My favorite quotation

My all-time favorite quotation suddenly becomes very relevant. Again.


“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”


From the day I first came across it maybe 50 years ago this has been my favorite quotation. It’s always attributed to Goethe, but I’ve learned in recent years that it’s not from Goethe. Not exactly. It’s actually a paraphrase of Goethe in a passage from W.H. Murray’s The Scottish Himalaya Expedition:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

          “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
          Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

The history is of special interest to me because it traces back to a book about mountaineering; that makes it even more meaningful. But the brief couplet is easy to remember and says it all.

Now seems a particularly good time to post it in a prominent place … again.

8 thoughts on “My favorite quotation”

    1. Love that one too. It’s sometimes the only way to tackle an overwhelming task — find one small part to deal with and get past it, and then move on to the next. So apropos for my situation. Thanks for recalling it.

"You don’t have to say everything to say something." ~Beth Moore

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