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Corra Harris

  • No one has yet had the courage to memorialize his wealth on his tombstone. A dollar mark would not look well there.

  • ... if one's natural feelings are suppressed long enough one develops supernatural feelings and feels surer of having a soul.

  • ... one trouble with all the churches is that they have too many incurable saints in them, men and women who pray too much and do too little, who cannot forget their own selfish salvation enough to look after other people's without feeling their own spiritual pulse all the time they are doing it. Of late I've sometimes suspected that it is nearly as debilitating to stay in the church all the time as it would be to stay in a hospital all the time.

  • It is easier to give all your goods to feed the poor, or not to have any goods — only your virtues, to boast of — than it is to judge the rich with charity ...

  • The bravest thing to do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.

  • ... to be human is to be on the defensive, somewhere, somehow.

  • I believe if we can wait long enough that every honorable sorrow will become a kind of joy.

  • I was not too stupid to learn, but too smart. Some instinct must have warned me that a woman accomplished in the domestic arts is frequently enslaved by them.

  • If you wish to collect complimentary material for a record of yourself, never appeal to your relations. They may be proud of you as an asset to the family name, but they have a gift for remembering your gawky period privately, the follies and faults you committed and have forgotten. You may have come up in the world with a laurel on your brow, but if you go back home forty years later wearing two laurels on your brow, and a noble expression, they will miss the point.

  • ... sanity, in my opinion, is an achievement. I have seen very few well-balanced people in my life who were not dunces.

  • Lundy was stepping along innocently beside me, gracefully silent, no doubt enjoying this silence, for he was one who never practiced speech as a relief for intellectual hysteria. He could retain his thoughts like a gentleman.

  • Nothing fans me into such a state of peaceful mental somnambulance as the intellectual antics of a person who displays his learning, not from vanity always, but frequently because it is all he has got; no real sense, no wisdom of his own, merely much good stuff he has learned from other sources. He spreads it like a garment as any other decent person would to hide the thinness of his shanks.

  • I have always been interested in bores. They are in my opinion the strangest of human phenomena, probably the one type of character it is impossible to dramatize. Has any one ever read a novel entitled 'The Bore'? You have not, because the creative mind cannot produce him. He is automatic mentally. He can learn, frequently more than an intelligent man, but he cannot think. He is without imagination and the personal messengers of sensibility. He never knows or suspects how the other fellow feels. Poor D--- could talk indefinitely in a sensible monotone without the glint of a thought to brighten his durable conversation. To me it has ever been fascinating to watch a good brain work that was totally disconnected from life, charm, or personality.

  • There is something in the quality of the French mind to which I have always felt a reluctant kinship. They are the only people I know who can leap into an enormous vocabulary of words and beat them up with the wings of their spirit into a fine hysterical eloquence.

  • I remember being very smart, which is a form of stupidity. I try not to remember it, but it occurs to me that I may have felt intellectual. I entertained views too noble or too bitter to be true. I must have done some soul-stretching of my mental neck.

  • Mere words will not do. They must convey the color, charm, and pulse of life. They must have a private twinkle of wit in them that makes a good-natured noise like laughter through the keyhole of the reader's mind.

  • Not everything you hear about yourself can be considered good publicity. And if you have delicate sensibilities, the currycomb of public imagination frequently rubs your vanities the wrong way.

  • Invitations to speak upon public occasions are among my most grievous embarrassments. Why is it inferred that one is or can be a public speaker because she has written a book? Writing is a very private business. I do not know any other occupation which requires so much privacy unless it is a life of prayer or a life of crime.

  • Once you grow accustomed to being famous, you do not realize it, but you are never quite your humble, honest self. No matter how tightly you keep the lid on, there is some watered stock of vanity inside. You are always in danger of the thing's coming off and of giving yourself an air or two. No man or woman was ever so distinguished that this exhibition did not make him ridiculous, especially to those of meaner minds.

  • I have long suspected that the power of speech is not a power at all, but a mere form of hysteria from which the living that really know the truth never suffer because they do not fear life or death as we do and can afford to be calm and silent. The frailest flower that blooms knows that it will rise from the dead in the next season's sun, breathe, feel again the dew and rain. Therefore these little ones make no such tragedy as we do of death.

  • Every candidate from the corner type to the more iridescent eloquent type who wants to be a congressman or senator writes to solicit our votes. ... To me it seems a frightful waste of postage, especially when the thing bears a picture of the aspiring author. Yesterday I had such a letter, ornamented with the printed likeness of one who is running for the office of health commissioner in this State, a man so grossly fat that he has practically no lines in his face by which a thought might be expressed. My idea of a health commissioner would be a lean man with a vital athletic expression.

  • Maybe I shall never achieve happiness, but one thing I have had — the terrible wisdom of love.

  • I think now happiness is a thing you practice like music until you have skill in striking the right notes on time. We have no vocation for it. And I had no practice, not a day when I was free from care and one great anxiety — and one must be free to be happy. I know that much about it by having missed it.

  • Words are dangerous things.

  • When you have nothing to lose you have everything to gain.

  • I love truth, although I shall die hating mere facts, because they are misleading.

  • As I have grown older I am more and more convinced that I have not grown up, that my powers have not come to me, not my real wisdom to do and achieve the right thoughts. I lack some dear grace. I cannot seem to steady down and get the single eye. There is a curriculum in living in which I have not studied. This may be happiness. I want to know it; I should feel better prepared for immortality. I do not wish to arrive fagged at last and a bit slipshod in the spirit, as if I had a hard time all my mortal life. It is not complimentary to God.

  • ... war is a ferocious form of insanity. Nothing can justify it.

    • Corra Harris,
    • 1914, in Margaret R. Higonnet, ed., Lines of Fire: Women Writers of World War I ()

Corra Harris, U.S. writer

(1869 - 1935)

Full name: Corra May White Harris.