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Quotations about Solitude


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I shut the door behind me. At once, I felt better. There is something fundamental in the desire to have a door to close, sealing out the rest of the world. ~Abby Geni, The Lightkeepers, 2016


Man loves company even if it is only that of a small burning candle. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799)


My hope that I would have a whole series of empty days, days without interruption, days in which to think and laze, (for creation depends as much on laziness as on hard work), was, of course, impossible. ~May Sarton, 1976  [Exactly. Never a moment to ourselves! –tg]


For it may be said, in general, that every man will love or hate solitude — in other words, his own society — just in proportion as he is worth anything in himself. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "The Ages of Life," Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891


In a soulmate we find not company but a completed solitude. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt
In solitude, where we are least alone...
~Lord Byron


      Age is such an island, such a canyon, with such satisfactions, such subtle beauty of its own that one must seek it out and can find it only when he himself is reduced to his essential being. Then at last one is no longer afraid of being alone, indeed solitude has come to be a prize cherished and longed for. One comes to feel as did Antaeus about the earth, that he must rest upon it, gather strength from it. I cannot any more go for a long time without being alone. There are certain times and places when I can find that aloneness that is truly restoring to the soul — when I am in the deep woods, the only sound the light fall of a leaf, or when I sit by rushing water that deafens my ears, or when I walk a deserted beach and the waves come rolling in and break and come again.
      When such places are not within reach, there is always the sky above, so vast and mysterious that I must gather myself into a close tight entity in self-defense, lest I be lost in that vastness. Or, it is possible to be most of all alone, to possess one's self most completely in the silence that comes in the middle of a wakeful night, in those hours that most people dread. I lie easy and relaxed in the gentle dark saying, Here am I, myself alone, my spirit free, mind alert, body free from pain, or at least having no more pain than I am able to bear... Here am I, I whisper in the dark. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "Come out, come out, whoever you are!," A View from the Hill, 1957


And I love to be alone. It doesn't bother me one bit. I'm my own company, though I wouldn't want to be alone because nobody loves me or cares for me. I can spend time happily alone because I know somebody is going to walk in the door. I'm rather cheerful by nature — it's my best defense against the aches on the inside. ~Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993)


Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world. ~Hans Margolius, Aphorismen zur Ethik, translated from German  [Information on the web regarding Herrn Margolius is extremely sparse, so in response to inquiries I'm glad to provide a short author bio here. Hans Adolph Manfred Margolius was a German philosopher born in Krotoschin, Provinz Posen on September 12th 1902. In the 1930s he was a librarian in Berlin and then a lecturer at the Lehrhaus, a center for Jewish learning, before emigrating to the United States of America in 1939. He died on December 29th 1984 in Miami, Florida. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


But on the first day came veiled spirits from all hours into his soul... a soft intoxication, which the atmosphere of nature, like that of a wine-store, communicated to him, spread itself, like an enchanted solitude around his soul. ~Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, Hesperus, or Forty-Five Dog-Post-Days: A Biography, translated from German by Charles T. Brooks, 1865


There is a charm in Solitude that cheers
A feeling that the world knows nothing of
A green delight the wounded mind endears
After the hustling world is broken off...
~John Clare (1793–1864)


Towards evening, they wound down precipices, black with forests of cypress, pine and cedar, into a glen so savage and secluded, that, if Solitude ever had local habitation, this might have been "her place of dearest residence." ~Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, 1794


No soul can grow to its full stature without spells of solitude. ~Marie Carmichael Stopes


I saw above a sea of hills
A solitary planet shine,
And there was no one near or far
To keep the world from being mine.
~Sara Teasdale, "Autumn Dusk"


      It is good society that would cause me to part company with myself. Haven't you known people who dread to be alone a minute, who fret and fuss when forced back on their own haunches, if only for an hour? I have never felt that way. Even as a boy I could enjoy being alone. A particularly discerning aunt used to call me "Young-Man-Well-Pleased-With-Himself." I didn't mind. I suppose she thought me selfish.
      Probably I am. Desire to participate in a social organisation is, no doubt, inherent in all of us. At any rate everywhere we find men combining in social units. But, after all, there are as many units in each social unit as there are individuals. When it comes down to the last analysis, when we stand face to face with death, each man has to take care of himself. ~George A. Dorsey, Young Low, 1917


Scarce heard, beneath yon arching trees,
      The silver-crested ripples pass;
And, like a mimic brook, the breeze
      Whispers among the grass.
Here from the world I win release,
      Nor scorn of men, nor footstep rude,
Break in to mar the holy peace
      Of this great solitude.
Here may the silent tears I weep
      Lull the vexed spirit into rest,
As infants sob themselves to sleep
      Upon a mother's breast...
~Lewis Carroll, "Solitude"


Finding solitude in the concrete jungle is powerful and peaceful. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2009


I live alone, but I am never lonely
In these luxuriant chambers filled with flowers,
Italian vases, old engravings, pictures.
Surrounded with these relics of past ages,
That still retain the odour of your presence,
I live alone, but I am never lonely...
For you are here and you will never leave me,
And time can touch me not, nor any sorrow.
~George Moore, "The Portrait: The Triumph of the Soul," Pagan Poems, 1881


One of the pleasantest things in the world is going on a journey; but I like to go by myself. I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, nature is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when alone... When I am in the country, I wish to vegetate like the country... The soul of a journey is liberty; perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases... I want a little breathing-space... Give me the clear blue sky over my head, and the green turf beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours' march to dinner — and then to thinking!... I laugh, I run, I leap, I sing for joy... Instead of an awkward silence, broken by attempts at wit or dull common-places, mine is that undisturbed silence of the heart which alone is perfect eloquence... Is not this wild rose sweet without a comment? Does not this daisy leap to my heart, set in its coat of emerald? ~William Hazlitt (1778–1830), "On Going a Journey"


My cave is snug and sweet—but sweet—
      And the lamps are burning bright,
And Margot says I'll catch my death
      If I go on the roof, to-night.
But I say that I want to see my star;
      For something has gone wrong
In the way that I hitched my wagon on,
      And I promise I won't stay long...
I know I'm a fool, but what can I do
      When the house top's calling me?...
I'm a king, on my own house top,
      And the moon is all my own;
There's never a soul in sight to-night
      And it's good to be alone...
~Jean Wright, "A Fool on a Roof: Et in Arcadia Ego"


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


...there are some times,
some places where you can think more easily,
more clearly,
and where you can talk to people, or to yourself;
it's good to find them
and spend quiet time there
(a desert hermit, temporarily)
before you come back to another day to
begin again tomorrow…
~Ken Sekaquaptewa and Candy St. Jacques, Sahuaro, 1970, yearbook of the Associated Students of Arizona State University


A lyric touch of the solitude... ~Bliss Carman, "The Joys of the Road," Songs from Vagabondia, 1894


No matter how reclusive we tend to be, we picture the after-life as a community of souls. It is one thing to seek privacy in this life; it is another to face eternity alone. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


I'm not anti-social. I'm pro-solitude. ~Author unknown


There are many youths, and some men, who most earnestly devote themselves to solitary studies, from the mere love of the pursuit. ~James G. Percival


I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at trees, flowers, the sky. ~Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993)


...the few hours of physical solitude
that i can find are precious.
too often i waste that time on sleep...
~Ken Sekaquaptewa and Candy St. Jacques, Sahuaro, 1970, yearbook of the Associated Students of Arizona State University


Walking in silence was nice... Being with you, it's a lot like being alone. ~Dickinson, "There's a certain Slant of light," 2019, written by Hayes Davenport & Alena Smith  #infj  [S1, E8, Ben Newton to Emily. And he meant that in a good way! Probably something only introverts would take as a compliment. —tg]


Solitude never hurt anyone. Emily Dickinson lived alone, and she wrote some of the most beautiful poetry the world has ever known — then went crazy as a loon. ~The Simpsons, "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson," 1997, written by Richard Appel  [S8, E25, Lisa —tg]


      Between 1830 and 1886 there lived in New England one of the strangest and most baffling women that ever wandered out of fairyland. Her name was Emily Dickinson... Of heavenly lineage, she was lightning and fragrance, all mixed up with a smile. Half-elf, half-angel, yet in all ways a woman, she loved solitude, but she was no morbid recluse... She was fascinating, shy as a wild bird, aloof but never alone. She was happy, but she was never able to disengage herself from "that eternal pre-occupation with death," as she called it. Not that she feared death, but only wondered at it, and at the "overtakelessness" of those who had accomplished it.
      Her poetry has a touch of lightness, and yet at times she drops a plummet into the depths of these strange souls of ours, as when she writes:
            There is a solitude of space,
            A solitude of sea,
            A solitude of death, but these
            Society shall be,
            Compared with that profounder site,
            That polar privacy,
            A soul admitted to itself:
            Finite infinity.

      Emily Dickinson was wise in that she faced the first and primal fact about our human lot — that we live alone. We often think of the mystery and dignity and possibility of life, but we do not always think of its loneliness. Society crowds us on all sides, and yet we are alone... We live in a network of social relations, we are surrounded by friends who influence us for good or tempt us to evil, but our choices are our own, we are responsible for ourselves, and we live with the person we are making. Arnold is right when he says, "We mortal millions live alone." ~Rev. Charles E. Diehl, "Living With Ourselves," 1917


I can be perfectly happy by myself. With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy? ~Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905


There are days when you seek the company of your solitude, and your solitude just wants to be left alone. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. ~John Muir, The Yosemite


...I got fascinated by silence; by what happens to the human spirit, to identity and personality when the talking stops, when you press the off button, when you venture out into that enormous emptiness. ~Sara Maitland, How to Be Alone, 2014  [I've put this on the Solitude page rather than Silence, because in this portion of her book it feels more solitude'ish to me. Maitland has actually been criticized for not distinguishing better between the two, but she also explains more about this in the book. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Solitude is a form of meditation. ~Terri Guillemets


You will not find a soulmate in the quiet of your room. You must go to a noisy place and look in the quiet corners. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in the morning, when nobody calls. ~Henry David Thoreau, "Solitude," Walden, 1854


I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a humble bee... or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house. ~Henry David Thoreau, "Solitude," Walden, 1854


I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. ~Henry David Thoreau, "Solitude," Walden, 1854


I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. I would rather ride on earth in an ox-cart with a free circulation, than go to heaven in the fancy car of an excursion train and breathe a malaria all the way. ~Henry David Thoreau, "Economy," Walden, 1854


Thoreau, as citizen, as friend, and as naturalist, pushed farther in towards the center of solitude than has any kindred lonely spirit. ~Mark Van Doren, The Solitude of Henry David Thoreau, 1915


When the superficial wearies me, it wearies me so much that I need an abyss in order to rest. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


Solitude coaxes magical things from our souls. ~Terri Guillemets


The reason old souls enjoy spending time alone is because they never really are. ~Author unknown



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