Isak Dinesen quote

"I was young, and by instinct of self-preservation I had to collect my energy on something, if I were not to be whirled away with the dusk on the farm-roads, or the smoke on the plain. I begun in the evenings to write stories, fairy-tales, and romances, that would take my mind a long way off, to other countries and times."

Isak Dinesen

Born: April 17, 1885

Die: September 7, 1962

Occupation: Author

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More quotes of Isak Dinesen

Isak Dinesen

I start with a tingle, a kind of feeling of the story I will write. Then come the characters, and they take over, they make the story.

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Isak Dinesen

I don't think... one get a flash of happiness once, and never again; it is there deep within you...

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Isak Dinesen

Of all the idiots I have met in my life, and the Lord knows they have not been few or little, I think that I have been the biggest.

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Isak Dinesen

You must not think that I feel, in spite of it having ended in such defeat, that my "life has been wasted" here, or that I would exchange it with that of anyone I know.

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Isak Dinesen

What is life when you come to think upon it, but a most excellent, accurately set, infinitely complicated machine for turning fat playful puppies into old mangy blind dogs, and proud war horses into skinny...

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Isak Dinesen

Humanity has made a great error in seizing on a certain moment, no more intrinsically notable than any other moment and has called it Birth. The habit of honoring one single instant of the universal process...

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Isak Dinesen

through the loveliness and power of her dream world she was now, in her old frock and botched shoes, very likely the loveliest, mightiest and most dangerous person on earth

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Isak Dinesen

One does not travel by plane. One is merely sent, like a parcel.

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Isak Dinesen

I have read true piety defined as: loving one’s destiny unconditionally – and there is something in it. That is to say: I think that in a way this sort of “religiousness” is the condition for real...

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Isak Dinesen

The divine art is the story.

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Isak Dinesen

I beg of you, you good people who want to hear stories told: look at this page and recognize the wisdom of my grandmother and of all old story-telling women!

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Isak Dinesen

Write a little every day, without hope, without despair.

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Isak Dinesen

I don't believe in evil; I believe only in horror. In nature there is no evil, only an abundance of horror: the plagues and the blights and the ants and the maggots.

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Isak Dinesen

A visitor is a friend, he brings news, good or bad, which is bread to the hungry minds in lonely places. A real friend who comes to the house is a heavenly messenger, who brings the panis angelorum.

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Isak Dinesen

There was a place in the Hills, on the first ridge in the Game Reserve, that I myself at the time when I thought that I was to live and die in Africa, had pointed out to Denys as my future burial-place....

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Isak Dinesen

You can't change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.

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Isak Dinesen

What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?

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Isak Dinesen

There is something about Safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows

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Isak Dinesen

Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.

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Isak Dinesen

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.

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Isak Dinesen

When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.

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Isak Dinesen

I think it will be truly glorious when women become real people and have the whole world open to them.

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Isak Dinesen

God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.

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Isak Dinesen

A great artist is never poor.

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Isak Dinesen

Love, with very young people, is a heartless business. We drink at that age from thirst, or to get drunk; it is only later in life that we occupy ourselves with the individuality of our wine.

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Isak Dinesen

When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are...

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Isak Dinesen

The Cicada sing an endless song in the long grass, smells run along the earth and falling stars run over the sky, like tears over a cheek. You are the privileged person to whom everything is taken. The...

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Isak Dinesen

The entire being of a woman is a secret which should be kept.

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Isak Dinesen

It is more than their land that you take away from the people, whose native land you take. It is their past as well, their roots and their identity. If you take away the things that they have been used...

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Isak Dinesen

Coffee, according to the women of Denmark, is to the body what the Word of the Lord is to the soul.

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Isak Dinesen

Then Martine said: "So yuo will be poor now all your life, Babette?" Poor?" said Babette. She smiled as if to herself. "No, I shall never be poor. I told you that I am a great artist. A great artist, Mesdames,...

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Isak Dinesen

There are many ways to the recognition of truth, and Burgundy is one of them.

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Isak Dinesen

Be unswervingly and eternally loyal to the story.

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Isak Dinesen

It is not the visions but the activity which makes you happy, and the joy and glory of the flier is the flight itself. . . Every time I have gone up in an aeroplane and looked down have realized I was...

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Isak Dinesen

Man reaches the highest point of lovableness at 12 to 17 - to get it back, in a second flowering, at the age of 70 to 90

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Isak Dinesen

The present is always unsettled, no one has had time to contemplate it in tranquillity . I was a painter before I was a writer and a painter never wants the subject right under his nose; he wants to stand...

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Isak Dinesen

Who tells a finer tale than any of us. Silence does.

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Isak Dinesen

The air was cold to the lungs, the long grass dripping wet, and the herbs on it gave out their spiced astringent scent. In a little while on all sides the Cicada would begin to sing. The grass was me ,...

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Isak Dinesen

In those days I had various strong inclinations, for wine, gambling and cockfighting, and the society of gypsies, together with a passion for theological discussion which I had inherited from my father...

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Isak Dinesen

I felt that Paris was illuminated by a splendor possessed by no other places.

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Isak Dinesen

It is a good thing to be a great sinner. Or should human beings allow Christ to have died on the Cross for the sake of our petty lies and our paltry whorings

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Isak Dinesen

Truth is for tailors and shoemakers. I, on the contrary, have always held that the Lord has a penchant for masquerades.

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Isak Dinesen

I belong to an ancient, idle, wild, and useless tribe... I am a storyteller.

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Isak Dinesen

Do you know a cure for me?" Why yes," he said, "I know a cure for everything. Salt water." Salt water?" I asked him. Yes," he said, "in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.

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Isak Dinesen

You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.

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Isak Dinesen

I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

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Isak Dinesen

All sorrows can be borne if you can put them into a story.

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Isak Dinesen

There are things which cannot be carried through even with the good will of everybody concerned

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Isak Dinesen

When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her music.

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Isak Dinesen

It is when one begins to lose the consciousness of freedom, and when the idea of necessity enters the world at all, when there is any hurry or strain anywhere, a letter to be written or a train to catch,...

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Isak Dinesen

There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.

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Isak Dinesen

I have a feeling that wherever I may be in the future, I will be wondering whether there is rain at Ngong.

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Isak Dinesen

A giraffe is so much a lady that one refrains from thinking of her legs, but remembers her as floating over the plains in long garb, draperies of morning mist her mirage.

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Isak Dinesen

Africa, amongst the continents, will teach it to you: that God and the Devil are one, the majesty coeternal, not two uncreated but one uncreated, and the Natives neither confounded the persons nor divided...

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Isak Dinesen

There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne - bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive. One only feels...

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Isak Dinesen

Man and woman are two locked caskets, of which each contains the key to the other.

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Isak Dinesen

It is little silly to be a caricature of something of which you know very little, and which means very little to you, but to be your own caricature — that is the true carnival!

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Isak Dinesen

People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue. They also know...

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Isak Dinesen

We must leave our mark on life while we have it in our power.

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Isak Dinesen

Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me a chance to do my best.

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Isak Dinesen

I do not know if you remember the tale of the girl who saves the ship under mutiny by sitting on the powder barrel with her lighted torch and all the time knowing that it is empty? This has seemed to me...

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Isak Dinesen

Up in this air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.

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Isak Dinesen

It is impossible that a town will not play a part in your life, it does not even make much difference whether you have more good or bad things to say of it, it draws your mind to it, by a mental law of...

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Isak Dinesen

No domestic animal can be as still as a wild animal. The civilized people have lost the aptitude of stillness, and must take lessons in silence from the wild before they are accepted by it.

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Isak Dinesen

There is a particular hapiness in giving a man whom you like very much, good food that you have cooked yourself.

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Isak Dinesen

I was young, and by instinct of self-preservation I had to collect my energy on something, if I were not to be whirled away with the dusk on the farm-roads, or the smoke on the plain. I begun in the evenings...

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Isak Dinesen

Here I am, where I am supposed to be.

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Isak Dinesen

It is a sad hardship and slavery to people who live in towns, that in their movements they know of one dimension only; they walk along the line as if they were led on a string. The transition from the...

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Isak Dinesen

But by the time that I had nothing left, I myself was the lightest thing of all for fate to get rid of.

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Isak Dinesen

our longing is our pledge, and blessed are the homesick, for they shall come home.

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Isak Dinesen

I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

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Isak Dinesen

Where the storyteller is loyal, eternally and unswervingly loyal to the story, there, in the end, silence will speak. Where the story has been betrayed, silence is but emptiness. But we, the faithful,...

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Isak Dinesen

The lime trees were in bloom. But in the early morning only a faint fragrance drifted through the garden, an airy message, an aromatic echo of the dreams during the short summer night.

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Isak Dinesen

It's an odd feeling-farewell-there is some envy in it. Men go off to be tested for courage and if we're tested at all, it's for patience, for doing without, for how well we can endure loneliness.

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Isak Dinesen

To be a person is to have a story to tell.

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Isak Dinesen

If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air...

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“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss