


He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words. ~Elbert Hubbard


The best answer to anger is silence. ~German proverb


Some days, we just need to turn the quiet up.  ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com


Let us be silent, — so we may hear the whisper of the gods. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Make time for quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud. ~Author unknown


      One of the reasons I like the very late night and very early morning hours is that they are quieter. The sounds of civilization dwindle to an almost inaudible hum.... This is the best time for writing or thinking. Even when I have been awake for most of the day and should, by all normal measures, be physically and mentally exhausted, my brain seems energized by the relative quiet.
      It is, in fact, something of a mystery to me that I can think at all straight in noisy places. Perhaps my belief that I do is an illusion; I may be thinking straight only in comparison to everyone else who is trying to think in the midst of distracting din. Perhaps, too, the world is as crazy as it is – and becoming crazier – because we are attempting to use our brains in a noisy world that is becoming noisier. It is something to ponder, in the relative quiet of the hours between midnight and first light. ~Richard E. Turner (1937–2011), The Grammar Curmudgeon, a.k.a. "The Mudge," "In Search of Quiet," June 2005, sites.google.com/site/grammarmudge


If you can't get quiet enough to hear yourself, your life is too loud. ~Terri Guillemets


Unfortunately, the whole house loved him so that it had already, for half an hour earlier, been out of the morning feathers of which the greatest wings of dreams are made. Amidst the din of carriage-chains, dogs, and cockerels, he tore his tender heart away from eyes that were all love, and, as the beating of the former and the melting of the latter annoyed him, all grew still worse; for external noise stills the inner tumult of the soul. ~Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, Hesperus, or Forty-Five Dog-Post-Days: A Biography, translated from German by Charles T. Brooks, 1865


The truth is, I borrowed that phrase ["invisible strength"] from my mother, who used to say something like it to me whenever I was whining out loud.  She'd say, "Fang pi bu-cho, cho pi bu-fang," which is commonly uttered by Chinese parents, and which translates approximately to: "There's more power in silence."  What my mother intended that I understand, however, was precisely this: "No one wants to hear you make a big stink over nothing, so shut up."  The strict linguist might want to note that the literal translation of that Chinese phrase runs along these noble lines: "Loud farts don't smell, the really smelly ones are deadly silent."  ~Amy Tan, The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life, 2004, published by Penguin Group


Silence is also speech. ~Proverb


Silence is the uninterrupted sound of forever. ~Terri Guillemets


Spiteful words can hurt your feelings but silence breaks your heart. ~Author unknown





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