Zora Neale Hurston Quotes and Life Lessons

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was a memoirist, novelist and folklorist who was well known during the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston was the first black student to study at Barnard college and later in her career received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Her most influential work is Their Eyes Were Watching God, though most all of her other works have been revived and studied after having been virtually forgotten.

With much to say about life, love, and writing, here are some typically exuberant and wise Zora Neale Hurston quotes and life lessons.

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“I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.”

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“Learning without wisdom is a load of books on a donkey’s back.”

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“Life is the flower for which love is the honey.”

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“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.” (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942)

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“They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.” (Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937)

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“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” (Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937)

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“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.” (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942)

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“No man may make another free.”

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“An envious heart makes a treacherous ear.”

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“A thing is mighty big when time and distance cannot shrink it.” (Tell My Horse1938)

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“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. It is a seeking that he who wishes may know the cosmic secrets of the world and they that dwell therein.” (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942)

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Zora Neal Hurston quote

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I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads.”

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“Once you wake up thought in a man, you can never put it to sleep again.”

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“Gods always behave like the people who make them.” (Tell My Horse1938)

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

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“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

 

“Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships.” (Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937)

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“Love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.” (Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937)

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“If writers were too wise, perhaps no books would get written at all. It might be better to ask yourself ‘Why?’afterwards than before … There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”

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Zora Neale Hurston quotes

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“Happiness is nothing but everyday living seen through a veil.”

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“Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.”

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“Love, I find is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much.” (Dust Tracks on the Road, 1942)

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“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” (Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937)

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“Once you wake up thought in a man, you can never put it to sleep again.”

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“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.”

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“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

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“Bitterness is the coward’s revenge on the world for having been hurt.”

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“I love myself when I am laughing. . . and then again when I am looking mean and impressive.”

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“Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.”

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“If you haven’t got it, you can’t show it. If you have got it, you can’t hide it.”

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“Such as I am, I am a precious gift.”

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“I made up my mind to keep my feelings to myself since they did not seem to matter to anyone but me.” (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942)

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“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.”

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“Nothing that God ever made is the same thing to more than one person.”

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“Grown people know that they do not always know the way of things, and even if they think they know, they do not know where and how they got the proof.” (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942)

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

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“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.”

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“My head was full of misty fumes of doubt.”


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