Rediscovered wisdom

July 18, 2007

So last night I managed to revive my 19-month-old Palm Tungsten E2, which I haven’t used for several months. I found quite a lot of good quotes and poems on it and thought I would post them here.

General quotes

Far and away the best prize life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. —Theodore Roosevelt

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. —Henry Brooks Adams

When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the lift of another. —Hellen Keller

When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past. —Thomas S. Monson

Wise time management is really the wise management of ourselves. —Spencer W. Kimball

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. —Aesop

UPDATE: Here’s another one:
Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value. —Albert Einstein


My AP English teacher liked this poem and quoted it to us a lot:

Lad of Athens,
Faithful be
To thyself,
And Mystery–
All the rest
Is Perjury

Emily Dickinson

He also like this one. It is a sad but true tale of life:

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a lightfood lad.

By brooks to broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.

A. E. Housman

This sonnet is very well-written. I memorized it for AP English once, and I really enjoy it. The final couplet is my favorite part, as it is applicable to so many relationships we have:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon these boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare, ruined choirs where late the sweet bird sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare (Sonnet 73)

This one is a provocative exposition on the constancy of change:

Mark! how all things swerve
From their known course, or vanish like a dream;
Another language spreads from coast to coast;
Only perchance some melancholy Stream
And some indignant Hills old names preserve,
When laws, and creeds, and people all are lost!

William Wordsworth

Well, those are a few quotes and poems I like that I recently rediscovered. What do you think of them? Have you heard any of them before?



June 4, 2007

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
Henry David Thoreau

Although I don’t agree with many of Thoreau’s ideas, I think he has this one right.

You walk down the street and pass someone you know. “How are you?” he says. “Fine” is your standard reply, no matter how tormented or depressed you may feel in your heart. I am reminded of Dunbar’s poem:

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties.Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
Paul Laurence Dunbar

In such dark surroundings, do we allow ourselves to become what the world wants us to become, to only see us wearing a mask that fits their expectations? Why are we so silent and resigned about our difficulties and trials? What does it mean to have a friend? When we find such a friend, do we appreciate him for what he means to us?

I found several scriptures in the Bible today that really spoke to me:

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
–Proverbs 17:17 (KJV)
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
–Proverbs 27:17 (KJV)

To all my friends, I want you to know how much I have appreciated your kind words and listening ears; for being there when I was going through hard times; for putting up with my faults and helping me become a better person. You guys are awesome. I hope I have been able to return something of that to you. Thank you for being my friend–you have meant the world to me.

The Road Not Taken

May 9, 2007

I first heard Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” many years ago and have drawn inspiration from it ever since.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
–Robert Frost

Another poem I like teaches about perseverance. It was quoted by both Russell M. Nelson and Thomas S. Monson in general conference addresses:

Stick to Your Task

Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Beginners are many, but enders are few.
Honor, power, place, and praise
Will always come to the one who stays.
Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it too;
For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
Will come life’s victories, after awhile.

Thoughts from Dostoevsky

May 9, 2007

Fyodor Dostoevsky is a famous Russian writer often called the founder of existentialism. He was Christian and let some of his beliefs shine through in his works. I came across a few quotes from his writings today that I found interesting (these can all be found on Wikiquote):

From The Brothers Karamazov:

  • If you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up.
  • The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.
  • A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying-to others and to yourself.

The first of his quotes that I found today seemed particularly powerful:

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.

We become in life and in eternity what we make of ourselves. Our thoughts become desires, which lead to actions. Actions lead to habits, which in turn determine our character.