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quotations about desire

Desire quote

There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.


Passing into higher forms of desire, that which slumbered in the plant, and fitfully stirred in the beast, awakes in the man.

HENRY GEORGE, Progress and Poverty

Abstinence sows sand all over
The ruddy limbs and flaming hair,
But Desire gratified
Plants fruits of life and beauty there.

WILLIAM BLAKE, Gnomic Verses

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.

BIBLE, Proverbs 13:19

What is it men in women to require?
The lineaments of gratified desire.
What is it women do in men require?
The lineaments of gratified desire.

WILLIAM BLAKE, Gnomic Verses

We grow like flowers, and bear desire, The odor of the human flowers.

RICHARD HENRY STODDARD, The Squire of Low Degree--The Princess Answers

It will not do, my friend, to grant an easy indulgence to natural appetite and desire, for they ever seek to be our masters.

T.S. ARTHUR, "A Mystery Explained," After a Shadow and Other Stories

Desire: the starting point of all achievement.

NAPOLEON HILL, Think and Grow Rich

Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?


The man's desire is for the woman; but the woman's desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man.

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, Table Talk, July 23, 1827

Where perception is, there also are pain and pleasure, and where these are, there, of necessity, is desire.


Naked I seek the camp of those who desire nothing.


Sex ... or lack thereof ... is at the center of everyone's identity, and once you've cracked someone's desires, you understand them in full.

ARIANNE COHEN, Marie Claire Magazine, March 2008

We are the mediocre,
we are the half givers,
we are the half lovers,
we are the savourless salt.

Break the hard crust
of complacency.
Quicken in us
the sharp grace of desire.

CARYLL HOUSELANDER, attributed, Soul Weavings

Long only for what you have.

It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire and many things to fear.


I've wandered over many lands, and reaped withal no fruit,
I've laid my pride of rank aside, and pressed my baffled suit,
At stranger boards, like shameless crow, I've eaten bitter bread,
But fierce Desire, that raging fire, still clamours to be fed.

BHARTRHARI, "Against the Desire of Worldly Things"

Desire rules over men, those half-gods vain,
And is the tyrant of their heart and brain.


That's the funny thing about knowing you can't have something. It makes you desperate.


As all-consuming as a young girl's fancies were ... a woman's desires could be twice as dangerous.

TERESA MEDEIROS, The Vampire Who Loved Me

It is only by frequent deaths of ourselves and our self-centered desires that we can come to live more fully.


The dead are happy, having no desire.
I rise and fall, and rise and fall again,
Something is in me, famishing for bread,
Baffled and unappeasable as fire.


Nought's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content.


Human nature, at its best, had always been based on a deep heroic restlessness, on wanting something--something else, something more, whether it be true love or a glimpse just beyond the horizon. It was the promise of happiness, not the attainment of it, that had driven the entire engine, the folly and glory of who we are.


The best joke of all is to give someone just what they've wanted.


The moth unwitting rushes on the fire,
Through ignorance the fish devours the bait,
We men know well the foes that lie in wait,
Yet cannot shun the meshes of desire.

BHARTRHARI, "Against the Love of Beauty"

Unsatisfied desire is the characteristic feature of human life. That is the common fact out of which both pessimism and optimism are constructed. Dwell on the impossibility of ever getting a state of complete and permanent satisfaction with what you have, and you become a pessimist. Dwell on the opportunity for endless growth and conquest which this same fact makes possible, and you become an optimist.

WILLIAM DEWITT HYDE, The Art of Optimism

If any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies.


Desire: the starting point of all achievement.

Desire animates the world. It is present in the baby crying for milk, the girl struggling to solve a math problem, the woman running to meet her lover and later deciding to have children, and the old woman, hunched over her walker, moving down the hall of the nursing home at a glacial pace to pick up her mail. Banish desire from the world, and you get a world of frozen beings who have no reason to live and no reason to die.


The central fire is desire, and all the powers of our being are given us to see, to fight for, and to win the object of our desire. Quench that fire and man turns to ashes.

BASIL W. MATURIN, Laws of the Spiritual Life

The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked in wrath.


Want is a growing giant whom the coat of have was never large enough to cover.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Conduct of Life

We are desire. It is the essence of the human soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it. Not a symphony has been written, a mountain climbed, an injustice fought, or a love sustained apart from desire. Desire fuels our search for the life we prize. Our desire, if we will listen to it, will save us from committing soul-suicide, the sacrifice of our hearts on the altar of "getting by." The same old thing is not enough. It never will be.


Desire, like the atom, is explosive with creative force.

PAUL VERNON BUSER, attributed, Webster's Quotations, Facts and Phrases

When you believe, or are led to believe, you are unable to act upon the greatest desires of the soul, the result is mental and spiritual enslavement.


There's a wall between you and what you want and you got to leap it.

BOB DYLAN, "Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar"

When I desire you a part of me is gone.

ANNE CARSON, Eros the Bittersweet

Obsession is so extreme and so hard to imagine with the rational mind that it has a science-fiction-like quality to it--it's almost as if the obsessed one has been taken over by a replica, a pod, a facsimile of the rational person. When one is in the grip of an obsession, everything else--children, regular meals, sleep, work--is swept away. The entire being is one yearning, frothing bath of desire. It's the dirty trick of obsession that getting its way--spending time with the object of desire, having sex with the object of desire--doesn't lessen the obsession, but increases it. Although an addict, while obsessed, truly believes that being with the object of the obsession will cure the obsession, the opposite is true. When an alcoholic promises that all he needs is one last bender to achieve satisfaction, he's chasing a chimera.

SUSAN CHEEVER, Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction

A desire scorned and neglected is an enemy lying in wait with bared dagger.

ABRAHAM MILLER, Unmoral Maxims

Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously near to wanting nothing.

SYLVIA PLATH, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

A human soul devoid of longing was a soul deformed, deprived of its highest good, sick unto death.

SAUL BELLOW, Ravelstein

Thoughts are to the Desires as Scouts and Spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things Desired.


Why can I never set my heart on a possible thing?

URSULA K. LE GUIN, The Left Hand of Darkness

Always there is desire,
only the shape
of what is desired shifts,
each love giving way to another.


If you want a thing--truly want it, want it so badly that you need it as you need air to breathe, then unless you die, you will have it. Why not? It has you. There is no escape. What a cruel and terrible thing escape would be if escape were possible.

OCTAVIA E. BUTLER, Parable of the Talents

Desires satisfied are but as seeds sown a second time.


Desire is oft the morning star of Love,
And Love the Hesper of fulfilled Desire.

RICHARD GARNETT, De Flagello Myrtes

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