Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Heinrich Heine

German Poet, Satirist, Journalist and Literary Critic

"A daring beginning is half way to winning."

"He who fears to venture as far as his heart urges and his reason permits, is a coward; he who ventures further than he intended to go, is a slave."

"Our souls must become expanded by the contemplation of Nature’s grandeur, before we can fully comprehend the greatness of man."

"Seriousness shows itself more majestic when laughter leads the way."

"Terrible as is war, it yet displays the spiritual grandeur of man daring to defy his mightiest hereditary enemy - death."

"The deepest truth blooms only from the deepest love."

"The men of the past had convictions, while we moderns have only opinions."

"The worst of poisons: to mistrust (despair) one's power."

"The worst of worms: the dagger thoughts of doubt."

"Thought is invisible nature; nature, visible thought."

"Thought precedes action as lightning does thunder."

"We keep on deceiving our selves in regard to our faults, until we at last come to look upon them as virtues."

"What poetry there is in human tears!"

"Whether a revolution succeeds or miscarries, men of great hearts will always be its victims."

"While we are indifferent to our good qualities, we keep on deceiving ourselves in regard to our faults, until we at last come to look upon them as virtues."

"Every age has its problem, by solving which, humanity is helped forward."

"Experience is a good school, but the fees are high."

"Food can never make one noble."

"Like a great poet, Nature produces the greatest results with the simplest means. These are simply a sun, flowers, water and love. Of course, if the spectator be without the last, the whole will present but a pitiful appearance; and, in that case, the sun is merely so many miles in diameter, the trees are good for fuel, the flowers are classified by stamens, and the water is simply wet."

"Matter never becomes evil except when it is forced to conspire in secret against the usurpations of spirit."

"Poverty rocks the cradle of all our great men, and remains their faithful companion throughout life."

"Sir, do not mock our dreamers... Their words become the seeds of freedom."

"The arrow belongs not to the archer when it has once left the bow; the word no longer belongs to the speaker when it has once passed his lips."

"The Bible is the great medicine chest of humanity."

"The essence of music is revelation... There is something marvelous in music. I might almost say it is, in itself, a marvel. Its position is somewhere between the region of thought and that of a phenomena; a glimmering medium between mind and matter, related to both and yet differing from either. Spiritual, and yet requiring rhythm; material, and yet independent of space... It is spirit, yet in need of time, rhythm; it is matter, yet independent of space."

"The happiness we owe to a lie is not true happiness."

"The men of action are, after all, only the unconscious instruments of the men of thought."

"Wherever they burn books, they will also, in the end, burn people."

"God will forgive me. That's his business."

"Wise men think out their thoughts; fools proclaim them."

"Wherever books are burned, sooner or later men also are burned."

"He only profits from praise who values criticism. "

"Human misery is too great for men to do without faith. "

"True eloquence consists in saying all that is necessary, and nothing but what is necessary."

"You cannot feed the hungry on statistics. "

"Every man, either to his terror or consolation, has some sense of religion. "

"A single fir-tree, lonely, on a northern mountain height, sleeps in a white blanket, draped in snow and ice. His dreams are of a palm-tree, who, far in eastern lands, weeps, all alone and silent, among the burning sands. "

"There’s a mirror likeness between those two shining, youthfully-fledged figures, though one seems paler than the other and more austere, I might even say more perfect, more distinguished, than he, who would take me confidingly in his arms – how soft then and loving his smile, how blessed his glance! Then, it might well have been that his wreath of white poppies gently touched my forehead, at times, and drove the pain from my mind with its strange scent. But that is transient. I can only, now, be well, when the other one, so serious and pale, the older brother, lowers his dark torch. – Sleep is so good, Death is better, yet surely never to have been born is best. "

"A blaspheming Frenchman is a spectacle more pleasing to die Lord than a praying Englishman."

"And once again we plighted our troth, and titter'd, caress'd, kiss'd so dearly."

"And over the pond are sailing two swans all white as snow; sweet voices mysteriously wailing pierce through me as onward they go. They sail along, and a ringing sweet melody rises on high; and when the swans begin singing, they presently must die."

"A pine tree standeth lonely in the North on an upland bare; it standeth whitely shrouded with snow, and sleepeth there. It dreameth of a Palm tree which far in the East alone, in the mournful silence standeth on its ridge of burning stone."

"All I really want is enough to live on, a little house in the country... and a tree in the garden with seven of my enemies hanging in it."

"And yonder sits a maiden, the fairest of the fair, with gold in her garment glittering, and she combs her golden hair."

"As at times a moonbeam pierces through the thickest cloudy rack, so to me, through days so dreary, one bright image struggles back. Seated all on deck, we floated down the Rhine's majestic stream; on its borders, summer-laden, slept the peaceful evening-gleam. Brooding, at the feet I laid me of a fair and gentle one, on whose placid, pallid features played the ruddy-golden sun. Lutes were ringing, youth® were singing, swelled my heart with feeling strange; bluer grew the heaven above us, wider grew the spirit's range. Fairy-like beside us flitted rock and ruin, wood and plain; and I gazed on all reflected in my loved one's eyes again."

"As the moon's fair image quaketh In the raging waves of ocean, Whilst she, in the vault of heaven, Moves with silent peaceful motion."

"As the stars are the glory of the sky, so great men are the glory of their country, yea, of the whole earth. The hearts of great men are the stars of earth; and doubtless when one looks down from above upon our planet, these hearts are seen to send forth, a silvery light just like the stars of heaven."

"Ask me not what I have, but what I am."

"All special charters of freedom must be abrogated where the universal law of freedom is to flourish."

"And the dancing has begun now, and the dancers whirl round gaily in the waltz's giddy mazes, and the ground beneath them trembles."