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Quotations about Ideals

The shortest way to realize the ideal
Is to idealize the real.
~Simeon Carter (1824–1911), Poems and Aphorisms: A Woodman's Musings, 1893

Our ideals mould our convictions. Our convictions determine our decisions. Our decisions shape our habits. Our habits fashion our future. ~William Arthur Ward, Thoughts of a Christian Optimist, 1968

Let nobody sneer at the ideal. Our dearest delights belong to the imagination... ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861

More of us might live up to our ideals if we knew what they were. ~Arnold H. Glasow (1905–1999)

When they come downstairs from their Ivory Towers, Idealists are very apt to walk straight into the gutter. ~Logan Pearsall Smith

I will speak of the ideal mission of this country and of this people. You may tell me that these views are visionary, that the destiny of this country is less exalted, that the American people are less great than I think they are or ought to be. I answer, ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny. I invite you to ascend with me the watchtower of history, overlooking the grand panorama of the development of human affairs, in which the American Republic stands in so bold and prominent relief. ~Carl Schurz, 1859

We are accused, furthermore, of having ideals. Well, every dogma has its day, but ideals are eternal. ~Israel Zangwill, 1892

Ideals are absolutes — they are like round holes of perfection into which the square, rough-hewn pegs of reality can never be successfully fitted. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

The soul mounts ever toward nobler things, but seldom is it strong enough to carry along with it the human clay. ~Bernard G. Richard, "Life and the Theories of Life," To‑Morrow, June 1905

How I have thought of her,
Her I have never seen!...
Love is all vain to me
So: and as dust severe,
Faith: and a barren tree,
Truth: and a bitter tear,
Joy: for I wait and hear
Her who can never be...
~Madison Julius Cawein (1865–1914), "Ideal Divination"

Ideals are for inspiration, not implementation. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Away then, with soft ideals:
Brace yourself with bitterness:
A drink of that biting liquor, the Truth...
~James Oppenheim, "Civilization," Songs for the New Age, 1914

It's a cruel world: idealistic dreams usually end up costing as much as regular stupidity. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

      "Ideals, my dear Golightly, are the root of every evil. When a man forgets his ideals he may hope for happiness, but not till then."
      "And if he has none to forget?"
      "That he has none to forget," said the first speaker slowly, "simply means that he has not yet been disappointed."
      "You think he cannot escape them?"
      "I know he cannot. Of course I am speaking of the Thinking Man — not a human machine."
      The man who had been addressed as Golightly bent back in his chair, and did not reply immediately. He had a pleasant, rest-giving face — rest-giving in its strong suggestion that he was not the man to underestimate his fellow-creatures, or himself.
      "You say that a Thinking Man cannot escape ideals," he said at last, "and yet you add he cannot be happy till he forgets them. Is not that a little hard on the Thinking Man?"
      "Is not everything hard on him?" said the other. ~John Oliver Hobbes, Some Emotions and a Moral, 1891

Living up to ideals is like doing everyday work with your Sunday clothes on. ~Ed Howe, as quoted in Laurence J. Peter, Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, 1977

We have our ideals now, but when they are mentioned we feel self-conscious and uncomfortable, like a school-boy caught praying. ~Arnold Bennett (1867–1931)

Ideals are often like the sirens of mythology — a seductively attractive lure to shipwreck. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

I think that the song that is sweetest
      Is one that is never sung,—
      It lies at the heart of the singer
      Too grand for mortal tongue.
      And sometimes in the silence
      Between the day and the night,
      He fancies that it measures
      Bid farewell to the light
A picture that is fairer
      Than all that have a part
      Among the masterpieces
      In marble halls of art,
      Is one that haunts the painter
      In all his golden dreams,
      And to the painter only,
      A real picture seems.
The noblest, grandest poem
      Lies not in blue and gold,
      Among the treasured volumes
      That rosewood bookshelves hold;
      But in bright and glowing visions
      It comes into the poet's brain,
      And when he tries to grasp it
      He finds his efforts vain.
A fairy hand from dreamland
      Beckons us here and there,
      And when we strive to clasp it
      It vanishes into air.
      And thus our fair Ideal
      Floats away just before,
      And we, with longing spirits,
      Reach for it evermore.
~Anonymous, "The Ideal," c.1904

Some people never have anything except ideals. ~E. W. Howe

Mankind aspires to a perfection not permitted by his genetic legacy — nor by the competitive necessities of his circumstance. He is condemned to endless aspiration — a persistent purgatory of failed ideals. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

There is nothing the matter with Americans except their ideals. The real American is all right; it is the ideal American who is all wrong. ~G. K. Chesterton, "The American Ideal," 1932

Idealism — so often the blind nursemaid to folly. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. ~Norman Douglas, South Wind, 1921

Idealism is absolutism. The pristine version is toxic, and often fatal; to be beneficial, it requires the dilution of balance, and the filter of common sense. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Our ideals, like the gods of old, are constantly demanding human sacrifices. ~Bernard Shaw

Materialism is a circumference without a centre. Idealism is a centre without a circumference. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

The ideal is the enemy of the possible. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows. ~David T. Wolf, as quoted by Robert Byrne, in The Third — and Possibly the Best — 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1986

Man's idealistic reach often exceeds the reasonable capabilities of his grasp; in this disparity lie the seeds of misery. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

In the absence of ideal men the market for real men continues active. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

The steed of idealism should never be given free rein — it invariably heads directly towards the abyss. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

don't disdain the youth their ideals
or their puppy love head-over-heels
eventually they will learn and settle
inevitable retrogress—lover & rebel
~Terri Guillemets

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it is also more nourishing. ~H. L. Mencken

IDEALIST.  One who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. ~H. L. Mencken

When the wings of idealism break, may you land safely on your feet. ~Terri Guillemets, "Age fall," 2009

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