Silence

The silent soule doth most abound in care.
~ Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirling, from Aurora, First Fancies of the Author's Youth (1604). Song

[W]inds and waters keep
A hush more dead than any sleep.
~ William Allingham, from Day and Night Songs (1854). The Ruined Chapel

Sometimes you have to be silent in order to be heard.
~ Wilma Askinas

Oh, ours was all knowing then, all generous displaying.
Such wisdom we had to show.
And now there is merely silence, silence, silence saying
All we did not know.
~ William Rose Benét, from Starry Harness (1933). Sagacity

[A]nd tenderer pauses speak
The overflow of gladness,
When words are all too weak.
~ William Cullen Bryant, from Poems (1832 edition). The Damsel of Peru

So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny.
~ William Cullen Bryant, from Poems (1821). Thanatopsis (originally printed in the North American Review: 1817; written in 1811)

Modern man has lost the option of silence.
~ William S. Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded (1962).

Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.
~ William S. Burroughs, in The Job: Interviews With William S. Burroughs (1969).

Words did I call them?
My words shall be no words; my voice no voice;
My noise no noise; my very language silence.
~ William Cartwright, The Ordinary (c. 1635). Act III, scene v

[S]ecret study, silent thought, is after all the mightiest agent in human affairs.
~ William Ellery Channing (D.D.), from The Works of William E. Channing, D.D., Volume V (1841). Charge At The Ordination Of The Rev. John Sullivan Dwight (1840)

In hollow murmurs died away.
~ William Collins, from Odes on Several Descriptive and Allegoric Subjects (1746). The Passions: An Ode to Music

Ev'n silence may be eloquent in love.
~ William Congreve, The Old Bachelor (1693). Act II, scene ix

You were about to tell me something, child, but you left off before you began.
~ William Congreve, The Old Bachelor (1693).

When this poor, lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave.
~ William Cowper, from Olney Hymns (1779). Book I: On Select Texts of Scripture. Praise for the Fountain Opened

Good for a man to know when he should be silent; fools babble and are derided.
~ William Scott Downey, Proverbs, by Rev. William Scott Downey (1853 edition).

I prefer silence to sound.
~ William Faulkner, Interview in The Paris Review, Issue 12 (Spring 1956). The Art of Fiction No. 12

One of the deepest truths about the cry of the human heart is that it is so often muted, so often a cry that is never uttered. To be sure, there are needs and feelings that we express quite openly; lying deeper are emotions we share only with loved ones, and deeper still the things we tell no one. We die with much unsaid. It is strange that members of a species renowned for communicative gifts should leave unexpressed some of their deepest yearnings, their smoldering resentments, their worries and secret hopes, their longings to serve a higher purpose.
~ John William Gardner, On Leadership (1990).

Silence is the soul's invisibility.
~ William H. Gass, Commencement Speech at Washington University. St. Louis MO (4 June 1979). Learning to Talk

Please quiet your strange self lest harm come to you.
~ William Giraldi, Busy Monsters (2011).

Or maybe, surely, of course we never know
What we have said, what lonely meanings are read
Into the space we make. And yet I say
This silence here for in it I might hear you.
~ William Sydney (W.S.) Graham, The Constructed Space (1955)

Silence that wins, where eloquence is vain.
~ William Hayley, The Triumphs of Temper (1781).

The most silent people are generally those who think most highly of themselves.
~ William Hazlitt, Characteristics: in the Manner of Rochefoucault's Maxims (1837 edition).

The eyes shout what the lips fear to say.
~ Will Henry (Henry Wilson Allen)

Reform, Reform, the swinish rabble cry --
Meaning, of course, rebellion, blood, and riot --
Audacious rascals! you, my Lords, and I,
Know 'tis their duty to be starved in quiet.
~ William Hone, The Man in the Moon (1820).

He who sleeps in continual noise is wakened by silence.
~ William Dean Howells, in New Monthly Magazine (November 1882). Pordenone

I am the song unheard.
~ William Larminie, from Fand and Other Poems (1892). Moytura

It's the wise head that makes the still tongue!
~ William James (W.J.) Lucas, The Death Plank, or, The dumb sailor boy! (1832). Act I, scene i

The silence was enchanting. Infinite space seemed to enter it and my spirit, alone with the stars, seemed capable of any adventure.
~ W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (1938).

I am naturally taciturn, and became a silent and attentive listener.
~ William Hamilton (W.H.) Maxwell, Stories of Waterloo (1829). My Own Adventure

My wife has to tell me I haven't said anything all day. I've stopped talking, and I'm totally unaware of it.
~ William Keepers Maxwell, Jr., in The Washington Post (26 October 1997).

Now all my teachers are dead except silence.
~ William Stanley (W.S.) Merwin, from The Lice (1967). A Scale in May

Earth, left silent by the wind of night,
Seems shrunken 'neath the gray unmeasured height.
~ William Morris, from The Earthly Paradise (1868-70). December: Introduction

Speak not, move not, but listen, the sky is full of gold.
No ripple on the river, no stir in field or fold,
All gleams but naught doth glisten, but the far-off unseen sea.
~ William Morris, in Scribner's Monthly (November 1870). Fair Weather and Foul

What was silent in the father speaks in the son, and often I found in the son the unveiled secret of the father.
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (1885).

Silence is a powerful weapon.
~ William Osler, quoted in Osler and Other Papers (1931). Osler the Teacher

True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. It is a great virtue; it covers folly, keeps secrets, avoids disputes, and prevents sin.
~ William Penn, Advice to His Children (1699).

Silence is wisdom, where speaking is folly; and always safe.
~ William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude (1693). Part I. Rules Of Conversation

Seeking answers and demanding truth is not treasonous. In these dangerous days, with all that is at stake, the greatest sedition in America is silence.
~ William Rivers Pitt, The Greatest Sedition is Silence: Four Years in America (2003).

A silent man is easily reputed wise. A man who suffers none to see him in the common jostle and undress of life, easily gathers round him a mysterious veil of unknown sanctity, and men honor him for a saint. The unknown is always wonderful.
~ Frederick William (F.W.) Robertson, in Sermons Preached at Brighton (1877). Sermon 40: The First Miracle II. The Glory of the Divine Son (sermon preached January 30, 1853)

Few men suspect how much mere talk fritters away spiritual energy, -- that which should be spent in action, spends itself in words. Hence he who restrains that love of talk, lays up a fund of spiritual strength.
~ Frederick William (F.W.) Robertson

Be sure your wisest words are those
You do not say.
~ Robert William Service, Songs of a Sun-Lover, A Book of Light Verse (1949). Silence

[B]e check'd for silence,
But never tax'd for speech.
~ William Shakespeare, All's Well that Ends Well. Act I, scene ii

Give it an understanding, but no tongue.
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Act I, scene ii

Fire, that is closest kept, burns most of all.
~ William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act I, scene ii

For my part, I am so attired in wonder,
I know not what to say.
~ William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing. Act IV, scene i

Give thy thoughts no tongue.
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Act I, scene iii

Hush, and be mute
Or else our spell is marr'd.
~ William Shakespeare, The Tempest. Act IV, scene i

I do know of these
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing.
~ William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

I like your silence, it the more shows off your Wonder.
~ William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale. Act V, scene iii

I profess not talking; only this --
Let each man do his best.
~ William Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part I. Act V, scene ii

Let there be no noise made, my gentle friends;
Unless some dull and favourable hand
Will whisper music to my weary spirit.
~ William Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part II. Act IV, scene v

My gratious silence, hail!
~ William Shakespeare, Coriolanus

Not a mouse stirring.
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Act I, scene i

Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum.
~ William Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part II. Act I, scene ii

Season your admiration for a while.
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Act I, scene ii

Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little happy if I could say how much.
~ William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing. Act II, scene i

The rest is silence.
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Act V, scene ii

The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.
~ William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale. Act II, scene ii

[T]here was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture.
~ William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale. Act V, scene ii

A person that would secure to himself great deference, will, perhaps, gain his point by silence, as effectually as by any thing he can say.
~ William Shenstone, in Works in Verse and Prose, Vol. II (1764). Essays on Men, Manners, and Things. On Reserve

And sometimes when they look in the fire
they see time going on and someone alone,
but they don't say anything.
~ William Stafford, in The Way It Is (1998). Choosing A Dog

Leave sound in an empty
house in its own room there ...
~ William Stafford, in The Way It Is (1998). Bring The North

Silence on a hill where the path ended
and then the forest below
moving in one long whisper
as evening touched the leaves.
~ William Stafford, Some Things the World Gave

You turn your head --
that's what the silence meant: you're not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.
~ William Stafford, in Learning to Live in the World: Earth Poems by William Stafford (1994). Assurance

Of every noble work the silent part is best,
Of all expression, that which can not be expressed.
~ William Wetmore Story, from Poems By William Wetmore Story (1856). Couplets. III

BE STILL: Be stiller yet; and listen. Set the screen
Of silence at the portal of your will.
Relax, and let the world go by unheard.
And seal your lips with some all-sacred word.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox, from New Thought Pastels (1906). Knowledge

No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox, from Poems of Power (1901). Speech

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Poems of Problems (1914). Protest

Silence about a thing just magnifies it.
~ Thomas Lanier ("Tennessee") Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). Act One

The best thing you can do about critics is never say a word. In the end you have the last say, and they know it.
~ Thomas Lanier ("Tennessee") Williams, Attributed

This world desperately needs silence.
~ Marianne Williamson, Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayers, Rites of Passage (1994). Part II: Prayers. 3: Prayers for the Soul: Filling the Emptiness

O Silence! are Man's noisy years
No more than moments of thy life?
~ William Wordsworth, Yarrow Revisited and Other Poems (1835). On the Power of Sound (1828)

Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
To perish never.
~ William Wordsworth, from Poems in Two Volumes (1807). Ode. Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.
~ William Butler Yeats, from Responsibilities (1914). To a Friend whose Work has Come to Nothing

His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand under his head.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.
~ William Butler Yeats, from Last Poems (1938-39). Long-Legged Fly

I could recover if I shrieked
My heart's agony
To passing bird, but I am dumb
From human dignity.
~ William Butler Yeats, from The Tower (1928). A Man Young And Old

O sweet everlasting Voices, be still.
~ William Butler Yeats, from The Wind Among the Reeds (1899). The Everlasting Voices

When one gets quiet, then something wakes up inside one, something happy and quiet like the stars.
~ William Butler Yeats, The Hour-Glass (1903).

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A Collection of Quotes Based on the Name William