Inspiring Quotes by Goethe

In Goethe’s phrases we discover a humanist who believes in ethics as the way to make sense of the existence of men and societies. We put ourselves in the hands of a writer out of the ordinary, who influenced Western thought as a whole.

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Georges Eliot defined Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as the greatest man of letters in the history of Germany. Therefore, to refer to Goethe’s phrases is simply to approach the tip of the iceberg of a writer and thinker out of the ordinary.

He is considered one of the most important intellectuals of the eighteenth century and one of the best writers in history. In the phrases of Goethe you can glimpse his genius, but only by immersing himself in his work is it possible to grasp the enormous dimension of this writer.

Goethe not only exercised a remarkable influence among all the writers after him, but was also decisive for the great German philosophers who succeeded him. Let’s see, then, some of those Goethe phrases that are frequently cited.

“Sometimes our destination resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches will green and blossom? But we hope so and we know that it will be so.”


The legacy for children

This is one of those beautiful phrases by Goethe that still finds reflection in reality. It says the following: “There are only two lasting legacies that we can expect to give our children. One of them is roots, the other, wings. “

When he talks about roots, Goethe refers to childhood and the history that it configures. Much of our destiny is written in some way at this stage. When it refers to the wings, it refers to the ability we have to project ourselves into the future. Both, in truth, are great legacies.

The hypotheses and their value

Goethe tells us the following:

“The hypotheses are scaffolds that are placed before the building and are removed at the end of the works. They are essential for the mason, who however must not take the scaffolding for the building “.

The scientific side, is not really the best known of Goethe. However, he explored, although without much success, this field. Although this statement is directed to science, it is also applicable to life. Simply, conjectures are not facts.

One of Goethe’s phrases about change

This is one of Goethe’s most beautiful phrases. He points out: “Life belongs to the living, and the one who lives must be prepared for the changes”. The beauty of this affirmation resides in the simplicity with which it expresses one of the great universal truths.

In one way or another, it makes the concepts of statism and death equivalent. What does not change… is not alive. Everything that is alive is in permanent mutation and the wisest thing is to be prepared for that continuous transformation.


This is another one of those Goethe phrases in which we find a very inspiring touch. It says:

“Whatever you can or dream you can, start it. The atrevemient have intelligent, power and magic. Start it now. “

It is very invigorating that he speaks thus of daring. Not only does he see it as a virtue, but he also points out that it has a special force. Seeking dreams come true and acting on that purpose is something that no one should postpone.

The little dreams

In this phrase Goethe also talks about dreams. Indicates the following: “Do not dream small dreams because they have no power to move the heart of man.” It is very interesting to link the dimension of desire with that of motivation.

It means that only large companies are capable of really moving us into action. The small objectives, those that do not frighten or shake us, are not strong enough to completely capture our will to act.

It is necessary to listen

As a celebrity of his time, Goethe was the subject of much praise, but also of strong criticism. Nobody with as much authority as he to affirm the following thing:

“It is a great virtue of the serene man to hear everything that they censor against him, to correct what is true and not to be altered by what is a lie”.

This reflection calls for the independence of criteria. Also to convert the negative actions of others into sources of growth. The condition to achieve it is one: to maintain serenity. Listen to criticism with the mind and not with the heart.

Talent and character

This is another of the fabulous phrases of the German genius; in particular, it reflects a key to human reality. He says:

“Talent is cultivated in calmness; character is formed in the stormy waves of the world.”

What gives value to his sentence is the fact that it specifies the circumstances that favor the development of talent and character. To polish and increase skills and abilities you need peace of mind. To develop the character it is necessary to face great tests.

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana described Goethe as “the most enlightened mankind”. Maybe he’s right The admirable thing, in any case, is that this great German writer has been able to communicate his genius and his thought in such an original way.