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Quotations about the Soul

A struggle to do something more than exist is the sign of human life — the mission of the human soul. ~Walter Moxon, M.D., F.R.C.P. (1836–1886), "Alcohol and Individuality; or, Why Did He Become a Drunkard?"

The soul is full of wailings hot and deep,
Wailings, and wants, and woes that will not sleep...
~Lizzie Marshall Berry (1847–1919), "Struggling," Day Dreams: A Collection of Miscellaneous Poems, 1893

Neither height nor depth can measure the possibilities of the human soul. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Out of the depths of the human soul has gone a true answer to the deep call of the invisible universe, its destiny and its home. ~Rev. James H. Ecob, "The Call of the Universe," 1904

[A] great soul, with a great purpose, can make a weak body strong and keep it so... ~Mark Twain, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, 1895

When you say a man has guts, you say he has a soul. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.
~John Greenleaf Whittier, "My Psalm"

The human soul is as a seed sown in the world. It contains within, the germ of the flower and the leaf, but from without must come the means of nourishment and growth. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation V: A Journey by Night," 1850  [Edith speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

"Never tell a child," said George Macdonald, "you have a soul. Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body." [T]he body is but the temporary clothing of the soul... ~W.H.F.A., "Be Not Entangled Again in a Yoke of Bondage," in The British Friend, 1892 Seventh Month 5th

[E]verything has a soul and a body, or something like them. By the body we know the soul. But we are always ready to love the body instead of the soul. Therefore, God makes the body die continually, that we may learn to love the soul indeed. ~George MacDonald, The Seaboard Parish, "Chapter XIX: Niceboots," 1872

As if my soul would burst the prisoned skin... ~H.W. Jeffree, Life: An Epic, "Book IV," written 1861, revised 1874

Yes, keep the eye of the soul open, and you have an asset greater than a great library, for this old world is yours. ~Charles F. Raymond, "The Call to the Young," Just Be Glad, 1907 is the energy of the soul that gives life to argument, to books, to canvas, and lacking that, we do nothing well. ~Frederick William Robinson, Under the Spell, 1870

Every human soul has celestial energy which can attract power. ~Psychological Year Book: Quotations for Every Day in the Year, Showing That the Power of Thought and a Right Use of the Will May Attain Good Results, Improve Conditions & Bring Success, Gathered by Janet Young, 1904

If I should die to-night what have I to show for my life in the way of soul-winning? ~Fredonia Ellsworth Holloway (1867–1920), c.1909

The soul may sleep and the body still be happy, but only in youth. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963

So in an evil world do good souls, even in the busiest turmoil, catch some light from above and make heaven visible by reflection in the dark places of earth. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation I: The Cavern," 1850  [Edith speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The soul lives unstably in the body, and is capable of mysterious transformations. ~W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, 1919

He went to the medicine closet in the bathroom, took some painkiller, and went to lie down on the bed until his head felt better. If only there were something as simple he could take for the ache in his soul. ~Abigail Reynolds, Pemberley by the Sea: A Modern Love Story, Pride and Prejudice Style, 2008

Confession is good for the conscience, but it usually bypasses the soul.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963

Good for the body is the work of the body, and good for the soul, the work of the soul, and good for either, the work of the other. ~Henry David Thoreau

Truly, life is by the sweat of the soul! ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

We must not tamper with the organic motion of the soul. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality"

Just as much deeper as the night is than the day, just so much deeper is the soul than our dusty minds. All day the night is there behind the blue veil of the sun: all time the soul is there (that night of stars!) behind the dust and chuckling of small hours. ~James Oppenheim, The Beloved, 1915

...there was fog in his soul, but joy and warmth... ~Anton Chekhov, "Ionitch," 1898, translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett, 1917

Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul. Anne was not wont to be troubled with soul fog. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915

Care I for the limb, the thews, the stature, bulk, and big assemblance of a man! Give me the spirit... ~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II, c.1597  [III, 2, Falstaff]

I believe that the soul consists of its sufferings. For the soul that cures its own sufferings dies. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019)

I began by being perplexed about my body; and I ended by being anxious about my soul. In short, I wished to know what I was. ~Adolphe Monod, "Introduction. Letter I: Lucilla to the Abbe Favien," Lucilla; or, The Reading of the Bible, translated from the French by an unnamed translator, 1842

When the soul sought refuge in the place of rest,
Overborne by strife and pain beyond control,
From some secret hollow, whisper soft-confessed,
      Came the legend of the soul.
~Æ (George William Russell), "Self-Discipline," Homeward Songs by the Way, 1894

Joseph... admitted that despite the knowledge of the Greek language he accepted the theory that the soul was created before the body and waited in a sort of dim hall, hanging like a bat, for the creation of the body which it was predestined to descend into, till the death of the body released it. ~George Moore, The Brook Kerith: A Syrian Story, 1916

Soul is a vast realm, a gigantic world, whose immensity challenges all measurement and the mighty reach of gravity. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Each man's soul is a menagerie where Conscience, the animal-tamer, lives with a collection of wild beasts. ~Austin O'Malley, Keystones of Thought, 1914

It is not my fault if, when one tears away the veils and shows them naked, people's souls give off such a pungent smell of decay. ~Octave Mirbeau, The Diary of a Chambermaid, 1900, translated by Douglas Garman, 1966

Does the soul need anything new? If it were a mushroom, it might need last night's shower on this morning's chill. But, being eternal, its one need is for its own. ~Rev. James Henry Ecob, D.D. (1844–1921), "The Gospel for the Twentieth Century," 1901

Adventure most unto itself
The Soul condemned to be;
Attended by a Single Hound –
Its own Identity.
~Emily Dickinson, 1854

...all my soul within me burning... ~Edgar A. Poe, "The Raven"

When I moan in agony of body, you may heal me, but when I moan in agony of soul, I must heal myself. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

The wounds of the soul should be cured before those of the body. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

How strange a thing this is! The Priest telleth me that the Soul is worth all the gold in the world, and the merchants say that it is not worth a clipped piece of silver. ~Oscar Wilde, "The Fisherman and His Soul," House of Pomegranates, 1891

Lying back in the hansom, with his hat pulled over his forehead, Dorian Gray watched with listless eyes the sordid shame of the great city, and now and then he repeated to himself the words that Lord Henry had said to him on the first day they had met, "To cure the soul by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul." Yes, that was the secret. There were opium-dens, where one could buy oblivion, dens of horror where the memory of old sins could be destroyed by the madness of sins that were new.... "To cure the soul by means of the senses, and the sense by means of the soul!" How the words rang in his ears! His soul, certainly, was sick to death. ~Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray  [Quoted from the Copyright Edition, Leipzig Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1908. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I do not care for the body, I love the timid soul, the blushing, shrinking soul; it hides, for it is afraid, and the bold, obtrusive body— Pray, marm, did you call me? We are very small... I think we grow still smaller — this tiny, insect life the portal to another; it seems strange — strange indeed. ~Emily Dickinson, 1851 though my soul were winged as a bird... ~Bram Stoker, The Mystery of the Sea, 1902

Our souls are round, but this world is a square hole. ~Austin O'Malley, Keystones of Thought, 1914

Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul. ~Mark Twain

You are a beautiful soul hidden by the trench coat of the ego. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet

I may be lost in the underground of life, but I will trust my soul to know the passages. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

we feel poetry and art
in the sensitive veins
that run through soul and
carry not blood but spirit
~Terri Guillemets, "Plexus," 2002

Upturned toward the sun, eyes closed. That color and warmth I see and feel is the soul on fire. If only it remained when again my eyes opened. ~Jeb Dickerson, @JebDickerson, tweet, 2009

With all your science can you tell how it is, and whence it is, that light comes into the soul? ~Henry David Thoreau, 1851

Light rain-drops fall and wrinkle the sea,
Then vanish, and die utterly.
One would not know that rain-drops fell
If the round sea-wrinkles did not tell.
So souls come down and wrinkle life
And vanish in the flesh-sea strife.
One might not know that souls had place
Were 't not for the wrinkles in life's face.
~Sidney Lanier (1842–1881), "Souls and Rain-Drops"

Imagine your soul as a sailboat in a bottle. ~Jacques Deval (1890–1972), Afin de vivre bel et bien, 1970

But his eyes speak, though his lips are silent. And they prowl around me, and they envelop me, and they descend into me, into my very depths, in order to turn my soul inside out and see what is in it. ~Octave Mirbeau, A Chambermaid's Diary, translated from the French by Benjamin R. Tucker, 1900

God of the oriole's yellow breast, of the eagle's talon and spread of wing, of the bluebird's blue and the tanager's crimson... Let me abide by my own soul as the violet does by its purple, and believe in it as the rose must believe in its fragrance and hue. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "At the Roots of Grasses: XII," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

And in the soul of man, that lived and thought
And felt, 'twas on immortal parchment wrote,
With heart-blood ink and with the Almighty's pen.
~Samuel J. Cassels, "Providence: The Church," 1838

      "Do tell me, please! — how do you know she had a soul?"
      "My dear, when you see a very poor old woman, with nothing of world's comfort or world's goods about her, bearing a humble and hard lot in peace and contentment, with a cheerful face and bright eye, a smile for every one, a heart for the children, forgiveness for the wrongdoers, and charity for all, who can look back on eighty years of life with a 'Praise God' for every breath of it, you may be sure that something better and higher than the mere poor, worn, tired body of hers, keeps her firm to her work and true to her friends... So far as her body went it was just a trouble to her — twitched with rheumatism, and difficult to manage in the matter of mere breathing, — but her soul was straight and strong enough. Lord, here we knew her soul so well that we forgot all about the poor old case it lived in, — I hardly think we saw it! Our bodies are weak, bothersome things, my dear, — and without a soul to help 'em along we should never keep 'em going." ~Marie Corelli (Mary Mills Mackay)

The one thing in the world of value, is, the active soul, — the soul, free, sovereign, active. This every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although, in almost all men, obstructed, and as yet unborn. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1837 soul, now as calloused as my hands... ~Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved, 1980

I experienced that wild trouble of the soul which one feels after a nightmare from which one has just awakened. ~Guy de Maupassant (1850–1893), "A Ghost," translated by Jonathan Sturges

The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth."
Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path."
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.
~Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Each individual life is a world by itself, suspending within the realm of possibilities; while the soul is ever its center of gravitation. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

...the storm-winds of the soul... ~Ebenezer Elliott, "Elegy on William Cobbett," 1835

I tell you what I see — the landscape of the spirit requires a lung, but no tongue. ~Emily Dickinson

When the soul rules over itself its empire is lasting. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

We are not our bodies, we are souls with bodies. ~Wayne W. Dyer (1940–2015)

To and fro her soul beat its wings... ~Elizabeth Godfrey (Jessie Bedford), The Winding Road, 1902

Voice of the wind,
Of the rollicking wind in the trees;
Voice of the leaves,
Of the sweet-singing boughs in the breeze;
Voice of the streams,
Of the silver tongued waves on the shore;
Voice of the shower,
Of the mirthful, May-visioned downpour;
Voice of the stars,
Of the lyre-tuned lights of the sky;
Voice of the flowers,
Of the blithe buds that know not a sigh;
Voice of the birds,
Of the nest-seeking spirits of light;
Voice of the dark,
Of the golden imperious night;
Voice of my soul,
      Thou art wind, wave and shower,
      Leaf, dark, and bower,
      Bird, star and flower
One and inseparable whole!
~Blanche Shoemaker Wagstaff, "Voices," Narcissus and Other Poems, 1918

A pretty judge of soul, he, to be sure! a man that never laughed! How can people who go through the world, cold and still, like the clods they tread upon pretend to know anything about soul? ~Fanny Forester (Emily Chubbuck Judson)

Dreams grow like wildflowers in her soul. ~Terri Guillemets

Some mystic philosophers believe that the soul radiates out from a man in concentric spheres or atmospheres, felt by those that approach him. ~Ethlyn M. Davis, "Making a Happier World," 1915

The object of all methods of exercise, spiritual, mental or physical, is to free the spirit to higher expression through the physical. The spirit itself is perfect... it is Love, it is God; it is the real you. But it might as well be some other body for all the good your spirit does you except as you admit it to expression through your brain and body. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

...the soul and body are the same shape,—that the soul is not a speck or spot in the heart, or brain,—a something and nothing, but that it inhabits every part of the body, and thus its seat is all over the body. ~James Gillingham (1838–1924), The Seat of the Soul Discovered or the World's Great Problem Solved, with Objections to the Same Answered, second edition, 1870

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, 1855

Sleep doesn't help if it's your soul that's tired. ~Author unknown

Anybody is liable to rheumatism in her legs, Anne. It's only old people who should have rheumatism in their souls, though... When you get rheumatism in your soul you might as well go and pick out your coffin. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915

There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand. ~Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley (1797–1851), Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, 1831 edition

You must not mind, dear fellow... that is only Emanuel Swedenborg's way... His feet are on the earth; but for the moment his mind is in the clouds, pondering some solution to the wonderful problems he has set himself... He is above everything else, a dreamer... He will not rest content until he has found the seat of the soul in man. Up through mathematics, mechanics, mineralogy, astronomy, chemistry, even physiology, has he gone, mastering every science in turn... But his learning satisfies him not a whit, since the soul still eludes him... If the study of anatomy fail him, I know not where he will next turn. For my part, I fancy he need not look beyond the stomach. ~H. Addington Bruce, Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters, 1908  [a little altered —tg]

"Great thoughts come from the heart," not the mind. To the soul alone, therefore, belong the thoughts that reunite, to the mind those that divide. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847), Philosophy. First Section: Pure Philosophy. Chapter II.—Metaphysics. II. Logic— 3. Problem of Cognition, Outlines of Philosophy and Literature, edited by ‎Jean Frédéric Astié, 1865

A beating heart needs a soul to go with it, or it's nothing but a machine. ~Terri Guillemets

The soul breathes.—Why not speak in metaphors? ~Miguel de Unamuno, "Intellectuality and Spirituality," translated from the Spanish by J. E. Crawford Flitch, 1924

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "A Few Words on the Soul," Moment, 2002, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

      Your body, as you are well aware, needs nourishing food. You have a pretty clear appreciation that your mind needs nutriment also. What about your soul? Your soul is you far more than your body is, far more than even your mind is. If you fail to nourish it you are certain to suffer more acutely than you would through failure to nourish your body or your mind.
      I sincerely trust you have not forgotten this.
      Thousands of your fellow beings certainly have. You find them on all sides, going up and down the streets intent only on their "business affairs," hale and prosperous-appearing perhaps, but with a terrible look in their eyes — the look of the starving soul.
      Yet all about them is food for their souls if they would only take it.
      It is to be found in the blue of the sky, the fleece of the clouds, the fragrance of the flowers, the singing of the birds — God's messengers to men. They can gain it from the rhythm of the surf as it breaks on the seashore, the majesty of the river slowly coursing to the sea, the murmuring of the brook as it happily hurries to the river. In the crooning of the wind through the pines there is food for the soul. And even the wind's sighing about the walls of the tenements is food for the soul.
      To the west, as the sun goes down, food for the soul can be gleaned from every sunset. In the east, with the rosy shafts of dawn, food is offered to the souls of men. And the offering is renewed as God hangs out His lights in the purple canopy of night time.
      These hurrying ones, these starving ones, if they but knew it, could find food for their souls in every great architectural creation that adorns their streets. From the masterpieces on the walls of their art museums, from the strains of classic music in their concert halls, food is perpetually offered them. Ignorantly they pass by. ~H. Addington Bruce, "Nourish Your Soul," Self-Development: A Handbook for the Ambitious, 1921

In my soul, the music of the universe can be heard. ~Eric Honeycutt, @erichoney07, August 2011 entry to The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

...his soul raw with unhealed wounds, weak with helplessness. ~Naomi Ragen, The Tenth Song, 2010

...that soul-wail... ~Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897

The incoming may still my heart's weeping, but only that which I send forth will still the deeper cry of my soul. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

That meteor-soul divine... ~Arthur Davison Ficke

There are little bits of my soul, little dark corners that you know nothing of. It's not good, it's not right that I should go about with them shut up in me. ~Anita Vivanti Chartres (1866–1942), The Hunt for Happiness, 1896 soul was green and sick with noisome mildew. ~Frank Belknap Long, Jr., "The Desert Lich," in Weird Tales: The Unique Magazine, 1924

That I may have an immortal soul, is irrelevant. That I have a mortal one, is vital. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

Webs of strange patterns we weave (each owns)
From colour and soul; and like unto these,
Soul has its tones and semitones,
Mind has its major and minor keys.
~Amy Levy, "In a Minor Key (An Echo from a Larger Lyre)," c.1884

Startled nerves often affright the soul into serious reflections. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

...the greatest battle of life is fought out within the silent chambers of your own soul. ~President Richards (LDS), quoted by David O. McKay, 1954

There are relapses in the disorders of the soul as well as in those of the body. What we take to be our cure is most often nothing but an intermission or a change of the disorder. ~François VI de la Rochefoucault (1613–1680)

My soul lives somewhere between silence and the moon. ~Terri Guillemets

Learning how to operate a soul takes time. ~Timothy Leary

It would be idle to say that life is a steady progression in happiness. But it is most certain that in the natural course of things a healthy soul grows continually richer until its latest day on earth. ~George S. Merriam

...every spiritual activity leaves traces, not only in the soul but also in the body; must then, if apoplexy or age destroy corporeal activity, must the soul's fire be therefore quenched? ~Jean Paul Fr. Richter, "506th Station," The Campaner Thal: or, Discourses on the Immortality of the Soul, translated from German by Juliette Bauer

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire. ~Ferdinand Foch

[D]ivine Providence... keeps the universe open in every direction to the soul... ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nominalist and Realist"

Anticipation Awakes the Passion, Vision Ignites the Heart, Touch Erupts the Soul. ~Craig D. Slovak

Shhh. Your soul is humming its tune. Listen well. ~Terri Guillemets

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