Silence – select quotes

But silence never shows itself to so great an advantage, as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation, provided that we give no just occasion for them.
~ Joseph Addison, in the Tatler, no. 133

Silence is the secret to sanity.
~ Astrid Alauda

The deepest rivers make least din, the silent soule doth most abound in care.
~ William Alexander

Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.
~ Muhammad Ali, in More Than a Hero

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation… tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
~ Jean Arp

Silence is a text easy to misread.
~ A. A. Attanasio, in The Eagle and the Sword

He who does not know how to be silent will not know how to speak.
~ Ausonius

Silence is the virtue of fools.
~ Francis Bacon

An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.
~ Walter Bagehot

It is the space between the notes that makes the music.
~ Noah Benshea

Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.
~ Josh Billings

Silence is one of the great arts of conversation, as allowed by Cicero himself, who says, ‘there is not only an art, but an eloquence in it.’ A well bred woman may easily and effectually promote the most useful and elegant conversation without speaking a word. The modes of speech are scarcely more variable than the modes of silence.
~ Tom Blair

It is a great misfortune neither to have enough wit to talk well nor enough judgment to be silent.
~ Jean de la Bruyere

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.
~ Octavia Butler

Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.
~ Thomas Carlyle

Speech is great, but silence is greater.
~ Thomas Carlyle, in Past and Present

I think the first virtue is to restrain the tongue; he approaches nearest to gods who knows how to be silent, even though he is in the right.
~ Cato the Elder

Consider in silence whatever any one says: speech both conceals and reveals the inner soul of man.
~ Marcus Porcius Cato

Silence is the unbearable repartee.
~ G. K. Chesterton

Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Silence is the true friend that never betrays.
~ Confucius

Silence is the ultimate weapon of power.
~ Charles De Gaulle

Silence is the mother of truth.
~ Benjamin Disraeli

If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z, X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut.
~ John Dryden, in Astroea Redux

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.
~ Will Durant

Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most.
~ Bob Dylan

In silence man can most readily preserve his integrity.
~ Meister Eckhart

Speech may be barren; but it is ridiculous to suppose that silence is always brooding on a nestful of eggs.
~ George Eliot

I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.
~ George Eliot

The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds…Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.
~ Jim Elliott

Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Silence is true wisdom’s best reply.
~ Euripides

Silence is the wit of fools.
~ Anatole France

As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a folly.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Writing is a struggle against silence.
~ Carlos Fuentes

True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.
~ D.T. Gentry

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.
~ Mahatma Ghandi

I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind, yet strangely, I am ungrateful to those teachers.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Silence heals foolishness.
~ Baltasar Gracian, in A Pocket Mirror For Heroes

A man’s silence is wonderful to listen to.
~ Thomas Hardy

Silence is exhilarating at first – as noise is – but there is a sweetness to silence outlasting exhilaration, akin to the sweetness of listening and the velvet of sleep.
~ Edward Hoagland

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
~ Aldous Huxley, in Music at Night

Silence is as full of potential wisdom and wit as the unhewn marble of great sculpture.
~ Aldous Huxley

Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects… totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.
~ Aldous Huxley

It is as important to cultivate your silence power as your word power.
~ William James

Silence propagates itself, and the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find anything to say.
~ Samuel Johnson

You hesitate to stab me with a word, and know not – silence is the sharper sword.
~ Samuel Johnson

The most profound statements are often said in silence.
~ Lynn Johnston, in For Better or For Worse

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen for – sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive or quite and calm…. One of the greatest sounds of them all – and to me it is a sound – is utter, complete silence.
~ Andre Kostelanetz

Accustomed to the veneer of noise, to the shibboleths of promotion, public relations, and market research, society is suspicious of those who value silence.
~ John Lahr

There are grammatical errors even in his silence.
~ Stanislaw J. Lec, in Unkempt Thoughts

From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
~ C.S. Lewis, in The Apologists Evening Prayer

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private.
~ C.S. Lewis

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
~ Abraham Lincoln

‘Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.
~ Abraham Lincoln

Nothing is more useful than silence.
~ Menander of Athens

It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.
~ Thomas Merton

Now all my teachers are dead except silence.
~ W.S. Merwin

God’s poet is silence! His song is unspoken,
And yet so profound, so loud, and so far,
It fills you, it thrills you with measures unbroken,
And as soft, and as fair, and as far as a star.
~ Joaquin Miller

Not merely an absence of noise, Real Silence begins when a reasonable being withdraws from the noise in order to find peace and order in his inner sanctuary.
~ Peter Minard

Oppression can only survive through silence.
~ Carmen de Monteflores

It is especially in private personal intercourse that God can bless and sanctify you. In the church, the understanding is kept active, and you have the ordinances of preaching, united prayer and praise, to keep you occupied. But we do not there always know whether the heart is really dealing with God, is taking delight in Him. This takes place in solitude. O, accustom yourself, then, to be alone with the Lord your God. Not only speak to Him: let Him speak to you: let your heart be the temple in whose holy silence His voice is heard. Rest in God: then will God say of your heart: This is my rest, here will I dwell. (Ps. 122:13,14)
~ Andrew Murray, in The Lord’s Day

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.
~ Mother Teresa

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.
~ Martin Niemoller

The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread.
~ Blaise Pascal

True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.
~ William Penn

The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.
~ Sylvia Plath, in The Bell Jar

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
~ Bible, Proverbs 17:28

Silence is medication for sorrow.
~ Arab Proverb

Silence is a fence around wisdom.
~ German Proverb

Speech is silver; silence is golden.
~ German proverb

A silent mouth is sweet to hear.
~ Irish Proverb

To silence another, first be silent yourself.
~ Latin Proverb

Keep quiet and people will think you a philosopher.
~ Latin proverb

It is better wither to be silent, or to say things of more value than silence. Sooner throw a pearl at hazard than an idle or useless word; and do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in a few.
~ Pythagoras

No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.
~ Sam Rayburn

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
~ Rachel Naomi Remen

Silence is the safest course for any man to adopt who distrusts himself.
~ François de la Rochefoucauld

Silence is more musical than any song.
~ Christina Rossetti

The essence of lying is in deception, not in words; a lie may be told in silence, by equivocation, by the accent on a syllable, by a glance of the eye attaching a peculiar significance to a sentence; but all of these kinds of lies are worse and baser by many degrees than a lie plainly worded.
~ John Ruskin, in Modern Painters

Nothing is so good for an ignorant man as silence; and if he was sensible of this he would not be ignorant.
~ Saadi

It is a great thing to know the season for speech and the season for silence.
~ Seneca

Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I could say how much.
~ William Shakespeare, in Much Ado about Nothing, Act 2 scene 1

The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.
~ William Shakespeare, in The Winter’s Tale

Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.
~ George Bernard Shaw, in Back to Methuselah

I believe in the discipline of silence and could talk for hours about it.
~ George Bernard Shaw

My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.
~ Edith Sitwell

He had occasional flashes of silence, that made his conversation perfectly delightful.
~ Sydney Smith, referring to Macaulay

The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak.
~ Baruch Spinoza

I have often lamented that we cannot close our ears with as much ease as we can our eyes.
~ Richard Steele

The cruelest lies are often told in silence.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.
~ Publilius Syrus, in Maxims

Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage.
~ Publilius Syrus

Their silence is sufficient praise.
~ Terence

Her hearing was keener than his, and she heard silences he was unaware of.
~ D.M. Thomas

Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation.
~ James Thurber

A good word is an easy obligation; but not to speak ill, requires only our silence, which costs nothing.
~ John Tillotson

Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven. This is definitely not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for listening is not today a part of popular religion. We are at the opposite end of the pole from there. Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God. But we may take heart. To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict God says, `Be still, and know that I am God,’ (Ps 46:10) and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.
~ A.W. Tozer, in The Pursuit of God

Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.
~ Martin Fraquhar Tupper

The pause – – that impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence, which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words, howsoever felicitous, could accomplish it.
~ Mark Twain

Silence is a source of great strength.
~ Lao Tzu

There is a wide difference between speaking to deceive, and being silent to be impenetrable.
~ Voltaire