XII. Life

The Stages of Life by Caspar David Friedrich


Art is long, life is short.[1]

The vanity of human life is like a river,

constantly passing away,

and yet constantly coming on.[2]


Man’s life is like a candle in the wind,

or hoar-frost on the tiles.[3]

This world is a comedy to those that think,

a tragedy to those that feel.[4]


Life is half spent,

Before we know what it is.

Life is but a span.[5]

Life is short and time is swift.


Life is a pilgrimage.

Life is a shadow.

Life means strife.

Long life has long misery.


Every day of thy life is a leaf in thy history.

They who live longest, will see the most.

The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party,

When the masks are dropped.[6]


Would that life were like the shadow cast by a wall or a tree,

but it is like the shadow of a bird in flight.[7]

The art of living is more like that of wrestling than of dancing.

The main thing is to stand firm and be ready for an unforeseen attack.[8]


All men should strive to learn before they die;

What they are running from, and to, and why.[9]

If there is another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.[10]


For he who lives more lives than one

more deaths than one must die.[11]

He alone deserves liberty and life

who daily must win them anew.[12]


The man who can most truly be counted brave;

is he who best knows the meaning of what

is sweet in life and what is terrible;

and then goes out undeterred to meet what is to come[13].


Real life is to most men, a long second best,

A perpetual compromise between the ideal and the possible.[14]

The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.[15]

After the game, the king and pawn go into the same box.[16]


Life is a long lesson in humility.[17]

Life can only be understood backwards;

but it must be lived forwards.[18]


One man in his time plays many parts.[19]

The purpose of life is a life of purpose[20].

He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.[21]


[1] Attributed to Hippocrates. Ars longa, vita brevis.

[2] Attributed to Alexander Pope.

[3] Chinese Proverb.

[4] Attributed to Horace Walpole.

[5] Adapted from Psalms 39:5.

[6] Attributed to Schopenhauer.

[7] A quotation from the Talmud.

[8] Attributed to Marcus Aurelius.

[9] Attributed to James Thurber.

[10] Attributed to Robert Burns.

[11] Attributed to Oscar Wilde.

[12] Attributed to Goethe.

[13] Attributed to Pericles.

[14] Attributed to Bertrand Russell.

[15] Attributed to William James.

[16] Italian proverb.

[17] Attributed to Sir James M. Barrie.

[18] Attributed to Kierkegaard.

[19] A quotation from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’.

[20] Attributed to Robert Byrne.

[21] Attributed to Nietzsche.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: