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Zora Neale Hurston

  • Folklore is the boiled-down juice, or pot-likker, of human living.

  • Ah done been in sorrow's kitchen and Ah done licked out all de pots.

  • Faith hasn't got no eyes, but she' long-legged ...

  • Tain't nothin' Ah hate lak gittin' sin throwed in mah face dat done got cold.

  • Lawd how some folks kin lie! Dey don't wait tuh find out a thing. Some of 'em so expert on mindin' folks' business dat dey kin look at de smoke comin' out yo' chimbley and tell yuh what yuh cookin'.

  • Nobody pushed him uphill, but everybody was willing to lend a hand on the downward shove.

  • Distance is the only cure for certain diseases.

  • Don't you love nobody better'n you do yo'self. Do, you'll be dying befo' yo' time is out.

  • Her tongue is hung in de middle and works both ways.

  • Belief in magic is older than writing. So nobody knows how it started.

  • Among the thousand white persons, I am a dark rock surged upon, and overswept.

  • An envious heart makes a treacherous ear.

  • There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

  • The spirit of the marriage left the bedroom and took to living in the parlor.

  • It was like sewing ruffles on a fence of nails. The will to make life beautiful was so strong.

  • Women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget.

  • Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. This is the life of men.

  • Learning without wisdom is a load of books on a donkey's back.

  • Slogans can be worse than swords if they are only put in the right mouths.

  • ... once you wake up thought in a man, you can never put it to sleep again.

  • ... fighting is a game where everybody is the loser.

  • She all dressed up so till it would take a doctor to tell her how near she is dressed to death.

  • Silence is all the genius a fool has ...

  • Happiness is nothing but everyday living seen through a veil.

  • ... want won't kill you half as quick as worry will.

  • I wish I could buy you for what you are really worth and sell you for what you think you're worth. I sure would make money on the deal.

  • I been through living for years. I just ain't dead yet.

  • The liquor of statecraft is distilled from the mash you got.

  • It seems like the first law of Nature is that everybody likes to receive things, but nobody likes to feel grateful.

  • ... the present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.

  • To a haughty belly, kindness is hard to swallow and harder to digest.

  • Everybody has some special road of thought along which they travel when they are alone to themselves. And his road of thought is what makes every man what he is.

  • All her life, my daughter's been going around looking for a throne to sit on.

  • ... every heart has its graveyard.

  • Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at de sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.

  • 'Hello, there! Call your dogs!' That is the regular way to call in the country because nearly everybody who has anything to watch has biting dogs.

  • I did not know then, as I know now, that people are prone to build a statue of the kind of person that it pleases them to be. And few people want to be forced to ask themselves, 'What if there is no me like my statue?'

  • ... grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.

  • Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.

  • It seems to me that trying to live without friends is like milking a bear to get cream for your morning coffee. It is a whole lot of trouble, and then not worth much after you get it.

  • Love, I find, is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much.

  • I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrappen in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.

  • Light came to me when I realized that I did not have to consider any racial group as a whole. God made them duck by duck and that was the only way I could see them.

  • Nothing that God ever made is the same thing to more than one person. That is natural. There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, sees it from its own angle. So every man's spice-box seasons his own food.

  • There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves.

  • Just then, Death finished his prowling through the house on his padded feet and entered the room. He bowed to Mama in his way, and she made her manners and left us to act out our ceremonies over unimportant things.

  • When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners.

  • Everybody is two beings: one lives and flourishes in the daylight and stands guard. The other being walks and howls at night.

  • Friendship is a mysterious and ocean-bottom thing. Who can know the outer ranges of it? Perhaps no human being has ever explored its limits.

  • I have known the joy and pain of deep friendship. I have served and been served. I have made some good enemies for which I am not a bit sorry. I have loved unselfishly, and I have fondled hatred with the red-hot tongs of Hell. That's living.

  • There is nothing to make you like other human beings so much as doing things for them.

  • It's a funny thing, the less people have to live for, the less nerve they have to risk losing — nothing.

  • That is the way with people ... If they do you wrong, they invent a bad name for you, a good name for their acts and then destroy you in the name of virtue.

  • She [Ethel Waters] is one of the strangest bundles of people that I have ever met. You can just see the different folks wrapped up in her if you associate with her long. Just like watching an open fire — the color and shape of her personality is never the same twice.

  • Grown people know that they do not always know the why of things, and even if they think they know, they do not know where and how they got the proof. Hence the irritation they show when children keep on demanding to know if a thing is so and how the grown folks got the proof of it. It is so troublesome because it is disturbing to the pigeonhole way of life.

  • There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.

  • I want a busy life, a just mind and a timely death.

  • [Proverbs] are short sayings made out of long experience.

  • Her days had nothing in them now but hours. Hours that somebody else had gotten all the light and service out of and chunked them away.

  • I'll bet when you get down on them rusty knees and get to worrying God, He just goes in His privy-house and slams the door. That's what He thinks about you and your prayers.

  • No, I do not weep at the world — I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.

    • Zora Neale Hurston,
    • "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" (1928), in Alice Walker, ed., I Love Myself When I Am Laughing ... And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive ()
  • Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me.

    • Zora Neale Hurston,
    • "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" (1928), in Alice Walker, ed., I Love Myself When I Am Laughing ... And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive ()
  • The game of keeping what one has is never so exciting as the game of getting.

    • Zora Neale Hurston,
    • "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" (1928), in Alice Walker, ed., I Love Myself When I Am Laughing ... And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive ()
  • I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background. For instance at Barnard. 'Beside the waters of the Hudson' I feel my race. Among the thousand white persons, I am a dark rock surged upon, and overswept, but through it all, I remain myself. When covered by the waters, I am; and the ebb but reveals me again. ... The cosmic Zora emerges. I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads.

    • Zora Neale Hurston,
    • "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" (1928), in Alice Walker, ed., I Love Myself When I Am Laughing ... And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive ()
  • Taint no law on earth dat kin make a man be decent if it aint in 'im.

    • Zora Neale Hurston,
    • "Sweat" (1928), in Alice Walker, ed., I Love Myself When I Am Laughing ... And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive ()
  • He moves a great deal. So often ... that every time he comes out into his backyard the chickens lie down and cross their legs, ready to be tied up again.

    • Zora Neale Hurston,
    • "The Eatonville Anthology", in Alice Walker, ed., I Love Myself When I Am Laughing ... And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive ()
  • Ah seen a man so ugly till they spread a sheet over his head at night so sleep could slip up on him.

    • Zora Neale Hurston,
    • "The Bone of Contention" (1931), The Complete Stories
  • Those that don't got it, can't show it. Those that got it, can't hide it.

    • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Work is the nearest thing to happiness that I can find.

    • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Talk is a refuge.

    • Zora Neale Hurston
  • The sun, the hero of every day, the impersonal old man that beams as brightly on death as on birth, came up every morning.

    • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.

    • Zora Neale Hurston
  • I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother's side was not an Indian chief.

    • Zora Neale Hurston,
    • How It Feels to Be Colored Me
    • ()
  • Gods always behave like the people who make them.

  • Justice, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

  • I know that nothing is destructible; things merely change forms.

  • If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it.

    • Zora Neale Hurston
  • ... the inescapable fact that stuck in my craw, was: my people had sold me and the white people had bought me . . . . It impressed upon me the universal nature of greed and glory.

  • The African slave trade is the most dramatic chapter in the story of human existence. Therefore a great literature has grown up about it. ... All the talk, printed and spoken, has had to do with ships and rations ... with native kings and bargains sharp and sinful on both sides; with tribal wars and slave factories and red massacres and all the machinations necessary to stock a barracoon with African youth on the first leg of their journey from humanity to cattle ... All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold ... not one word from the cargo. The thoughts of the 'black ivory,' the 'coin of Africa,' had no market value. Africa’s ambassadors to the New World have come and worked and died, and left their spoor, but no recorded thought.

Zora Neale Hurston, U,S, writer, novelist, folklorist, cultural anthropologist

(1891 - 1960)

Anyone who hasn’t read Hurston yet … well, you know what you have to do.