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 Est. 1998




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Quotations about Water:
Ocean, Beach, Sea, Lake, River, &c.


Related Quotes      Swimming      Weather      Environment      Drinking Water


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. ~T.C. 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


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  #clouds


Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither...
~William Wordsworth


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 poetry of brooks
Is deeper than their prose...
~G. A. Studdert Kennedy, "The Truth of May," The Sorrows of God and Other Poems, 1924


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


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


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]


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]


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


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


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"


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


Can the sea be empty of salt,
Or love of sorrow?
~John Robinson Jeffers, "Salt Sand"


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]


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


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


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


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


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



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