The Sweet Serenity of Solitude


I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but
delicious in the years of maturity.

Albert Einstein


The Conditions of a Solitary Bird

The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
The first, that it flies to the highest point;
The second, that it does not suffer for company,
not even of its own kind;
The third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
The fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
The fifth, that it sings very softly.

these are the words of
San Juan de la Cruz in his "Sayings of Light and Love"
and quoted in "Tales of Power" by Carlos Castaneda


It is better to live alone in the desert,
than with a crabby, complaining wife.
Proverbs 21:19


Writing is a solitary occupation.
Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer.
He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage
if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.
Jessamyn West


Loneliness is the poverty of self;
solitude is the richness of self.
May Sarton


I love people. I love my family, my children . . .
but inside myself is a place where I live all alone
and that's where you renew your springs that never dry up.
Pearl S. Buck


What I must do is all that concerns me,
not what the people think.
This rule, equally arduous in actual and intellectual life,
may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness.
It is the harder, because you will always find
those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.
It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion;
it is easy in solitude to live after our own;
but the great person is one who in the midst of the crowd
keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Do not allow yourself to be imprisoned by any affection.
Keep your solitude.
The day, if it ever comes, when you are given true affection
there will be no opposition between interior solitude and friendship, quite the reverse.
It is even by this infallible sign that you will recognize it.
Simone Weil


It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers.
The more solitary I am the more affection I have for themů.
Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.
Thomas Merton


Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron)
Source: Childe Harold (canto IV, st. 33)


That he was never less at leisure than when at leisure:
nor that he was ever less alone than when alone.
[Lat., Nunquam se minus otiosum esse quam cum otiosus;
nec minus solum quam cum solus esset.]
Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
Source: De Officiis (bk. III, ch. I)


I praise the Frenchman; his remark was shrewd,--
"How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude."
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper--Solitude is sweet.
William Cowper Source: Retirement (l. 739), quotation is also attributed to Jean de la Bruyere
and to Jean Louis Guez de Ba


Oh, for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumour of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more!
William Cowper
Source: Task (bk. II, l. 1)


Solitude is the nurse of enthusiasm,
and enthusiasm is the true parent of genius.
In all ages solitude has been called for--has been flown to.
Isaac D'Israeli
Source: Literary Character of Men of Genius (ch. X)


There is a society in the deepest solitude.
Isaac D'Israeli
Source: Literary Character of Men of Genius (ch. X)


So vain is the belief that the sequestered path has fewest flowers.
Thomas Doubleday
Source: Sonnet--The Poet's Solitude


Thrice happy he, who by some shady grove,
Far from the clamorous world; doth live his own;
Though solitary, who is not alone,
But doth converse with that eternal love.
William Drummond (1)
Source: Urania; or, Spiritual Poems


I was never less alone than when by myself.
Edward Gibbon
Source: Memoirs (vol. I, p. 117)


Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife.
Thomas Gray
Source: Elegy in a Country Churchyard (st. 19)

A bore is a person who deprives you of solitude
without providing you with company.
Gian Vincenzo Gravina




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