„What is life if not the shadow of a fleeting dream?“

—  Umberto Eco, book Baudolino

Source: Baudolino

Last update May 22, 2020. History
Umberto Eco photo
Umberto Eco119
Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic… 1932 - 2016

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Pedro Calderón de la Barca photo

„What is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story. And the greatest good is little enough: for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams.“

—  Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Life is a Dream

¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño;
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son.
Variant:
What is this life? A frenzy, an illusion,
A shadow, a delirium, a fiction.
The greatest good's but little, and this life
Is but a dream, and dreams are only dreams.
(trans. Roy Campbell)
Segismundo, Act II, l. 1195.
La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream)

George Walter Thornbury photo

„Man’s life is but a jest,
A dream, a shadow, bubble, air, a vapor at the best.“

—  George Walter Thornbury British writer 1828 - 1876

The Jester’s Sermon. Compare: "Life is a jest and all things show it; I thought so once, but now I know it", John Gay, My own Epitaph; "Life is an empty dream", Robert Browning, Paracelsus, ii.; "Life ’s but a series of trifles at best", Anonymous.

Joseph Addison photo
Pindar photo

„Creatures of a day! What is a man?
What is he not? A dream of a shadow
Is our mortal being.“

—  Pindar Ancient Greek poet -517 - -437 BC

Pythian 8, line 95-8; pages 162-3. (446 BC)
Original: (el) ἐπάμεροι: τί δέ τις;<br/>τί δ᾽ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ<br/>ἄνθρωπος. ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν αἴγλα διόσδοτος ἔλθῃ,<br/>λαμπρὸν φέγγος ἔπεστιν ἀνδρῶν καὶ μείλιχος αἰών
Context: Creatures of a day! What is a man?
What is he not? A dream of a shadow
Is our mortal being. But when there comes to men
A gleam of splendour given of Heaven,
Then rests on them a light of glory
And blesséd are their days.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky photo

„A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream?“

—  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, book The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Source: The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (1877), V
Context: A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream? I will say more. Suppose that this paradise will never come to pass (that I understand), yet I shall go on preaching it. And yet how simple it is: in one day, in one hour everything could be arranged at once! The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that's the chief thing, and that's everything; nothing else is wanted — you will find out at once how to arrange it all. And yet it's an old truth which has been told and retold a billion times — but it has not formed part of our lives! The consciousness of life is higher than life, the knowledge of the laws of happiness is higher than happiness — that is what one must contend against. And I shall. If only everyone wants it, it can be arranged at once.

Euripidés photo

„Come back. Even as a shadow, even as a dream.“

—  Euripidés ancient Athenian playwright -480 - -406 BC

Carlos Ruiz Zafón photo
Lewis Carroll photo

„Life, what is it but a dream?“

—  Lewis Carroll English writer, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer 1832 - 1898

„Man is a dream about a shadow. But when some splendour falls upon him from God, a glory comes to him and his life is sweet.“

—  R.S. Thomas Welsh poet 1913 - 2000

Neb [No-one] (1985)
Context: On seeing his shadow fall on such ancient rocks, he had to question himself in a different context and ask the same old question as before, "Who am I?", and the answer now came more emphatically than ever before, "No-one."
But a no-one with a crown of light about his head. He would remember a verse from Pindar: "Man is a dream about a shadow. But when some splendour falls upon him from God, a glory comes to him and his life is sweet."

George William Russell photo

„The twilight fleeted away in pearl on the stream,
And night, like a diamond dome, stood still in our dream.“

—  George William Russell Irish writer, editor, critic, poet, and artistic painter 1867 - 1935

The Nuts of Knowledge (1903)

Louise Imogen Guiney photo
Algernon Charles Swinburne photo

„Night, the shadow of light,
And Life, the shadow of death.“

—  Algernon Charles Swinburne English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic 1837 - 1909

Second chorus, lines 1-12.
Atalanta in Calydon (1865)
Context: Before the beginning of years
There came to the making of man
Time with a gift of tears,
Grief with a glass that ran,
Pleasure with pain for leaven,
Summer with flowers that fell,
Remembrance fallen from heaven,
And Madness risen from hell,
Strength without hands to smite,
Love that endures for a breath;
Night, the shadow of light,
And Life, the shadow of death.

„The shadows broke and soul awoke
In a strange, dim dream of God.“

—  Langdon Smith, Evolution

Evolution (1895; 1909)
Context: Thus life by life and love by love
We passed through the cycles strange,
And breath by breath and death by death
We followed the chain of change.
Till there came a time in the law of life
When o’er the nursing sod,
The shadows broke and soul awoke
In a strange, dim dream of God.

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