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Quotations about Solitude

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.   —ღ Terri, March 2021

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 January 8th [Exactly. Never a moment to ourselves! –tg]

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

Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone. ~Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now

There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall. ~Colette

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

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~Henry David Thoreau, 1854

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

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

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. ~Henry David Thoreau

We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart... and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together.... I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude. ~Helen Hayes

It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. ~K.T. Jong

      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

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. ~Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun

By all means use sometimes to be alone. Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear. ~George Herbert

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

Solitude shows us what should be; society shows us what we are. ~Robert Cecil

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"

The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incubator of the spirit. ~Marya Mannes

In solitude, where we are least alone. ~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up. ~Pearl Buck

What a commentary on civilization, when being alone is being suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it — like a secret vice. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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

A large, still book is a piece of quietness, succulent and nourishing in a noisy world, which I approach and imbibe with "a sort of greedy enjoyment," as Marcel Proust said of those rooms of his old home whose air was "saturated with the bouquet of silence." ~Holbrook Jackson

The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude. ~Voltaire

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"

With some people solitariness is an escape not from others but from themselves. For they see in the eyes of others only a reflection of themselves. ~Eric Hoffer

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

Solitude appeared to me as the only fit state of man. ~Walter Benjamin

When we cannot bear to be alone, it means we do not properly value the only companion we will have from birth to death — ourselves. ~Eda LeShan

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,

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, c.1822

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

I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls. ~Henry David Thoreau

I am alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every hour holy...
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours (Das Stunden-Buch), translated from German

Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you. ~Harold Bloom

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

True solitude is a din of birdsong, seething leaves, whirling colors, or a clamor of tracks in the snow. ~Edward Hoagland

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength. ~Jack Kerouac

We visit others as a matter of social obligation. How long has it been since we have visited with ourselves? ~Morris Adler

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,

Loneliness can be conquered only by those who can bear solitude. ~Paul Tillich

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

Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul. ~Marcus Aurelius

...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]

It seemed to be a necessary ritual that he should prepare himself for sleep by meditating under the solemnity of the night sky... a mysterious transaction between the infinity of the soul and the infinity of the universe. ~Victor Hugo

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,

I owe my solitude to other people. ~Alan Watts

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, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods, "Economy"

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

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