Famous Quotes & Sayings

E.B. White Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by E.B. White.

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E.B. White Quotes 1847533

Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 2248416

Just to live in the country is a full-time job. You don't have to do anything. The idle pursuit of making a living is pushed to one side, where it belongs, in favor of living itself, a task of such immediacy, variety, beauty, and excitement that one is powerless to resist its wild embrace. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 921330

Some of the published news was distorted, but distortion is inherent in partisan journalism, the same as it is in political rallies. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 376003

The essayist ... can pull on any sort of shirt, be any sort of person, according to his mood or his subject matter - philosopher, scold, jester, raconteur, confidant, pundit, devil's advocate, enthusiast. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1609965

Semi-colons only prove that the author has been to college. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1930433

A despot doesn't fear eloquent writers preaching freedom-he fears a drunken poet may crack a joke that will take hold. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1252423

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 774993

Home was quite a place when people stayed there. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1534795

I see nothing in space as promising as the view from a Ferris wheel. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 474004

New york provides not only a continuing excitation but also a spectacle that is continuing. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1018450

Government is the thing. Law is the thing. Not brotherhood, not international cooperation, not security councils that can stop war only by waging it ... Where does security lie, anyway - security against the thief, a bad man, the murderer? In brotherly love? Not at all. It lies in government. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 234126

We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny ... The most alarming spectacle today is not the spectacle of the atomic bomb in an unfederated world, it is the spectacle of the Americans beginning to accept the device of loyalty oaths and witch hunts, beginning to call anybody they don't like a Communist. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1426942

I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1175657

A candidate could easily commit political suicide if he were to come up with an unconventional thought during a presidential tour. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 2034860

Being the owner of Dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the Dachshund and why he can't be trained and shouldn't be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a Dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 156313

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter - the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
... Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 2171686

A man's liberal and conservative phases seem to follow each other in a succession of waves from the time he is born. Children are radicals. Youths are conservatives, with a dash of criminal negligence. Men in their prime are liberals (as long as their digestion keeps pace with their intellect). The middle aged run to shelter: they insure their life, draft a will, accumulate mementos and occasional tables, and hope for security. And then comes old age, which repeats childhood - a time full of humors and sadness, but often full of courage and even prophecy. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1992652

Before the seed there comes the thought of bloom. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 183675

So I told [the doctor] about my hay fever, which used to rage just in summertime but now simmers the year round, and he listened listlessly as though it were a cock and bull story; and we sat there for a few minutes and neither of us was interested in the other's nose, but after a while he poked a little swab up mine and made a smear on a glass slide and his assistant put it under the microscope and found two cells which delighted him and electrified the whole office, the cells being characteristic of a highly allergic system. The doctor's manner changed instantly and he was full of the enthusiasm of discovery and was as proud of the two little cells as though they were his own. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1486626

The light strengthened, the mornings came sooner. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 195602

Whenever the bed was occupied during the daylight hours, whether because one of us was sick or was napping, Fred would appear in the doorway and enter without knocking. On his big gray face would be a look of quiet amusement (at having caught somebody in bed during the daytime) coupled with his usual look of fake respectability. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1642454

A book is a sneeze. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 357884

The circus comes as close to being the world in microcosm as anything I know; in a way, it puts all the rest of show business in the shade. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1463669

An unhatched egg is to me the greatest challenge in life. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 782293

When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 827876

It is Sunday, mid-morning-Sunday in the living room, Sunday in the kitchen, Sunday in the woodshed, Sunday down the road in the village: I hear the bells, calling me to share God's grace. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 90404

Extreme cold when it first arrives seems to generate cheerfulness and sociability. For a few hours all life's dubious problems are dropped in favor of the clear and congenial task of keeping alive. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 96761

Geese are friends to no one, they bad mouth everybody and everything. But they are companionable once you get used to their ingratitude and false accusations. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 122877

Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than in a whole one. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 210969

Much of our adult morality, in books and out of them, has a stuffiness unworthy of childhood. Our grown-up conclusions often rest on perilously soft bottom. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 217972

I was sorry for her, as I am for any who are evicted from their haunts by the younger and stronger - always a sad occasion for man or beast. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 232872

At this season of the year, darkness is a more insistent thing than cold. The days are short as any dream. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 250371

The so-called science of poll-taking is not a science at all but mere necromancy. People are unpredictable by nature, and although you can take a nation's pulse, you can't be sure that the nation hasn't just run up a flight of stairs, and although you can take a nation's blood pressure, you can't be sure that if you came back in twenty minutes you'd get the same reading. This is a damn fine thing. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 291696

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year - the days when summer is changing into autumn - the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 300446

A husband and wife should tell each other about the things that are on their mind, otherwise you get nowhere, — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 309375

You can dissect a joke just as you can a frog. But it tends to die on you. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 322625

By comparison with other less hectic days, the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience- if they did they would live elsewhere. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 332506

It is best to have a strong curiosity, weak affiliations. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 334023

I distrust the slightest hint of a standard for political rectitude, knowing that it will open the way for persons in authority to set arbitrary standards of human behavior. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 458846

Trust me, Wilbur. People are very gullible. They'll believe anything they see in print. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 466742

There's no limit to how complicated things can get, on account of one thing always leading to another. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 557747

Safety is all well and good: I prefer freedom. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 566200

You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 582682

Swamps where cedars grow and turtles wait on logs but not for anything in particular; fields bordered by crooked fences broken by years of standing still; orchards so old they have forgotten where the farmhouse is. In the north I have eaten my lunch in pastures rank with ferns and junipers, all under fair skies with a wind blowing. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 596869

The only sense that is common in the long run, is the sense of change and we all instinctively avoid it. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 629358

In every queen there's a touch of floozy. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 655186

The time not to become a father is eighteen years before a war. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 661713

The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 712691

It is quite possible that an animal has spoken to me and that I didn't catch the remark because I wasn't paying attention. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 755263

Wilbur didn't want food, he wanted love. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 770810

Humor plays close to the big hot fire which is Truth, and sometimes the reader feels the heat. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 794269

His words span rivers and mountains, but his thoughts are still only six inches long. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 804901

His face looked shrewd and wise, as if he knew many things, many of them not worth knowing. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 854729

A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 866320

Sometimes a writer, like an acrobat, must try a trick that is too much for him. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 870664

I discovered a long time ago that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart, the inconsequential but near things of this living, was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace. As a reporter, I was a flop, because I always came back laden not with facts about the case, but with a mind full of the little difficulties and amusements I had encountered in my travels. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 886528

But the city makes up for its hazards and its deficiencies by supplying its citizens with massive doses of a supplementary vitamin-the sense of belonging to something unique, cosmopolitan, mighty and unparalleled ... — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 904480

One of the most interesting accomplishments of the film community, it seems to me, is that it has made real for America the exquisite beauty of incompatibility. Divorce among the gods possesses the sweet, holy sadness that has long been associated with marriage among the mortals. There is something infinitely tender about the inability of an actor to get along with an actress. When it is all over, and the decree is final, the two are even more attentive to each other, are seen oftener together, than ever before. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 991072

I don't know why people feel unhappy when the curve of a graph fails to keep going up, but they do. Even when we find something we'd like to reduce, such as highway fatalities, it doesn't always sound as though we had our heart in it. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1012902

Commuter - one who spends his life In riding to and from his wife; A man who shaves and takes a train And then rides back to shave again. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1030564

I don't understand it, and I don't like what I don't understand. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1031794

Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider's web?"
"Oh, no," said Dr. Dorian. "I don't understand it. But for that matter I don't understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle."
"What's miraculous about a spider's web?" said Mrs. Arable. "I don't see why you say a web is a miracle-it's just a web."
"Ever try to spin one?" asked Dr. Dorian. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1087231

Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don't in don't shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half the people
are right more than half the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths,the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn't been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It's the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1108729

[Writers] should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1115752

It was one of those confused moments, emotionally, when the listener could not be quite sure what position radio was takings - for hurricanes or against them. A — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1129357

Habitually creative people are prepared to be lucky. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1130216

THE BARN was very large. It was very old. It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure. It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows. It often had a sort of peaceful smell - as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1132327

The first day of spring was once the time for taking the young virgins into the fields, there in dalliance to set an example in fertility for nature to follow. Now we just set the clocks an hour ahead and change the oil in the crankcase. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1164481

The United States, almost alone today, offers the liberties and the privileges and the tools of freedom. In this land the citizens are still invited to write their plays and books, to paint their pictures, to meet for discussion, to dissent as well as to agree, to mount soapboxes in the public square, to enjoy education in all subjects without censorship, to hold court and judge one another, to compose music, to talk politics with their neighbors without wondering whether the secret police are listening, to exchange ideas as well as goods, to kid the government when it needs kidding, and to read real news of real events instead of phony news manufactured by a paid agent of the state. This is a fact and should give every person pause. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1175494

Very fine law," said Stuart. "When I am Chairman, anybody who is mean to anybody else is going to catch it. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1206164

Old age is a special problem for me because I've never been able to shed the mental image I have of myself - a lad of about 19. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1217934

The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1291347

The world likes humor, but it treats it patronizingly. It decorates its serious artists with laurel, and its wags with Brussels sprouts. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1384682

A block or two west of the new City of Man in Turtle Bay there is an old willow tree that presides over an interior garden. It is a battered tree, long suffering and much climbed, held together by strands of wire but beloved of those who know it. In a way it symbolizes the city: life under difficulties, growth against odds, sap-rise in the midst of concrete, and the steady reaching for the sun. Whenever I look at it nowadays, and feel the cold shadow of the planes, I think: "This must be saved, this particular thing, this very tree." If it were to go, all would go
this city, this mischevious and marvelous monument which not to look upon would be like death. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1419004

If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1441812

In a sense the world dies every time a writer dies, because, if he is any good, he has been a wet nurse to humanity during his entire existence and has held earth close around him, like the little obstetrical toad that goes about with a cluster of eggs attached to his legs. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1456319

Most people believe almost anything they see in print. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1458717

The young writer should learn to spot them: words that at first glance seem freighted with delicious meaning, but that soon burst in the air, leaving nothing but a memory of bright sound. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1519984

Well," said Stuart, "a misspelled word is an abomination in the sight of everyone. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1545638

I have noticed that most men when they enter a barber shop and must wait their turn, drop into a chair and pick up a magazine. I simply sit down and pick up the thread of my sea wanderings, which began more than fifty years ago and is not quite ended. There is hardly a waiting room in the east that has not served as my cockpit, whether I was waiting to board a train or to see a dentist. And I am usually still trimming sheets when the train starts or drill begins to whine. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1553363

The trend toward the ownership of land by fewer and fewer individuals is, it seems to me, a disastrous thing. For when too large a proportion of the populace is supporting itself by the indirections of trade and business and commerce and art and the million schemes of men in cities, then the complexity of society is likely to become so great as to destroy its equilibrium, and it will always be out of balance in some way. But if a considerable portion of the people are occupied wholly or partially in labors that directly supply them with many things that they want, or think they want, whether it be a sweet pea or a sour pickle, then the public poise will be a good deal harder to upset. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1598524

Who can confidently say what ignites a certain combination of words, causing them to explode in the mind? Who knows why certain notes in music are capable of stirring the listener deeply, though the same notes slightly rearranged are impotent? These are high mysteries, and this chapter is a mystery story, thinly disguised. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1612473

Good things come to those who find it and shove it in their mouth! — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1645833

Place yourself in the background; write in a way that comes naturally; work from a suitable design; write with nouns and verbs; do not overwrite; do not overstate; avoid the use of qualifiers; do not affect a breezy style; use orthodox spelling; do not explain too much; avoid fancy words; do not take shortcuts as the cost of clarity; prefer the standard to the offbeat; make sure the reader knows who is speaking; do not use dialect; revise and rewrite. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1646769

From three to four, he planned to stand perfectly still and think of what it was like to be alive. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1705447

Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1720652

Both tend to speak of national security as though it were still capable of being dissociated from universal well-being; in fact, sometimes in these political addresses it sounds as though this nation, or any nation, through force of character or force of arms, could damn well rise above planetary considerations, as though we were greater than our environment, as though the national verve somehow transcended the natural world. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1764285

Writing is not an exercise in excision, it's a journey into sound. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1802800

Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1844323

Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1845936

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1848903

Thurber did not write the way a surgeon operates, he wrote the way a child skips rope, the way a mouse waltzes. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1883560

but I don't think a President should advertise prayer. That is a different thing. Democracy, if I understand it at all, is a society in which the unbeliever feels undisturbed and at home. If there were only half a dozen unbelievers in America, their well-being would be a test of our democracy, their tranquility would be its proof. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1955753

Muddiness is not merely a disturber of prose, it is also a destroyer of life, of hope: death on the highway caused by a badly worded road sign, heartbreak among lovers caused by a misplaced phrase in a well-intentioned letter, anguish of a traveler expecting to be met at a railroad station and not being met because of a slipshod telegram. Think of the tragedies that are rooted in ambiguity, and be clear! When you say something, make sure you have said it. The chances of your having said it are only fair. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 1977975

Remember that writing is translation, and the opus to be translated is yourself. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 2029032

Einstein is loved because he is gentle, respected because he is wise. Relativity being not for most of us, we elevate its author to a position somewhere between Edison, who gave us a tangible gleam, and God, who gave us the difficult dark and the hope of penetrating it. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 2104873

To achieve style, begin by affecting none. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 2125052

A right is a responsibility in reverse. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 2179700

This was your mother's door. She was loyal, brilliant, beautiful, and she was my friend. I will treasure her memory forever. — E.B. White

E.B. White Quotes 2248000

Never hurry and never worry! — E.B. White