Tears are the secretions of the glands that clean and lubricate the eyes. Strong emotions, such as sorrow or elation, along with irritation of eye, may lead to an increased production of tears, or crying. The process of yawning may also result in increased lacrimation.
- Dear Lord, though I be changed to senseless clay,
And serve the Potter as he turn his wheel,
I thank Thee for the gracious gift of tears!
- Thomas Bailey Aldrich, "Two Moods", Unguarded Gates and Other Poems (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895), p. 56.
- Crying doesn't mean you are [a] good man. It doesn't mean you have a lot of passion. It's about the passion that's within your heart, it's not about your eyes, not about the tears.
- Never fear to weep;
For tears are summer showers to the soul,
To keep it fresh and green.
- Alfred Austin, Savonarola (London: Macmillan and Co., 1881), Act IV, sc. iv; p. 264.
- Astronomers have built telescopes which can show myriads of stars unseen before; but when a man looks through a tear in his own eye, that is a lens which opens reaches in the unknown, and reveals orbs which no telescope, however skilfully constructed, could do ; nay, which brings to view even the throne of God, and pierces the nebulous distance where are those eternal verities in which true life consists.
- Henry Ward Beecher, Life Thoughts (1858), p. 20.
- A lady's tears are silent orators.
- She was a good deal shock'd; not shock'd at tears,
For women shed and use them at their liking;
But there is something when man's eye appears
Wet, still more disagreeable and striking.
- Crying for no reason, feel the tears roll down
I felt strong but am I breaking now?
Crying for no reason 'cause I buried it deep
I made promises I could not keep
'Cause I never faced all the pain I caused
Now the pain is hitting me full force.
- Baptism is the washing away of evils that were in us before, but sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears.
- Saint John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, as translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Holy Transfiguration Monastery: 1959), § 7:6, p. 65
- Eyes are vocal, tears have tongues,
And there be words not made with lungs;
Sententious showers, O, let them fall,
Their cadence is rhetorical.
- Richard Crashaw, "Upon the Death of a Gentleman" (c. 1633–1634), line 27, in The Poems of Richard Crashaw, ed. J. R. Tutin (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1896), pp. 181–182
- how many ears must one man have/Before he can hear people cry?/The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
- Bob Dylan, Blowing in the Wind 1963
- First pray for the gift of tears, so that through sorrowing you may tame what is savage in your soul. And having confessed your transgressions to the Lord, you will obtain forgiveness from Him.
- So often Egypt, Iraq and Syria and other areas in the Holy Land ooze tears.
- Pope Francis, as quoted in "Pope asks Middle East governments to protect Christians" (22 November 2013), Ecumenical News.
- Her face with little drops was wet
Like pansy petals after rain.
- Norman Gale, "To Sleep", line 5, in A Country Muse: Second Series (London: Archibald Constable and Co., 1895), p. 46.
- My ardours for emprize nigh lost
Since life has bared its bones to me,
I shrink to seek a modern coast
Whose riper times have yet to be;
Where the new regions claim them free
From that long drip of human tears
Which peoples old in tragedy
Have left upon the centuried years.
- Thomas Hardy, "On an Invitation to the United States", stanza 1, in Poems of the Past and the Present (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1901), p. 65.
- With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
- There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, of unspeakable love. If there were wanting any arguments to prove that man is not mortal, I would look for it in the strong convulsive emotions of the breast, when the soul has been deeply agitated, when the fountains of feeling are arising, and when the tears are gushing forth in crystal streams. Oh, speak not harshly to the stricken one, weeping in silence. Break not the deep solemnity by rude laughter or intrusive footsteps. Despise not woman’s tears – they are what made an angel. Scoff not if the stern heart of manhood is sometimes melted to tears – they are what help to elevate him above the brute. I love to see tears of affection. They are painful tokens but still most holy. There is a pleasure in tears—an awful pleasure. If there were none on earth to shed a tear for me, I should be loath to live; and if no one might weep over my grave I could never die in peace.
- Samuel Johnson, in "Tears", Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (March 31, 1841), p. 2; in "Sacredness of Tears" by Dr. Johnson, The Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald and North and South Wales Independent (November 20, 1847), p. 6; in "Lessons by the Way; or Things to Think On: Sacredness of Tears," The Christian Witness, and Church Member's Magazine, Volume 11 (1854), p. 561; and in "Lessons by the Way: Tears," The Young Men's Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 8 (December 1857), p. 373
- My tears are buried in my heart, like cave-locked fountains sleeping.
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon Song - I pray thee let me weep to-night, The Venetian Bracelet (1829)
- Thrice he assay'd, and, thrice in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as angels weep, burst forth.
- The glorious Angel, who was keeping
The gates of Light, beheld her weeping;
And, as he nearer drew and listen'd
To her sad song, a tear-drop glisten'd
Within his eyelids, like the spray
From Eden's fountain, where it lies
On the blue flow'r, which—Bramins say—
Blooms nowhere but in Paradise.
- Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh (1817), Paradise and the Peri.
- Sweet tears! the awful language, eloquent
Of infinite affection; far too big
- Robert Pollok, The Course of Time (1827), Book V, line 633.
- But woe awaits a country, when
She sees the tears of bearded men.
- Walter Scott, Marmion (1808), Canto V, Stanza 16.
- 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in.
- The tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.
- The big round tears
Coursed one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase.
- I had not so much of man in me,
And all my mother came into my eyes,
And gave me up to tears.
- With sad unhelpful tears; and with dimm'd eyes
Look after him, and cannot do him good.
- I cannot weep; for all my body's moisture
Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning heart.
- See, see what showers arise,
Blown with the windy tempest of my heart.
- What I should say
My tears gainsay; for every word I speak,
Ye see, I drink the water of mine eyes.
- I am about to weep; but, thinking that
We are a queen, or long have dream'd so, certain
The daughter of a king, my drops of tears
I'll turn to sparks of fire.
- I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries; but thou hast forc'd me,
Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
- He has strangled
His language in his tears.
- If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
- No, I'll not weep:
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I'll weep.
- There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moisten'd.
- When we are born we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.
- That instant shut
My woeful self up in a mourning house,
Raining the tears of lamentation.
- My plenteous joys,
Wanton in fullness, seek to hide themselves
In drops of sorrow.
- And he, a marble to her tears, is washed with them, but relents not.
- Did he break into tears?
In great measure.
A kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces truer than those that are so washed.
- If that the earth could teem with woman's tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
- One, whose subdu'd eyes,
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinal gum.
- Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
Sham'd their aspect with store of childish drops.
- The liquid drops of tears that you have shed
Shall come again, transform'd to orient pearl,
Advantaging their loan with interest
Of ten times double gain of happiness.
- If the boy have not a woman's gift
To rain a shower of commanded tears,
An onion will do well for such a shift.
- Then fresh tears
Stood on her cheeks, as doth the honey-dew
Upon a gather'd lily almost wither'd.
- Why, man, if the river were dry, I am able to fill it with my tears: if the wind were down, I could drive the boat with my sighs.
- I so lively acted with my tears
That my poor mistress, moved therewithal,
- The big round tears run down his dappled face;
He groans in anguish.
- James Thomson, The Seasons, Autumn (1730), line 454.
- Once again, I experienced that overwhelming joy in the universe that I had felt in London outside the V and A. But this time, my consciousness of the world seemed larger, more complex. It was the mystic's sensation of oneness, of everything blending into everything else. Everything I looked at reminded me of something else, which also became present to my consciousness, as if I were simultaneously seeing a million worlds and smelling a million scents and hearing a million sounds-- not mixed up, but each separate and clear. I was overwhelmed with a sense of my smallness in the face of this vast, beautiful, objective universe, this universe whose chief miracle is that it exists, as well as myself. It is no dream, but a great garden in which life is trying to obtain a foothold. I experienced a desire to burst into tears of gratitude; then I controlled it, and the feeling subsided into a calm sense of immense, infinite beauty.
- Colin Wilson in The Philosopher's Stone, p. 237-238 (1969)
- Lorenzo! hast thou ever weigh'd a sigh?
Or studied the philosophy of tears?—
* * * * *
Hast thou descended deep into the breast,
And seen their source? If not, descend with me,
And trace these briny riv'lets to their springs.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night V, line 516.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations edit
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 780-83.
- Fons lacrymarum.
- We weep when we are born,
Not when we die!
- Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Metempsychosis. Phrase found in Les Paroles Remarquables, les Bon Mots et les Maximes Orientaux, Ed. by Galland (1694).
- Filius istarum lacrymarum.
- A child of those tears.
- Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book III. 12. "It cannot be, that a child of those tears (of mine) shall perish." Words of his mother when St. Augustine was influenced by the Manichean Heresy.
- And friends, dear friends,—when it shall be
That this low breath is gone from me,
And round my bier ye come to weep,
Let One, most loving of you all,
Say, "Not a tear must o'er her fall;
He giveth His beloved sleep."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Sleep, Stanza 9.
- Thank God for grace,
Ye who weep only! If, as some have done,
Ye grope tear-blinded in a desert place
And touch but tombs,—look up! Those tears will run
Soon in long rivers down the lifted face,
And leave the vision clear for stars and sun.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tears.
- So bright the tear in Beauty's eye,
Love half regrets to kiss it dry.
- Lord Byron, Bride of Abydos (1813), Canto I, Stanza 8.
- Oh! too convincing—dangerously dear—
In woman's eye the unanswerable tear!
That weapon of her weakness she can wield,
To save, subdue—at once her spear and shield.
- Lord Byron, Corsair, Canto II, Stanza 15.
- What gem hath dropp'd, and sparkles o'er his chain?
The tear most sacred, shed for other's pain,
That starts at once—bright pure—from Pity's mine,
Already polish'd by the hand divine!
- Lord Byron, Corsair, Canto II, Stanza 15.
- There is a tear for all who die,
A mourner o'er the humblest grave.
- Lord Byron, Elegiac Stanzas, On the Death of Sir Peter Parker, Bart.
- A stoic of the woods,—a man without a tear.
- Thomas Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming, Part I, Stanza 23.
- For Beauty's tears are lovelier than her smile.
- Thomas Campbell, Pleasures of Hope, Part I, line 180.
- We look through gloom and storm-drift
Beyond the years:
The soul would have no rainbow
Had the eyes no tears.
- John Vance Cheney, Tears.
- Nihil enim lacryma citius arescit.
- Nothing dries sooner than a tear.
- Cicero, Ad Herrenium, II, 31, 50. De Inventione. I. 56 (quoting Apollonius).
- Words that weep and tears that speak.
- Abraham Cowley, The Prophet, Stanza 2.
- And the tear that is wiped with a little address,
May be follow'd perhaps by a smile.
- William Cowper, The Rose.
- No radiant pearl, which crested Fortune wears,
No gem that twinkling hangs from Beauty's ears,
Not the bright stars which Night's blue arch adorn,
Nor rising suns that gild the vernal morn,
Shine with such lustre as the tear that flows
Down Virtue's manly cheek for others' woes.
- Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden, Part II, Canto III, line 459.
- What precious drops are those,
Which silently each other's track pursue,
Bright as young diamonds in their infant dew?
- John Dryden, The Conquest of Grenada, Part II, Act III, scene 1.
- Weep no more, nor sigh, nor groan,
Sorrow calls no time that's gone:
Violets plucked the sweetest rain
Makes not fresh nor grow again.
- John Fletcher, Queen of Corinth, Act IV, scene 1. Not in original folio. Said to be spurious.
- The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast.
- Thomas Gray, Eton College, Stanza 5.
- Ope the sacred source of sympathetic tears.
- Thomas Gray, Progress of Poesy, III. 1, line 12.
- And weep the more, because I weep in vain.
- Thomas Gray, Sonnet, On the Death of Mr. West.
- Never a tear bedims the eye
That time and patience will not dry.
- Bret Harte, Lost Galleon.
- Accept these grateful tears! for thee they flow,
For thee, that ever felt another's woe!
- Homer, The Iliad, Book XIX, line 319. Pope's translation.
- My tears must stop, for every drop
Hinders needle and thread.
- Thomas Hood, Song of the Shirt.
- Oh! would I were dead now,
Or up in my bed now,
To cover my head now
And have a good cry!
- Thomas Hood, A Table of Errata.
- Si vis me flere, dolendum est
Primum ipsi tibi.
- If you wish me to weep, you yourself must first feel grief.
- Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), V. 102.
- If the man who turnips cries,
Cry not when his father dies,
'Tis a proof that he had rather
Have a turnip than his father.
- Samuel Johnson, ridiculing Lope de Vega's lines, "Se acquien los leones vence," etc.
- On parent knees, a naked new-born child
Weeping thou sat'st while all around thee smiled;
So live, that sinking in thy last long sleep
Calm thou may'st smile, while all around thee weep.
- Sir William Jones, taken from Enchanted Fruit, Six Hymns to Hindu Deities. See sketch prefixed to his Poetical Works. (1847). Also in his Life, p. 110.
- E'en like the passage of an angel's tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.
- John Keats, To One Who Has Been Long in City Pent.
- All kin' o' smily round the lips
An' teary roun' the lashes.
- James Russell Lowell, Biglow Papers, Second Series, The Courtin', Stanza 21.
- Tell me, ye wingèd winds
That round my pathway roar,
Know ye not some spot
Where mortals weep no more?
- Charles Mackay, Tell Me Ye Winged Winds, The Inquiry.
- Without the meed of some melodious tear.
- John Milton, Lycidas, line 14.
- O dear, dear Jeanie Morrison,
The thochts o' bygane years
Still fling their shadows ower my path,
And blind my een wi' tears.
- William Motherwell, Jeanie Morrison.
- Peter deny'd
His Lord and cry'd.
- New England Primer (1777).
- If you go over desert and mountain,
Far into the country of Sorrow,
To-day and to-night and to-morrow,
And maybe for months and for years;
You shall come with a heart that is bursting
For trouble and toiling and thirsting,
You shall certainly come to the fountain
At length,—to the Fountain of Tears.
- A. W. E. O'Shaughnessy, The Fountain of Tears.
- Interdum lacrymæ pondera vocis habent.
- Tears are sometimes as weighty as words.
- Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, III, 1, 158.
- Flere licet certe: flendo diffundimus iram:
Perque sinum lacrimæ, fluminis instar enim.
- Truly it is allowed us to weep: by weeping we disperse our wrath; and tears go through the heart, even like a stream.
- Ovid, Heroides, 8, 61.
- Est quædam flere voluptas;
Expletur lacrymis egeriturque dolor.
- It is some relief to weep; grief is satisfied and carried off by tears.
- Ovid, Tristium, IV, 3, 37.
- Behold who ever wept, and in his tears
Was happier far than others in their smiles.
- Petrarch, The Triumph of Eternity!, line 95. (Charlemont).
- Sweet drop of pure and pearly light;
In thee the rays of Virtue shine;
More calmly clear, more mildly bright,
Than any gem that gilds the mine.
- Samuel Rogers, On a Tear.
- The tear, down childhood's cheek that flows,
Is like the dewdrop on the rose;
When next the summer breeze comes by
And waves the bush, the flower is dry.
- Walter Scott, Rokeby, Canto IV, Stanza 11.
- The silver key of the fountain of tears.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Two Fragments to Music.
- Heaven is not gone, but we are blind with tears,
Groping our way along the downward slope of Years!
- Richard Henry Stoddard, Hymn to the Beautiful, line 33.
- There are bitter tears in human flesh.
- That which matches my tears hurts my heart alike.
- Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depths of some divine despair.
- Alfred Tennyson, The Princess (1847), Canto IV, line 21.
- Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears,
And make me tremble lest a saying learnt,
In days far-off, on that dark earth, be true?
The gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.
- Alfred Tennyson, Tithonus, Stanza 5.
- Two aged men, that had been foes for life,
Met by a grave, and wept—and in those tears
They washed away the memory of their strife;
Then wept again the loss of all those years.
- Frederick Tennyson, The Golden City, Part I.
- The tears of the young who go their way, last a day;
But the grief is long of the old who stay.
- John Townsend Trowbridge, A Home Idyll, 15.
- Sunt lacrymæ rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
- Tears are the silent language of grief.
- Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique portatif ("A Philosophical Dictionary") (1764), Tears.
- When summoned hence to thine eternal sleep,
Oh, may'st thou smile while all around thee weep.
- Charles Wesley, On an Infant.
- Yet tears to human suffering are due;
And mortal hopes defeated and o'erthrown
Are mourned by man, and not by man alone.
- William Wordsworth, Laodamia.