Solitude and Contemplation

"Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius."
Sir Edward Gibbon

"Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either
a wild beast or a god."


"Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where moult the wings which will bear it farther than the suns and the stars. He who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from traveling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions. "In the morning - solitude;" said Pythagoras; that Nature may speak to the imagination, as she does never in company, and that her favorite may take acquaintance with those divine strengths which disclose themselves to serious and abstracted thought. 'Tis very certain that Plato, Plotinus, Archimedes, Hermes, Newton, Milton, Wordsworth, did not live in a crowd, but descended into it from time to time as benefactors: and the wise instructor will press this point of securing to the young soul in the disposition of time and the arrangements of living, periods and habits of solitude." -- from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Conduct of Life"


Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breath his native air
      In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
      In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind;
      Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mixed, sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
      With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
      Tell where I lie.

Alexander Pope