The Quote Garden ™
I dig old books. ™
Quotations about Water:
Ocean, Beach, Sea, Lake, River, &c.
The tides are in our veins... ~Robinson Jeffers, "Continent's End"
I will not worry and will think only good things. When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused. And much is so. ~Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), letter to Clara Rilke, 1903, translated by Jane Bannard Greene and M. D. Herter Norton, 1945
The sea was an abstract painting: a band of azure sky above a swatch of indigo water above a ribbon of wet brown sand above a smear of hazel beach... It seemed like the kind of place you might encounter in dreams: too raw and wild to be real, yet somehow familiar at the same time, an ancient impression belonging to my species, imprinted in my genetic code, a knowledge deeper than memory. ~Abby Geni, The Wildlands, 2018
Life is as inexorable as the sea. ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "A Moonglade," first published 1875–76
At the far edge of my view was the ocean... I could not make sense of its size and grandeur. It was not a pond, not a lake, but a second sky, bluer and more chaotic than the one above it. ~Abby Geni, The Wildlands, 2018
How suggestive the sounds of the thunder of waves upon rocks and headlands in a storm. They seem to fill the soul with the noblest of all music. I know nothing more exciting than a storm at sea. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation II: Footsteps on the Sand," 1850 [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Beauty sleeps on the calm dreamy bosom of the ocean, or lives in the dance of its wild waves. ~Thomas Clark Henley, "Beauty," 1851
The earth requires the use of its two-thirds water to keep its face clean. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897
I know of a cure for everything: salt water... Sweat, or tears, or the sea. ~Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), "The Deluge at Norderney," 1933
The sun beats lightning on the waves,
The waves fold thunder on the sand...
~Hart Crane (1899–1932), "Voyages: I"
These vagabonds in the sky have picked up the shifting weight of pressure heavy oceans, and hurled them down again upon the land, only to have the rivers return to the sea, and repeat once more the endless cycle. ~John Martin Scott, "Vagabonds of the Sky…The Aquarians," Arizona Highways, August 1972, arizonahighways.com #clouds
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither...
Sailor bold, be not too bold;
The Ship is Young, the Sea is Old.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Sailors," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924
If we tarry a little while, we shall behold a sunset on the ocean,—a sight worth traversing a kingdom to see. How finely the sands glow in the amber light, what a beautiful purple gleams on the crests of the tiny waves! The colours have changed as if by the moving of a fairy wand—a happy union of fire and its great antagonist. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation II: Footsteps on the Sand," 1850 [A little altered. Edith speaking. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
[The river's] not like the ocean. The land holds it, and yet it goes on its way, in peace, bound and yet free. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, Tammy Out of Time, 1958
Unvexed by Dust or Jar of Wheels or Hooves,
A River is a Silver Road that moves.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Brooks," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924
To the landlubber all seas are more or less the same, salt and wet, rough or smooth… You have to be master of yourself before you can be master of the sea... ~R. A. Dick (Josephine A. Campbell Leslie, 1898–1979), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, 1945
My connection to the earth is reinforced through the rhythm of the waves. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2012
It were a quare bit o’ masonry the old lighthouse. If I shut my eyes, I can see her now, the sea sweeping over the lantern in clouds of spray. We tried to plant a bit o’ a garden under the lea, but the grasping, greedy ocean ’ud find us out, and the more earth we took out to the lighthouse rock the more it made for the sea to swallow. ~H. Somerset Bullock, "Jess: A Lighthouse Heroine," in Home Words for Heart and Hearth, 1893
"Take your shoes off," purred the ocean waves. ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com
Boats I see upon the river;
Some, so small they look like toys!
I can, easily, imagine
They are manned by tiny boys.
Then, I see the boats that duty
Takes far off across the sea;
And I send my prayers to Heaven
That protected they will be.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "The Picture I See from my Window," 1940s
Such were the vague images and dreams of the past and future that floated over his mind... It grew afternoon, and the radiance of evening came on. The window of the cell overlooked the broad Mediterranean, all one blue glitter of smiles and sparkles; the white-winged boats were flitting lightly to and fro, like gauzy-winged insects in the summer air... Capri lay like a half-dissolved opal in shimmering clouds of mist; Naples gleamed out pearly clear in the purple distance; and Vesuvius, with its cloud-spotted sides, its garlanded villas and villages, its silvery crown of vapour, seemed a warm-hearted and genial old giant lying down in his gorgeous repose and holding all things on his heaving bosom in a kindly embrace. So was the earth flooded with light and glory... ~Harriet Beecher Stowe, "The Monk's Struggle," Agnes of Sorrento, 1862
It seems to me as though caverns told stories of the past, while the ocean speaks of the eternity which is to come. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation I: The Cavern," 1850 [Edith speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
And never a ship sails out of the bay
But carries my heart as a stowaway!
~Roselle Mercier Montgomery, "The Stowaway," 1923
There is no more thrilling sensation I know of than sailing. It comes as near to flying as man has got to yet—except in dreams. The wings of the rushing wind seem to be bearing you onward, you know not where. You are no longer the slow, plodding, puny thing of clay, creeping tortuously upon the ground; you are a part of Nature! Your heart is throbbing against hers; your limbs grow light! The voices of the air are singing to you. The earth seems far away and little; and the clouds, so close above your head, are brothers, and you stretch your arms to them. ~Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), 1889
The sea made music the whole day long
That changed at night to a slumber song...
~Harriet L. Childe-Pemberton, Nenuphar: The Four-fold Flower of Life, 1911
The eyes of sea-folk are not ordinary eyes — they can pierce the darkness wherein the vision of land-folk becomes lost or arrested; and the sea, and the sky over it, and the coast-line, however black and dim — however low-lying or distant — have lessons of their own. ~Bram Stoker, The Watter's Mou', 1895
These are things that make your back broad, which isn't something Nature gives everyone. I read somewhere — and the person who wrote this was not a mountaineer but a sailor — that the sea's only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. Now, I don't know much about the sea, but I do know that that's the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head. ~Primo Levi, "Bear Meat," 1961, translated from the Italian by Alessandra Bastagli, 2007
The poetry of brooks
Is deeper than their prose...
~G. A. Studdert Kennedy, "The Truth of May," The Sorrows of God and Other Poems, 1924
I became conscious of a strange, milky radiance, which grew and brightened as the sight adjusted itself, until I saw that the waves washing round the boat were of a silvery blue, which is like nothing else, lambent, incandescent, flashing with the softest glow imaginable. One thinks of the shimmering flashes in the heart of an opal, of the flame of phosphorus, of the most delicate colour on a blue bird's throat — there is no similitude for that which has no match, nothing else upon the earth which is not gross when set beside these waves of purest light, impalpable, unsubstantial, and radiantly clear. "Che colore?" I asked in wonder; and the boatman, no less awed by the strange beauty, answered very low, "Il cielo." ~Arthur H. Norway, "Capri," Naples: Past and Present, 1901
After much discussion I was given, in strict confidence, a simple prescription: "The only remedy for seasickness is to sit on the shady side of an old brick church in the country." ~William Edmund Aughinbaugh, I Swear by Apollo: A Life of Medical Adventure, 1938
Long before we saw the sea, its spray was on our lips, and showered salt rain upon us. ~Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
OCEAN, n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man — who has no gills. ~Ambrose Bierce
I find myself at the extremity of a long beach. How gladly does the spirit leap forth, and suddenly enlarge its sense of being to the full extent of the broad, blue, sunny deep! A greeting and a homage to the Sea! I descend over its margin, and dip my hand into the wave that meets me, and bathe my brow. That far-resounding roar is Ocean's voice of welcome. His salt breath brings a blessing along with it. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne
May see the sea hath cast upon your coast. ~William Shakespeare, Pericles, c. 1608 [II, 1, Pericles]
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. ~Loren Eiseley
I swim down through liquid green heavens, down through the poem of the sea. ~Clare Boothe Luce
There is a purifying and uplifting potency in the winds, a potency in the waters — ocean and river and great rain. Our civilization has dealt with all these so successfully that we are apt to think of them as docile servants, or perhaps as petty annoyances, and we lose the sense of their power unless we deliberately go out to meet them in their own domain and let them have their way with us. Then, indeed, they sweep us out of ourselves for a season, and that is good. ~Elisabeth Woodbridge, "In the Rain," 1911
For all that has been said of the love that certain natures (on shore) have professed to feel for it, for all the celebrations it has been the object of in prose and song, the sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness, and playing the part of dangerous abettor of world-wide ambitions. ~Joseph Conrad, The Mirror of the Sea
The sea hath no King but God alone. ~Dante Gabriel Rossetti
I can see the sun rise over the ocean, and watch it set over the bay... I have never been on intimate terms with the sea before, and my rapture is engrossing and deep. It seems as if almost nothing else were worth while, and I recall snatches of Homer's and Virgil's rhymes of the deep... ~Laura L. Livingstone (Herbert Dickinson Ward), Lauriel: The Love Letters of an American Girl, 1901
I have a large seashell collection which I keep scattered on the beaches all over the world. Maybe you've seen it. ~Steven Wright, A Steven Wright Special, 1985, stevenwright.com
If I melt dry ice, can I swim without getting wet? ~Steven Wright, A Steven Wright Special, 1985, stevenwright.com
Your life is connected to the sea, no matter where you live — even if you have never smelled fresh sea air, watched a puffin feed its young, or listened to the humpback whale's beautiful song. ~Ron Hirschi, Save Our Oceans and Coasts, 1993 [a little altered —tg]
With every drop of water you drink, with every breath you take, you are connected to the sea, no matter where on Earth you live. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated by life in the sea. ~Sylvia A. Earle, The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One, 2009
And Thou, vast Ocean! on whose awful face
Time's iron feet can print no ruin-trace,
By breezes lull'd, or by the storm-blasts driv'n,
Thy majesty uplifts the mind to heaven.
~Robert Montgomery, The Omnipresence of the Deity
It was as if she lived only on clear, salty air, and when the day came for her to pass away, she would probably do exactly that. Just take a step to one side. Dissolve into a north-westerly wind as it whirled around the lighthouse at North Point, then out across the sea. ~John Ajvide Lindqvist, Harbor, 2008, translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, 2010 [Anna-Greta —tg]
...rivers when they go wandering down to the sea usually leave their mountain purity behind them. ~John C. Van Dyke, The Desert, 1901
We sat where the Waterfall gaily flings
Her diamond chaplet down,
And who has a voice like hers that sings
To the silver harp with the jewelled strings...
~Harriet L. Childe-Pemberton, Nenuphar: The Four-fold Flower of Life, 1911
Ancient oceanic proverb: The enemy of my anemone is my frenanemone. ~Author unknown, c.2015
A summer river
being crossed, how pleasing!
Sandals in my hands.
~Buson (1716–1784), translated by Yuki Sawa & Edith M. Shiffert, 1978
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.
~Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902), translated by Harold G. Henderson, 1958
It has been said that in human life there are moments worth ages... in the climate of England there are, for the lover of Nature, days which are worth whole months, — I might say — even years. One of these favoured days sometimes occurs in spring-time, when that soft air is breathing over the blossoms and new-born verdure... But it is in autumn that days of such affecting influence most frequently intervene... the lights and shadows are more delicate; the colouring is richer and more finely harmonized; and, in this season of stillness, the ear being unoccupied, or only gently excited, the sense of vision becomes more susceptible of its appropriate enjoyments... the presence of a lake is indispensable to exhibit in perfection the beauty of one of these days; and he must have experienced, while looking on the unruffled waters, that the imagination, by their aid, is carried into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable. The reason of this is, that the heavens are not only brought down into the bosom of the earth, but that the earth is mainly looked at, and thought of, through the medium of a purer element. The happiest time is when the equinoxial gales are departed; but their fury may probably be called to mind by the sight of a few shattered boughs, whose leaves do not differ in colour from the faded foliage of the stately oaks from which these relics of the storm depend: all else speaks of tranquility; — not a breath of air, no restlessness of insects, and not a moving object perceptible — except the clouds gliding in the depths of the lake, or the traveller passing along, an inverted image, whose motion seems governed by the quiet of a time, to which its archetype, the living person, is, perhaps, insensible: — or it may happen, that the figure of one of the larger birds, a raven or a heron, is crossing silently among the reflected clouds, while the voice of the real bird, from the element aloft, gently awakens in the spectator the recollection of appetites and instincts, pursuits and occupations, that deform and agitate the world, — yet have no power to prevent Nature from putting on an aspect capable of satisfying the most intense cravings for the tranquil, the lovely, and the perfect, to which man... is subject. ~William Wordsworth, "Description of the Scenery of the Lakes: Climate," in A Guide through the District of the Lakes in the North of England [quoted from the fifth edition, 1835 —tg]
I am inland born
That the sea sings somewhere
I cannot forget...
~George Elliston, "Sea Longing," Through Many Windows, 1924
ISLAND A place where the bottom of the sea sticks up through the water. ~Charles Wayland Towne, The Foolish Dictionary, Executed by Gideon Wurdz, Master of Pholly, Doctor of Loquacious Lunacy, etc., 1904
O lonely, lonely sky and sea—
Where time is a wind that plays between,
Blowing the colored centuries by,
Tiny tragedies, quaint and mean—
~Marjorie Meeker, "Lonely Sky and Sea," c.1921
The mellow air was full of the purr of the sea... ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915
There's a tarry smell, a wanderlust smell, and whenever the wind is blowing
The perfume of the open sea comes pungent on the air...
~Edmund Leamy, "A Song of Streets," America, 1921 January 8th
The great Colorado River is a veritable dragon — loud in its dangerous lair, defiant and fierce. From the tiny rivulets of its snowy birth to the ferocious tidal bore where it dies in the sea, it wages a ceaseless battle as sublime as it is terrible and unique. ~Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, The Romance of The Colorado River, 1902 [modified —tg]
My child came to me with the equinox,
The wild wind blew him to my swinging door,
With flakes of tawny foam from off the shore,
And shivering spindrift whirled across the rocks...
Therefore the sea's swift fire is in his veins,
And in his heart the glory of the sea;
Therefore the storm-wind shall his comrade be,
That strips the hills and sweeps the cowering plains.
October, shot with flashing rays and rains,
Inhabits all his pulses; he shall know
The stress and splendor of the roaring gales,
The creaking boughs shall croon him fairy tales,
And the sea's kisses set his blood aglow,
While in his ears the eternal bugles blow.
~May Gillington Byron (1861–1936), "The Storm-Child"
Say, you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries — stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever. ~Herman Melville, Moby Dick
The salt of those ancient seas is in our blood, its lime is in our bones. Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war. ~Loren Eiseley
Can the sea be empty of salt,
Or love of sorrow?
~John Robinson Jeffers, "Salt Sand"
Fourier states that, in the progress of the world, the ocean is to lose its saltness, and acquire the taste of a peculiarly flavored lemonade. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne [Charles Fourier. "Aigresel." Drinkable seawater. —tg]
Maggie breathed a prayer as with trembling hand she unloosed the rope... By contrast with the terrible turmoil amid the rocks, the great waves of the open sea were safety itself. No one to whom the sea is an occupation ever fears it in the open; and this fisher's daughter, with the Viking blood in her veins, actually rejoiced as the cockle-shell of a boat, dipping and jerking like an angry horse, drove up and down the swell of the waves. ~Bram Stoker, The Watter's Mou', 1895
With maze diversified it woos the plain,
And in meanders winds its wand'ring train;
Branch'd in a thousand rills with sinuous flight;
Now lost recedes—now sparkles on the sight....
Base rill! condemn'd in solitude to stray,
And 'midst the grass in idle lab'rynths play.
Say Loit'rer! whither these vagaries tend?
These busy nothings, destitute of end?
But hence, begone! high Fortune is my guide,
And Ocean waits my tributary tide...
~Dorat, "The Rivulets," translated from French by Charles A. Elton, 1804
And the ocean's moan was full of my own pain... ~John Robinson Jeffers, "And the Stars"
Were I to name the lake anew,
I would christen it Lake Blue!
The sky into the water slipped,
And faded where the edges dipped:
The little breezes the big wind sent,
Stirred the colors to give accent!
~Jennie L. Richard, "Lake Blue," in Arizona Highways, February 1965
Driftwood always has a story to tell — born in the forest, adrift at sea, an old age sunning on the beach. ~Handcrafted America [S3, E7, 2017, Jill Wagner, Tom Gauntt's Chesapeake Pen Company]
The ocean, white and vast,
Like some pale, ghostly past...
~Josephine Butterfield Walcott (1840–1906), "Beyond the Night," World of Song, 1878
Dawn-boy went down into the canyon, down, down, down, until he stood beside River who ran swiftly by, tossing his feathers and singing:
"Here am I where you see me strong and brown.
Still, I am far away, where yesterday I was.
Here am I shouting and tossing my feathers.
Still, I am far away, where I have not yet gone.
I am a drop of dew dripping to earth from a leaf.
I am a sea. Here am I, where yesterday
I was, where someday I will be."
~Harry Behn (1898–1973), The Painted Cave, 1957
Take this Sea, whose diapason knells
On scrolls of silver snowy sentences,
The sceptred terror of whose sessions rends
As her demeanors motion well or ill,
All but the pieties of lover's hands.
And onward, as bells off San Salvador
Salute the crocus lustres of the stars,
In these poinsettia meadows of her tides,—
Adagios of islands, O my Prodigal,
Complete the dark confessions her veins spell.
Mark how her turning shoulders wind the hours,
And hasten while her penniless rich palms
Pass superscription of bent foam and wave,—
Hasten, while they are true,—sleep, death, desire,
Close round one instant in one floating flower.
~Hart Crane (1899–1932), "Voyages: II"
The sea has no mood except that of the sky and of its winds. ~Alice Meynell, "Cloud"
Beach air is magical. ~Terri Guillemets
Tasting the briny sea air blowing in off the Sound... cleansed her of the grime of the past. ~Abigail Reynolds, Pemberley by the Sea: A Modern Love Story, Pride and Prejudice Style, 2008
Oh, down the quick river our galley is going,
The wind of the canyon our loose hair is blowing.
Billows flinging their foam in a glory of light,
A wave leaps high up growing suddenly white.
The weight of the whole world is light as a feather,
And the peaks rise in silence and westerly flee:
Oh, the world and the poet are singing together,
And from the far cliff comes a sound of the sea.
~Edwin Markham, "A Song at the Start" [a little altered —tg]
The sea... chants a hundred variations on its mighty theme, as it laps among the rocks, crashes against the cliffs, stirs the eternally restless shingle, or breaks in a thunderous roar on days of storm. Even the foam-bubbles dying on the shore murmur a faint, hissing little tune as their life ebbs out in a gleam of rainbow mystery. The eternal wail of the gulls is the recurrent motif of forlorn questioning in the great sea-symphony. ~Dallas Kenmare Browne Kelsey (c.1905–1970), "The Music of Nature," 1931
On a windswept hill
By a billowing sea,
My destiny sits
And waits for me.
~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
There is nothing so desperately monotonous as the sea, and I no longer wonder at the cruelty of pirates. ~James Russell Lowell
I love seamen, they are brave and free as the ocean... ~A. Kinross, The Fearsome Island, Being a Modern Rendering of the Narrative of One Silas Fordred, Master Mariner of Hythe, 1896
The lakes are something which you are unprepared for; they lie up so high, exposed to the light, and the forest is diminished to a fine fringe on their edges, with here and there a blue mountain, like amethyst jewels set around some jewel of the first water, — so anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be. ~Henry David Thoreau
Down through the valley and over the hill,
Where the bluebird calls to the whippoorwill;
Where the buttercups and the daisies grow,
And the Summer breezes, so gently, blow,
There is a tiny brook that wends its way
As it twists and it turns, where'er it may;
And over each glistening stone it brings
To us the rippling song that it sings.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "A Spot I Loved," 1940s
I was sitting on the patio, watching Dennis hurling himself in sparkling cannonballs into the deep end of the pool. A year before, I couldn't pry him loose from the steps in the shallow end; now he was an apprentice fish. ~David Gerrold, The Martian Child, 2002
A person should go out on the water on a fine day to a small distance from a beautiful coast, if he would see Nature really smile. Never does she look so delightful, as when the sun is brightly reflected by the water, while the waves are gently rippling, and the prospect receives life and animation from the glancing transit of an occasional row-boat, and the quieter motion of a few small vessels. But the land must be well in sight; not only for its own sake, but because the immensity and awfulness of a mere sea-view would ill accord with the other parts of the glittering and joyous scene. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
It is that very remembrance, dear Alfred, that softens my heart, and makes me weep like a child. You know I am not one given to desponding, and that, in the hour of trouble and strife, my heart is high, and my spirit not easy to be conquered; but somehow, as the wave rolls in and dashes itself on the beach, and rolls back with that angry grating sound, I think of the wide space that yet intervenes between us and those we love. ~F. C. Armstrong, The Young Middy, 1867
I have seen the sea when it is stormy and wild; when it is quiet and serene; when it is dark and moody. And in all its moods, I see myself. ~Martin D. Buxbaum (1912–1991), in Table Talk
The same old ocean with the same old waves, infinitely varied in infinite monotony. ~Rupert Hughes, The Old Nest, 1911
O Water! weaving a raindrop crown,
With you I may haply drown!—
You sing me deaf and you kiss me blind,
Your shimmering hair you wind and wind
And twist and tangle it up and down,
My hands and my feet to bind...
~Harriet L. Childe-Pemberton, Nenuphar: The Four-fold Flower of Life, 1911
Dilly, Dilly-castle, n. A name applied by boys to a small mound of sand on the sea shore, on which they stand at the influx of the tide, until they are dispossessed of it by the waves demolishing it. ~John Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, 1825
He that will learn to pray, let him go to sea. ~Jacula Prudentum, George Herbert
Last saved 2023 Jan 19 Thu 16:08 PST