Poems and Quotes
Poems / Quotes


What we have learned
Is like a handful of earth
What we have yet to learn
Is like the whole world.


The stars are suspended on strings that
are pulled up in the daytime and let down
at night.

-Babylonian Mythology, 3000 B.C.

Auguries of Innocence

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

-William Blake (1709-1784)

The sad and solemn night hath yet her multitude of cheerful fires;
The glorious host of light walk the dark hemisphere till she retires;
All through her silent watches, gliding slow,
Her constellations come, and climb the heavens, and go.

-- William Cullen Bryant, Hymn to the North Star

There is no sound in the forest -
only the phantom murmur
of the far wind
and the wind's shadow drifting
as smoke
through ebon branches; there a single star
glistens in the heart of night....
A star!
Look skyward now...
and see above...INFINITY
Vast and dark and deep
and endless....your heritage:
Silent clouds of stars,
Other worlds uncountable and other suns
beyond numbering
and realms of fire-mist and star-cities
as grains of sand....
Across the void....
Across the gulf of night....
Across the endless rain of years....
Across the ages.
Were you the star-born you should hear
That silent music of which the ancient sages spoke
Though in silent words...
Here then is our quest
and our world
and our Home.
Come with me now, Pilgrim of the stars,
For our time is upon us and our eyes
shall see the far country
and the shining cities of Infinity
which the wise men knew
in ages past, and shall know again
in the ages yet to be.
Look to the east....there shines
the Morning Star...soon shall the sunrise come...
We await the Dawn,
Rise, oh eternal light;
Awaken the World!
With trumpets and cymbals and harp and the sound
of glad song!
And now...
The clouds of night are rolled away;
Sing welcome to the Dawn
Of the bright new day!

From Burnham's Celestial Handbook, by Robert Burnham Jr., 1978.

The moving moon went up to the sky, And nowhere did abide;
Softly she was going up, And a star or two beside.

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner (pt. IV)

With vast convolutions Draco holds
Th' ecliptic axis in his scaly folds.
O'er half the skies his neck enormous rears,
And with immense meanders parts the Bears.

-Erasmus Darwin's Economy of Vegetation

Wide are the meadows of night
And daisies are shining there,
Tossing their lovely dews,
Lustrous and fair,
And through these sweet fields go,
Wanderers amid the stars--
Venus, Mercury, Uranus, Neptune,
Saturn, Jupiter, Mars.

-Walter de la Mare, The Wanderers

Whiter than the snow and salt crystals
The flora of the night opens its petals
And grows, filling the spaces of the sky
Where the azure horse neighs, kicks out, and bolts
Toward fields covered with recent stars
Across harvests of stars and reflections
Of the fire of four horseshoes splashing the veils
He dives to the very depths of the milky darkness
Unfurling the ribbon of the abolished cycles,
The shortest ones bending under the weight of the sunsets
Since, as suns whose light had grown pale, they had
Come too close to the redness of the Lyre and of Hercules
But, at this hour, the moon in her bridal dress
Drags at her white heels the nebula and white
White as the morning upon the petrified sea
The ram of dawn prepares to set out
The comet has placed its sparks on his forehead
Beautiful black woman, oh moon, where are you going so slowly
To find your spouse with his plum-colored eyes
Whoes bed Venus warmed with a gallant body?
Champagne, flow through the constellations
If wines are like liquid stars
Let us find, in you, Burgundy, the creation
Of the fabulous monsters of the ether and of the void
Pressing the grapes we shall conjure up
Mercury and Jupiter and Cancer and Ursa Minor
Despite the torches reflected in the wine
And the sun bathed in the coolness of its springs
You, fine after-midnight, escorted by legends
Drag one more couple into the waltzes of desire
So that the weried drinker may again ask you
To fill his glass with the blood of memories.

-Robert Desnos (The Fine After-Midnight)

Lightly stepped a yellow star
To its lofty place,
Loosed the Moon her silver hat
From her lustral face.
All of evening softly lit
As an astral hall-
"Father," I observed to Heaven,
"You are punctual."

-Emily Dickinson

The Moon upon her fluent route
Defiant of a road,
The stars Etruscan argument,
Substantiate a God.
If Aims impel these Astral Ones,
The Ones allowed to know,
Know that which makes them as forgot
As Dawn forgets them now.

-Emily Dickinson

Follow wise Orion
Till you lose your eye,
Dazzlingly decamping
He is just as high.

-Emily Dickinson

Choose Something Like a Star

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud-
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to the wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, 'I burn.'
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use Language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

-Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Canis Major

The great Overdog,
That heavenly beast
With a star in one eye,
Gives a leap in the east.

He dances upright
All the way to the west
And never once drops
On his forefeet to rest.

I'm a poor underdog,
But tonight I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.

-Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Fireflies in the Garden

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.

-Robert Frost (1874-1963)


How countlessly they congregate
O'er our tumultuous snow,
Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
When wintry winds do blow!--

As if with keenness for our fate,
Our faltering few steps on
To white rest, and a place of rest
Invisible at dawn,--

And yet with neither love nor hate,
Those starts like some snow-white
Minerva's snow-white marble eyes
Without the gift of sight.

-Robert Frost (1874-1963)

The Star-Splitter

`You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight, and indeed,
After the ground is frozen, I should have done
Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful
Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney
To make fun of my way of doing things,
Or else fun of Orion's having caught me.
Has a man, I should like to ask, no rights
These forces are obliged to pay respect to?'
So Brad McLaughlin mingled reckless talk
Of heavenly stars with hugger-mugger farming,
Till having failed at hugger-mugger farming
He burned his house down for the fire insurance
And spent the proceeds on a telescope
To satisfy a lifelong curiosity
About our place among the infinities.

`What do you want with one of those blame things?'
I asked him well beforehand. `Don't you get one!'

`Don't call it blamed; there isn't anything
More blameless in the sense of being less
A weapon in our human fight,' he said.
`I'll have one if I sell my farm to buy it.'
There where he moved the rocks to plow the ground
And plowed between the rocks he couldn't move,
Few farms changed hands; so rather than spend years
Trying to sell his farm and then not selling,
He burned his house down for the fire insurance
And bought the telescope with what it came to.
He had been heard to say by several:
`The best thing that we're put here for's to see;
The strongest thing that's given us to see with's
A telescope. Someone in every town
Seems to me owes it to the town to keep one.
In Littleton it might as well be me.'
After such loose talk it was no surprise
When he did what he did and burned his house down.

Mean laughter went about the town that day
To let him know we weren't the least imposed on,
And he could wait---we'd see to him tomorrow.
But the first thing next morning we reflected
If one by one we counted people out
For the least sin, it wouldn't take us long
To get so we had no one left to live with.
For to be social is to be forgiving.
Our thief, the one who does our stealing from us,
We don't cut off from coming to church suppers,
But what we miss we go to him and ask for.
He promptly gives it back, that is if still
Uneaten, unworn out, or undisposed of.
It wouldn't do to be too hard on Brad
About his telescope. Beyond the age
Of being given one for Christmas gift,
He had to take the best way he knew how
To find himself in one. Well, all we said was
He took a strange thing to be roguish over.
Some sympathy was wasted on the house,
A good old-timer dating back along;
But a house isn't sentient; the house
Didn't feel anything. And if it did,
Why not regard it as a sacrifice,
And an old-fashioned sacrifice by fire,
Instead of a new-fashioned one at auction?

Out of a house and so out of a farm
At one stroke (of a match), Brad had to turn
To earn a living on the Concord railroad,
As under-ticket-agent at a station
Where his job, when he wasn't selling tickets,
Was setting out, up track and down, not plants
As on a farm, but planets, evening stars
That varied in their hue from red to green.

He got a good glass for six hundred dollars.
His new job gave him leisure for stargazing.
Often he bid me come and have a look
Up the brass barrel, velvet black inside,
At a star quaking in the other end.
I recollect a night of broken clouds
And underfoot snow melted down to ice,
And melting further in the wind to mud.
Bradford and I had out the telescope.
We spread our two legs as we spread its three,
Pointed our thoughts the way we pointed it,
And standing at our leisure till the day broke,
Said some of the best things we ever said.
That telescope was christened the Star-Splitter,
Because it didn't do a thing but split
A star in two or three, the way you split
A globule of quicksilver in your hand
With one stroke of your finger in the middle.
It's a star-splitter if there ever was one,
And ought to do some good if splitting stars
'Sa thing to be compared with splitting wood.

We've looked and looked, but after all where are we?
Do we know any better where we are,
And how it stands between the night tonight
And a man with a smoky lantern chimney?
How different from the way it ever stood?

-Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Space is big
Space is Dark
It's hard to find
A place to park.

-Sidney Harris (American Scientist magazine, 1975)

I am like a slip of comet

I am like a slip of comet,
Scarce worth discovery, in some corner seen
Bridging the slender difference of two stars,
Come out of space, or suddenly engender'd
By heady elements, for no man knows;
But when she sights the sun she grows and sizes
And spins her skirts out, while her central star
Shakes its cocooning mists; and so she comes
To fields of light; millions of travelling rays
Pierce her; she hangs upon the flame-cased sun,
And sucks the light as full as Gideons's fleece:
But then her tether calls her; she falls off,
And as she dwindles shreds her smock of gold
Between the sistering planets, till she comes
To single Saturn, last and solitary;
And then she goes out into the cavernous dark.
So I go out: my little sweet is done:
I have drawn heat from this contagious sun:
To not ungentle death now forth I run.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), I Am Like a Slip of Comet, 1864

The Starlight Night

Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! the elves'-eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold lies!
Wind-beat whitebeam! airy abeles set on a flare!
Flake-doves sent floating forth at a farmyard scare! --
Ah well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize.

Buy then! bid then! What? Prayer, patience, aims, vows.
Look, look: a May-mess, like on orchard boughs!
Look! March-bloom, like on mealed-with-yellow sallows!
These are indeed the barn; withindoors house
The shocks. This piece-bright paling shuts the spouse
Christ home, Christ and his mother and all his hallows.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Yon rising Moon that looks for us again -
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane;
How oft hereafter rising look for us
Through this same Garden - and for one in vain!

-Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat #100

Sky Tapestry

A tapestry jewelled hangs over the night;
Have you looked up to see where it gleams?
There are rubies and sapphires and diamonds white
Interwoven with mists of lost dreams.

This tapestry ancient was hung up for you
Before Time tried to reckon with Space;
And for ages to come it will hang in the blue,
Starry jewels each one in its place.

Each star has a story, each mist is alight;
If you seek to know each priceless fold
You will treasure this tapestry hung up at night
By the Weaver of tapestries old.

-Cordella Lackey

I would rather be a meteor
every atom of me in magnificent glow
Then a sleepy and permanent planet.

-Jack London (1876-1916)

Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

I heard the trailing garments of the Night
Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
From the celestial walls!

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
"Hymn to the Night" from Voices of the Night (1839)

a shooting star
streaks the sky
making it real

clear night -
in the space of a smile
the meteor is gone

-Giovanni Malito (1957-2003)

To behold the wandering Moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that has been led astray
Through the heav'n's wide pathless way.

-John Milton (1608-1674)

O Night, sweet though sombre space of time ...
All things find rest upon their Journey's end --
Our cares thou canst to quietude sublime;
For dews and darkness are of peace the friend.


I had watched a dozen comets,
hitherto unknown,
slowly creep across the sky
as each one signed its sweeping flourish
in the guest book of the Sun.

-Leslie C. Peltier

Split the atom's heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun.

-Persian Mystic Poem

Autumn Sky

Downward waft the autumn leaves;
The hunters' moon's on high
Cetus Swims the starry deep
Cepheus rules the sky.
Rulest I said, well maybe so,
But what of Aries, Perseus, Fomalhaut?
Andromeda and others too,
Lend their light to grace the blue.
I love them all, I wish they'd stay
But like the leaves they'll drift away.

-G. O. Pitcovich

If the Night Were Void of Stars

'Twould be lonely, 'twould indeed,
It the night were void of stars

How we'd miss the friendly warmth
This heavenly host of ours.

No Swan to wing the northern sky,
Nor mighty Hercules.

No Bear to roam the starry wood,
Nor Charming Pleiades.

No Crown to place on kingly heads,
Nor Dragon there to prey

Upon unwary souls that stroll,
Along the Milky Way.

The planets also we would miss,
Venus, Saturn, Mars

'Twould be lonely, 'twould indeed,
If the night were void of stars.

-G. O. Pitcovich

The Sky

The Sky's my treasure chest,
It's there that I store
Diamonds and sapphires,
Emeralds galore
Rubies of red, jades of green
Topaz and opal, iridescent sheen
Gems of all color,
Jewels of all hue,
This treasure's all mine,
But I'll share it with you.

-G. O. Pitcovich

And the skies of night were alive with light, with a throbbing, thrilling flame;
Amber and rose and violet, opal and gold it came.
It swept the sky like a giant scythe, it quivered back to a wedge;
Argently bright, it cleft the night with a wavy golden edge.

-Robert W. Service, "The Ballad of the Northern Lights" From Ballads of a Cheechako (1909)

The Moon

That orbed' maiden
With white fire laden
Whom mortals call the Moon.


Star Guides

Any star is enough
if you know what star it is.

-William Stafford

The Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When she nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the trav'ller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often thro' my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

'Tis your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the trav'ller in the dark:
Tho' I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

-Ann Taylor (1782-1866) and Jane Taylor (1783-1824), 1806

What is it all but a trouble of ants
In the gleam of a million
million of suns?

-Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

The stars are far brighter
Than gems without measure,
The moon is far whiter
Than silver in treasure.

-J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit)

White Dwarf

Welcome, welcome little star!
I'm delighted that you are
Up in heaven's vast extent
No bigger than a continent.

Relatively minuscule
Spinning like a penny spoon
Glinting like a polished spoon
A kind of kindled demi-moon,

You offer cheer to tiny Man
'Mid galaxies Gargantuan --
A little pill in endless night
An antidote to cosmic fright.

-John Updike


And now, oh, does the weather jest?
the wind has shifted to the west.
The furious storm has finally passed,
unburdened clouds are clearing fast.
The stars - oh yes! - the stars appear,
the wind-washed sky is crystal clear!

-Doug Zubenel

Why are there so many songs about rainbows,
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it,
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered,
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it,
And look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

All of us under its spell,
We know that it's probably magic ............

Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it,
It's something that I'm s'posed to be
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me

-Kermit the Frog


"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."
-Douglas Adams

"If thou follow thy star, thou canst not fail of a glorious heaven."
-Dante Aligheri (1265-1321)

"There are many things that are known and things that are unknown; in between is exploration."

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny...'"
-Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

"We are just strings of quarks living in a suburb of the local density maximum of the universe."
-John D. Barrow

"The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper."
-John D. Barrow, The World Within the World

"When it is dark enough you can see the stars."
-Charles A. Beard

"The adventure of the sun is the greatest natural drama by which we live..."
-Henry Beston

"If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite."
-William Blake (1757-1827)

"We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship."
-Omar Bradley

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
-Robert Browning (1812-1889)

"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead."
-Charles Bukowski

"Ye stars! Which are the poetry of heaven!"
-Lord Byron (1788-1824)

"The universe is moved by a power which cycles endlessly from day to day. Such greatness endures for all time. As in heaven, so on earth."
-I Ching (B.C. 1150?)

"You and I a flesh and blood, but we are also stardust."
-Helena Curtis, on the formation of the earth, Biology, 1968

"Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality."
-Jules de Gaultier

"When I look around I think this, this is good enough. And I try to laugh at whatever life brings. Cuz when I look down I just miss all the good stuff and when I look up I just trip over things."
-Ani Difranco

"Man hath weaved out a net, and this net throwne upon the Heavens, and now they are his own."
-John Donne (1572-1631)

"Today gives us a chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars."
-Henry Van Dyke

"Something unknown is doing we don't know what."
-Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944), comment on the Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics, 1927

"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"The important thing is not to stop questioning."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"The ideals that have lighted my way and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty and Truth."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited,
Imagination encircles the world."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
-T. S. Eliot

"The two most abundant things in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity."
-Harlan Ellison

"Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven... Build, therefore, your own world."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, 1836

"No one reguards what is before his feet; we all gaze at the stars."
-Quintus Ennius (239-169 B.C.)

"Nothing is too wonderful to be true."
-Michael Farady (1791-1867)

"I wonder what is out there in the quiet of the sky..."
-Ellis Felker

"I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."
-Richard Feynman

"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."
-Richard Feynman

"Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars - mere globs of gas atoms. I, too, can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more?"
-Richard Feynman

"There is a computer disease that anybody who works with computers knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is that you 'play' with them!"
-Richard Feynman

"None of our men are `experts.' We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself and expert -- because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the `expert' state of mind a great number of things become impossible."
-From Henry Ford Sr., "My Life and Work"

"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't."
-Anatole France (1844-1924)

"Dreams - A microscope through which we look at the hidden occurrences in our soul. "
-Erich Fromm (1900-1980)

"Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens.... My grandfather would say we're part of something incredibly wonderful - more marvelous than we imagine. My grandfather would say we ought to go out and look at it once in a while so we don't lose our place in it."
-Robert Fulghum

"Man and science are two concave mirrors continually reflecting each other..."
-Aleksandr Ivanovich Herzen, Science and Humanity, 1968

"Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards."
-Sir Fred Hoyle

"The explorations of space end on a note of uncertainty... we measure shadows... we search among ghostly errors of measurement."
-Edwin Hubble (1889-1953)

"Stars, in your multitude, scarce to be counted, filling the darkness with order and light."
-Javert, Les Miserables

"The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a machine."
-Sir James Jeans (1877-1946)

"Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind."
-Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

"The treasures hidden in the heavens are so rich that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment."
-Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

"Despite a programme of careful observation, serendipity appears to have a major role to play in research and we are forcibly reminded that if we only look for what we expect to find, we might well miss exciting new discoveries."
-D. Kilkenny, C. Koen, D. O'Donoghue, R. S. Stobie (1997, MNRAS, v 285, p 640 A new class of rapidly pulsating star -- I. EC 14026-2647, the class prototype)

"As marvelous as the stars is the mind of the person who studies them."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play."
-Kirk, "Shore Leave", stardate 3025.8

"The flower that follows the sun does so even on cloudy days."
-Robert Leighton (1611-1684)

"We walk up the beach under the stars. And when we are tired of walking, we lie flat on the sand under a bowl of stars."
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh (b. 1901)

"Do there exist many worlds, or is there but a single world? This is one of the most noble and exalted questions in the study of Nature."
-Albertus Magnus (1193-1280)

"The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom."
-Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats!"
-Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

"To consider the Earth as the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field of millet, only one grain will grow."
-Metrodorus of Chios (4th century B.C.)

"I don't know what I may seem to the world, but, as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
-Sir Isaac Newton

"Few sights in science are sadder than astronomers standing in the rain."
-Dennis Overbye, New York Times Article, Grasping for Light of Distant Worlds, June 22, 2004

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.."
-Ellen Parr

"By thought I embrace the universal."
-Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

"For everyone... must see that astronomy compells the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another."
-Plato (427-347 B.C.)

"The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living."
-Jules Henri Poincare

"You do not receive an education any more than you receive a meal. You seek it, order or prepare it, and assimilate and digest it for yourself."
-Frank H. T. Rhodes

"The realities of nature surpass our most ambitious dreams."
-Rodin (1837-1868)

"Nature composes some of her loveliest poems for the microscope and the telescope."
-Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends, 1972

"We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.."
-Carl Sagan, quoted in Time, 1980

"Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come... Our universe is a sorry little affair unless it has in it something for every age to investigate..."
-Seneca (8 B.C.-65 A.D.)

"Thoughts... which ten times faster glide than the sun's beams..."
-William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

"All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions."
-Adlai E. Stevenson (1900-1965)

     "Traveling to this meeting [ST ScI Symposium, May 1996] the author [N.R. Tanvir] passed through London Heathrow airport and was stopped by a security guard for a standard interview, which proceeded something like this:
     SG: "What is the purpose of your trip to America?"
     NRT: "I'm going to a conference in Baltimore on the age of the universe."
     SG: "That sounds interesting, do you think you'll decide on an answer or is it something we don't have much idea about yet?"
     NRT: "Well, it's very likely we won't all agree with each other, but I think we're closer to an answer than you might imagine."
     SG: "Oh really, I thought there was a problem with the ages of the globular clusters."!!

     The moral of this story, I think, is that there are people out there, even airport security guards, who are really interested in the big questions about the universe which we are trying to answer...either that or these people receive exceptionally thorough training on how to catch out unsuspecting academics!"
-Nail R. Tanvir, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge

"The stars hang bright above, silent, as if they watched the sleeping earth."
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

"The innocent moon, which nothing does but shine, moves all the laboring surges of the world."
-Francis Thompson, Sister Songs

"The stars are the jewels of the night and perchance surpass anything which day has to show."
-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

"Many men walk by day; few walk by night. It is a different season."
-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

"Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can find his way by moonlight, and see the dawn before the rest of the world."
-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

"Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot remain in the cradle forever."
-Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935)

"I smile because I haven't the slightest idea what's going on."

"Newton's Fourth Law: Physicists congregate periodically in obscure european cities to have their picture taken and then quickly disperse."

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot, hang on and swing."

"Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings, they did it by killing all those who opposed them."

"For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
-Van Gogh

"Reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them."
-Jules Verne

"Life begins perpetually.... Life, forever dying to be born afresh, forever young and eager, will presently stand upon this earth as upon a footstool, and stretch out its realm amidst the stars."
-H. G. Wells (1866-1946)

"We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
-Oscar Wilde

"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."
-Sarah Williams (1837-1868)

"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death."
-Earl Wilson

From Shakespeare in Love...
HENSLOWE: "...allow me to explain about the theater business [although this also applies to Astronomy too, in my opinion]. The natural condition is one of unsurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."
FENNYMAN: "So what do we do?"
HENSLOWE: "Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well."
HENSLOWE: "I don't know. It's a mystery."

"Astronomy is a very dangerous occupation: hundreds of tons of moving metal, high voltages, total darkness, and people who haven't slept much - not a good combination."

For a very large collection of quotes, check out The Quotations Page.

Science and Nature Poems
Physicist Quotes