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quotations about eternity

Shall not this bygone Eden that we knew
In our Eternal Life have shape and hue?
For where Time is not shall not all Time be?
In that calm breast whereto our souls are cleaving
Shall we not find our loved ones beyond grieving
About the hearth-stone of Eternity?


Beauty is a precarious trace that eternity causes to appear to us and that it takes away from us. A manifestation of eternity, and a sign of death as well. Often it seems to me to be an evil flower of nothingness, or else the cry of the world as it dies, or a desperate, sumptuous prayer.

EUGENE IONESCO, Present Past / Past Present

Time ... thou ceaseless lackey to eternity.


Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key
That opes the palace of Eternity.


O, dread and dire word. Eternity! What mind of man can understand it?

JAMES JOYCE, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Man passes; he knows that he is dust; nothing is more evident than his frailty. If he should for a single moment forget it, what a chorus of voices would recall it to him! And yet, in the drop of existence which he absorbs, he takes in ages through memory and ages through presentiment. In the moments as they pass, he dimly sees eternity, and more than this, he possesses it by anticipation.


To see eternity was to be exposed to eternity's whims, oppressed by endless dimensions.


The best way to deal with eternity is by living it one day at a time.


Time's ruins build eternity's mansions.


Eternity bores me,
I never wanted it.


Objects close to the eye shut out much larger objects on the horizon; and splendors born only of the earth eclipse the stars. So a man sometimes covers up the entire disc of eternity with a dollar, and quenches transcendent glories with a little shining dust.

E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words

I am in terror of the infinity before me, having come through the one behind bringing no knowledge I can take on.


I will pause to consider this eternity from which the subsequent ones derive.

JORGE LUIS BORGES, "A History of Eternity"

If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in just the way in which our visual field has no limits.

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN, Tractacus Logico-Philosophicus

Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness; and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of air: and imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all? Yet at the end of that immense stretch of time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been all carried away, and if the bird came again and carried it all away again grain by grain, and if it so rose and sank as many times as their are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves upon the trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals, at the end of all those innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not one single instant of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of time the mere thought of which makes our very brain real dizzily, eternity would scarcely have begun.

JAMES JOYCE, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Eternity! Didn't it give you the cold shivers?


Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.


The sum total of all sums total is eternal.

LUCRETIUS, De Rerum Natura

Eternity! thou pleasing dreadful thought! Through what variety of untried being, through what new scenes and changes must we pass!


Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where's it going to end?

TOM STOPPARD, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Eternity is so certain and so terrible that a thousand lives would not suffice to prepare for it.

ALPHONSE MARIE LOUIS DE LAMARTINE, Last Night and Execution of the Girondists

Forever is composed of Nows—
'Tis not a different time—
Except for Infiniteness—
And Latitude of Home—

EMILY DICKINSON, "Forever is composed of Nows"

The vanity which adheres to the world in every form, when its pleasures and occupations are regarded as ultimate objects, is at once corrected when they are viewed in connexion with a boundless futurity; and whatever may be their intrinsic value, they rise into dignity and importance when considered as the seed of a future harvest, as the path which, however obscure, leads to honour and immortality.

ROBERT HALL, funeral sermon for the Princess Charlotte of Wales

Eternity is not an everlasting flux of time, but time is as a short parenthesis in a long period; and eternity had been the same as it is, though time had never been.

JOHN DONNE, Book of Devotions

The Present is the point at which time touches eternity.

C. S. LEWIS, The Screwtape Letters

Eternity is the divine treasure-house, and hope is the window, by means of which mortals are permitted to see, as through a glass darkly, the things which God is preparing.


In eternity there is no time, only an instant long enough for a joke.

HERMANN HESSE, Steppenwolf

Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity.



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