When I dance, I dance; when I sleep, I sleep; yes, and when I walk alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts have been dwelling elsewhere, I bring them back to the walk, to the orchard, to the sweetness of this solitude, and to me.
(Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), French essayist. "Of Experience," The Essays (Les Essais), bk. III, ch. 13, Abel Langelier, Paris (1588).)
Egotism erects its center in itself; love places it out of itself in the axis of the universal whole. Love aims at unity, egotism at solitude. Love is the citizen ruler of a flourishing republic, egotism is a despot in a devastated creation.
(Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845), German poet. Philosophical Letters, no. IV.)
Love is made by two people, in different kinds of solitude. It can be in a crowd, but in an oblivious crowd.
(Louis Aragon (1897-1982), French poet. taped discussion in La Révolution Surréaliste, no. 11 (Paris, March 15, 1928), repr. In Recherches sur la Sexualité (January 1928-August 1932). "Second Session," ed. José Pierre (1990).)
Humility provides everyone, even him who despairs in solitude, with the strongest relationship to his fellow man, and this immediately, though, of course, only in the case of complete and permanent humility.
(Franz Kafka (1883-1924), Prague German Jewish author, novelist. The Fourth Notebook, February 24, 1918. The Blue Octavo Notebooks, ed. Max Brod, trans. by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins. Exact Change, Cambridge, MA (1991). Dearest Father: Stories and Other Writings, trans. by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins, New York, Schocken Books (1954).)
The bar ... is an exercise in solitude. Above all else, it must be quiet, dark, very comfortableand, contrary to modern mores, no music of any kind, no matter how faint. In sum, there should be no more than a dozen tables, and a clientele that doesn't like to talk.
(Luis Buñuel (1900-1983), Spanish filmmaker. My Last Sigh, ch. 6 (1983).
From his autobiography.)
In his lonely solitude, the solitary man feeds upon himself; in the thronging multitude, the many feed upon him. Now choose.
(Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher, classical scholar, critic of culture. Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, vol. 2, p. 520, eds. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Berlin, de Gruyter (1980). Mixed Opinions and Maxims, aphorism 348, "From the Land of the Cannibals," (1879).)
... it is the desert's grimness, its stillness and isolation, that bring us back to love. Here we discover the paradox of the contemplative life, that the desert of solitude can be the school where we learn to love others.
(Kathleen Norris (b. 1947), U.S. poet and farmer. Dakota, ch. 20 (1993).
Norris lived in rural Lemmon, South Dakota, a town of 1,600 people.)