„But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.“

Martin Luther King photo
Martin Luther King4
pasteur baptiste afro-américain 1929 - 1968
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Ralph Waldo Emerson photo

„When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.“

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson American philosopher, essayist, and poet 1803 - 1882
Widely attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson on the internet; however, a presumably definitive source of Emerson's works at http://www.rwe.org fails to confirm any occurrence of this phrase across his works. This phrase is found in remarks attributed to Charles A. Beard in Arthur H. Secord, "Condensed History Lesson", Readers' Digest, February 1941, p. 20; but the origin has not been determined. Possibly confused with a passage in "Illusions" in which Emerson discusses his experience in the "Star Chamber": "our lamps were taken from us by the guide, and extinguished or put aside, and, on looking upwards, I saw or seemed to see the night heaven thick with stars glimmering more or less brightly over our heads, and even what seemed a comet flaming among them. All the party were touched with astonishment and pleasure. Our musical friends sung with much feeling a pretty song, “The stars are in the quiet sky,” &c., and I sat down on the rocky floor to enjoy the serene picture. Some crystal specks in the black ceiling high overhead, reflecting the light of a half–hid lamp, yielded this magnificent effect." <!-- Also found in the speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I've Been to the Mountain Top" (April 3, 1968); but King attributes it to Beard in his sermon "The death of evil upon the seashore", as printed in Strength to Love (1963), p. 83 in the 1981 edition. -->

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Martin Luther King, Jr. photo

„Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world.“

—  Martin Luther King, Jr. American clergyman, activist, and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement 1929 - 1968
Context: As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" — I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there. I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn't stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and esthetic life of man. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I'm named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg. But I wouldn't stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. But I wouldn't stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy." Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya: Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — "We want to be free."

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Annie Dillard photo
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Fyodor Dostoyevsky photo

„They pointed to the stars and told me something about them which I could not understand, but I am convinced that they were somehow in touch with the stars, not only in thought, but by some living channel.“

—  Fyodor Dostoyevsky Russian author 1821 - 1881
Context: They showed me their trees, and I could not understand the intense love with which they looked at them; it was as though they were talking with creatures like themselves. And perhaps I shall not be mistaken if I say that they conversed with them. Yes, they had found their language, and I am convinced that the trees understood them. They looked at all Nature like that — at the animals who lived in peace with them and did not attack them, but loved them, conquered by their love. They pointed to the stars and told me something about them which I could not understand, but I am convinced that they were somehow in touch with the stars, not only in thought, but by some living channel. IV

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Nick Drake photo
Imelda Marcos photo

„When I go out into the barrios, I get dressed because I know my little people want to see a star.“

—  Imelda Marcos Former First Lady of the Philippines 1929
Context: I am my little people's star and slave. When I go out into the barrios, I get dressed because I know my little people want to see a star. Other presidents' wives have gone to the barrios wearing housedresses and slippers. That's not what people want to see. People want someone they can love, someone to set an example. Quoted in The Los Angeles Times (1980).

Poul Anderson photo

„Better a life like a falling star, bright across the dark, than a deathlessness which can see naught above or beyond itself.“

—  Poul Anderson American science fiction and fantasy writer 1926 - 2001
Chapter 28 (p. 206) Note: In the first edition of the book, this quote reads: Better a life like a falling star, brief and bright across the dark, than the long, long waiting of the immortals, loveless and cheerlessly wise.

Mike Oldfield photo
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