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100 Top Willa Cather Quotes You Must Know

Famous As: Author
Born On: December 7, 1873
Died On: April 24, 1947
Born In: Winchester
Died At Age: 73
Wilella Sibert Cather 'Willa' is a world-acclaimed American author, insightful poet, successful woman journalist and a theatre analyst. She's dearly loved for her novels My Antonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop, the Song of the Lark, O Pioneers! and Sapphira and the Slave Girl that depict regular happening in the frontier life of the Great Plains. Contrary to common notion, Carter didn't spend her life raising multiple children at farms. Rather than exerting her charms on rich men or devoting her life to the Catholic Church, she spent last four decades of her live in the cosmopolitan NY society. Willa’s life as a fiercely independent, intelligent, down-to-earth, affectionate and opinionated woman is an inspiration for modern-day working woman in high-end downtown. This cantankerous writer started off as an editor for 'The Home Monthly' and English teacher at high school, but she moved in with her partner Edith Lewis to live a controversial homosexual life at NYC. In due course Willa attained phenomenal success for her editorial skills through McClure's Magazine. Here elegant writing style is evident in most of her write-ups. Willa maintained an active writing career until her death after which, her personal letters were burnt to honor her last will. We have extracted some of Willa Cather’s profound quotes from her writings and her life. Here is a collection of Willa Cather quotes and sayings about love, writing, happiness, ambition, art etc.
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There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.

There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.

Willa Cather
The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own.

The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own.

Willa Cather
The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing — desire.

The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing — desire.

Willa Cather
Where there is great love, there are always miracles.

Where there is great love, there are always miracles.

Willa Cather
Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.

Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.

Willa Cather
Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.

Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.

Willa Cather
It's all very well to tell us to forgive our enemies; our enemies can never hurt us very much. But oh, what about forgiving our friends?

It's all very well to tell us to forgive our enemies; our enemies can never hurt us very much. But oh, what about forgiving our friends?

Willa Cather
People live through such pain only once. Pain comes again—but it finds a tougher surface.

People live through such pain only once. Pain comes again—but it finds a tougher surface.

Willa Cather
That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

Willa Cather
The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor.

The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor.

Willa Cather
Now I understood that the same road was to bring us together again. Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.

Now I understood that the same road was to bring us together again. Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.

Willa Cather
Let your fiction grow out of the land beneath your feet.

Let your fiction grow out of the land beneath your feet.

Willa Cather
Men travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things.

Men travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things.

Willa Cather
The old man smiled. 'I shall not die of a cold, my son. I shall die of having lived.

The old man smiled. 'I shall not die of a cold, my son. I shall die of having lived.

Willa Cather
Some memories are realities and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.

Some memories are realities and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.

Willa Cather
What was any art but a mold to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself- life hurrying past us and running away, to strong to stop, too sweet to lose.

What was any art but a mold to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself- life hurrying past us and running away, to strong to stop, too sweet to lose.

Willa Cather
Success is never so interesting as struggle

Success is never so interesting as struggle

Willa Cather
The soul cannot be humbled by fasts and prayer; it must be broken by mortal sin to experience forgiveness of sin and rise to a state of grace. Otherwise, religion is nothing but dead logic.

The soul cannot be humbled by fasts and prayer; it must be broken by mortal sin to experience forgiveness of sin and rise to a state of grace. Otherwise, religion is nothing but dead logic.

Willa Cather
People can be lovers and enemies at the same time, you know.

People can be lovers and enemies at the same time, you know.

Willa Cather
There was nothing but land; not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.

There was nothing but land; not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.

Willa Cather
That is happiness, to be dissolved into something complete and great.

That is happiness, to be dissolved into something complete and great.

Willa Cather
Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.

Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.

Willa Cather
She had certain thoughts which were like companions, ideas which were like older and wiser friends.

She had certain thoughts which were like companions, ideas which were like older and wiser friends.

Willa Cather
I wondered if the life that was right for one was ever right for two!

I wondered if the life that was right for one was ever right for two!

Willa Cather
No one can build his security upon the nobleness of another person.

No one can build his security upon the nobleness of another person.

Willa Cather
Only a Woman, divine, could know all that a woman can suffer.

Only a Woman, divine, could know all that a woman can suffer.

Willa Cather
There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.

There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.

Willa Cather
‎The idea of you is a part of my mind; you influence my likes and dislikes, all my tastes, hundereds of times when I dont realize it. You really are a part of me.

‎The idea of you is a part of my mind; you influence my likes and dislikes, all my tastes, hundereds of times when I dont realize it. You really are a part of me.

Willa Cather
Paris is a hard place to leave, even when it rains incessantly and one coughs continually from the dampness.

Paris is a hard place to leave, even when it rains incessantly and one coughs continually from the dampness.

Willa Cather
Only solitary men know the full joys of friendship. Others have their family; but to a solitary and an exile his friends are everything.

Only solitary men know the full joys of friendship. Others have their family; but to a solitary and an exile his friends are everything.

Willa Cather
If there were no girls like them in the world, there would be no poetry

If there were no girls like them in the world, there would be no poetry

Willa Cather
One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere, and hold fast to the days...

One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere, and hold fast to the days...

Willa Cather
Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.

Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.

Willa Cather
To fulfil the dreams of one's youth; that is the best that can happen to a man. No worldly success can take the place of that.

To fulfil the dreams of one's youth; that is the best that can happen to a man. No worldly success can take the place of that.

Willa Cather
Freedom so often means that one isn't needed anywhere.

Freedom so often means that one isn't needed anywhere.

Willa Cather
Prayers said by good people are always good prayers

Prayers said by good people are always good prayers

Willa Cather
Ah! the terror and the delight of that moment when first we fear 
ourselves! Until then we have not lived.

Ah! the terror and the delight of that moment when first we fear ourselves! Until then we have not lived.

Willa Cather
The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young.

The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young.

Willa Cather
The more observing ones may have seen, but discerning people are usually discreet and often kind, for we usually bleed a little before we begin to discern.

The more observing ones may have seen, but discerning people are usually discreet and often kind, for we usually bleed a little before we begin to discern.

Willa Cather
There is often a good deal of the child left in people who have had to grow up too soon.

There is often a good deal of the child left in people who have had to grow up too soon.

Willa Cather
Love itself draws on a woman nearly all the bad luck in the world

Love itself draws on a woman nearly all the bad luck in the world

Willa Cather
Some things are best learned in calm, others in storm.

Some things are best learned in calm, others in storm.

Willa Cather
I prefer to be foolish when I feel like it, and be accountable to nobody.

I prefer to be foolish when I feel like it, and be accountable to nobody.

Willa Cather
I do not see you as you really are, Joseph; I see you through my affection for you.

I do not see you as you really are, Joseph; I see you through my affection for you.

Willa Cather
And that's what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own individual lives.

And that's what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own individual lives.

Willa Cather
There was a new kind of strength in the gravity of her face, and her colors still gave her that look of deep-seated health and ardor.

There was a new kind of strength in the gravity of her face, and her colors still gave her that look of deep-seated health and ardor.

Willa Cather
Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons.

Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons.

Willa Cather
The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.

The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.

Willa Cather
Pittsburgh was even more vital, more creative, more hungry for culture than New York. Pittsburgh was the birthplace of my writing.

Pittsburgh was even more vital, more creative, more hungry for culture than New York. Pittsburgh was the birthplace of my writing.

Willa Cather
It's awfully easy to rush into a profession you don't really like, and awfully hard to get out of it.

It's awfully easy to rush into a profession you don't really like, and awfully hard to get out of it.

Willa Cather
If we never arrived anywhere, it did not matter. Between that earth and that sky i felt erased, blotted out. I did not say my prayers that night: here, i felt what would be would be.

If we never arrived anywhere, it did not matter. Between that earth and that sky i felt erased, blotted out. I did not say my prayers that night: here, i felt what would be would be.

Willa Cather
Language was like clothes; it could be a help to one, or it could give one away. But the most important thing was that one should not pretend to be what one was not.

Language was like clothes; it could be a help to one, or it could give one away. But the most important thing was that one should not pretend to be what one was not.

Willa Cather
People have to snatch at happiness when they can, in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find.

People have to snatch at happiness when they can, in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find.

Willa Cather
Things away from home often look better than they are.

Things away from home often look better than they are.

Willa Cather
When people ask me if it has been a hard or easy road, I always answer with the same quotation, the end is nothing, the road is all.Willa Cather

When people ask me if it has been a hard or easy road, I always answer with the same quotation, the end is nothing, the road is all.Willa Cather

Willa Cather
Old people, who have felt blows and toil and known the world's hard hand, need, even more than children do, a woman's tenderness.

Old people, who have felt blows and toil and known the world's hard hand, need, even more than children do, a woman's tenderness.

Willa Cather
I only want impossible things,

I only want impossible things," she said roughly. "The others don't interest me.

Willa Cather
Life was so short that it meant nothing at all unless it were continually reinforced by something that endured; unless the shadows of individual existence came and went against a background that held together.

Life was so short that it meant nothing at all unless it were continually reinforced by something that endured; unless the shadows of individual existence came and went against a background that held together.

Willa Cather
The two friends stood for a few moments on the windy street corner, not speaking a word, as two travelers, who have lost their way, sometimes stand and admit their perplexity in silence. (O Pioneers!)

The two friends stood for a few moments on the windy street corner, not speaking a word, as two travelers, who have lost their way, sometimes stand and admit their perplexity in silence. (O Pioneers!)

Willa Cather
A man long accustomed to admire his wife in general, seldom pauses to admire her in a particular gown or attitude, unless his attention is directed to her by the appreciative gaze of another man.

A man long accustomed to admire his wife in general, seldom pauses to admire her in a particular gown or attitude, unless his attention is directed to her by the appreciative gaze of another man.

Willa Cather
Religion is different from everything else; because in religion seeking is finding.

Religion is different from everything else; because in religion seeking is finding.

Willa Cather
The land belongs to the future.

The land belongs to the future.

Willa Cather
A pioneer should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than the things themselves.

A pioneer should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than the things themselves.

Willa Cather
Oh, that's the beauty of the rose, that it blossoms and dies.

Oh, that's the beauty of the rose, that it blossoms and dies.

Willa Cather
I have sometimes thought that his bursts of imaginative talk were fatal to his poetic gift. He squandered too much in the heat of personal communication.

I have sometimes thought that his bursts of imaginative talk were fatal to his poetic gift. He squandered too much in the heat of personal communication.

Willa Cather
What was any art but an effort to make a sheath, a mold in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself.

What was any art but an effort to make a sheath, a mold in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself.

Willa Cather
It's by understanding me, and the boys, and mother, that you have helped me. I expect that is the only way one person ever really can help another.

It's by understanding me, and the boys, and mother, that you have helped me. I expect that is the only way one person ever really can help another.

Willa Cather
Our tree became the talking tree of the fairy tale; legends and stories nestled like birds in its branches.

Our tree became the talking tree of the fairy tale; legends and stories nestled like birds in its branches.

Willa Cather
The end is nothing, the road is all

The end is nothing, the road is all

Willa Cather
He knew he would always remember her, standing there with that expectant, forward-looking smile, enough to turn the future into summer.

He knew he would always remember her, standing there with that expectant, forward-looking smile, enough to turn the future into summer.

Willa Cather
I only knew the schoolbooks said he

I only knew the schoolbooks said he "died in the wilderness, of a broken heart." "More than him has done that," said Antonia sadly, and the girls murmured assent.

Willa Cather
I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away.

I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away.

Willa Cather
It was to him a very strange and perplexing place, where people wore fine clothes and had hard hearts.

It was to him a very strange and perplexing place, where people wore fine clothes and had hard hearts.

Willa Cather
Since then she had changed so much in her thoughts, in her ways, even in her looks, that she might wonder she knew herself--except that the changes were all in the direction of becoming more and more herself.

Since then she had changed so much in her thoughts, in her ways, even in her looks, that she might wonder she knew herself--except that the changes were all in the direction of becoming more and more herself.

Willa Cather
Nothing is far and nothing is near, if one desires. The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing—desire. And before it, when it is big, all is little.

Nothing is far and nothing is near, if one desires. The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing—desire. And before it, when it is big, all is little.

Willa Cather
But I can't help feeling scared when I think how I will miss you- more than you will ever know.

But I can't help feeling scared when I think how I will miss you- more than you will ever know.

Willa Cather
She began to wonder whether she would not do better to finish her life alone. What was left of life seemed unimportant.

She began to wonder whether she would not do better to finish her life alone. What was left of life seemed unimportant.

Willa Cather
Schools are not meant to make boys happy, Ccile, but to teach them to do without happiness.

Schools are not meant to make boys happy, Ccile, but to teach them to do without happiness.

Willa Cather
You must not begin to fret about the successes of cheap people. After all, what have they to do with you?

You must not begin to fret about the successes of cheap people. After all, what have they to do with you?

Willa Cather
I had killed a big snake. I was now a big fellow.

I had killed a big snake. I was now a big fellow.

Willa Cather
The glorious transmutation of autumn had come on: all the vast Canadian shores were clothed with a splendour never seen in France; to which all the pageants of all the kings were as a taper to the sun.

The glorious transmutation of autumn had come on: all the vast Canadian shores were clothed with a splendour never seen in France; to which all the pageants of all the kings were as a taper to the sun.

Willa Cather
One is best in one's own country.

One is best in one's own country.

Willa Cather
Doctrine is well enough for the wise, Jean; but the miracle is something we can hold in our hands and love.

Doctrine is well enough for the wise, Jean; but the miracle is something we can hold in our hands and love.

Willa Cather
He was entirely rid of his nervous misgivings, of his forced aggressiveness, of the imperative desire to show himself different from his surroundings. He felt now that his surroundings explained him.

He was entirely rid of his nervous misgivings, of his forced aggressiveness, of the imperative desire to show himself different from his surroundings. He felt now that his surroundings explained him.

Willa Cather
...how easy it would be to dream one's life out in some cleft in the world.

...how easy it would be to dream one's life out in some cleft in the world.

Willa Cather
Her husband had archaic ideas about jewels; a man bought them for his wife in acknowledgement of things he could not gracefully utter.

Her husband had archaic ideas about jewels; a man bought them for his wife in acknowledgement of things he could not gracefully utter.

Willa Cather
The qualities of a second-rate writer can easily be defined, but the first-rate writer can only be experience. It is just the thing in him which escapes analysis that makes him first-rate.

The qualities of a second-rate writer can easily be defined, but the first-rate writer can only be experience. It is just the thing in him which escapes analysis that makes him first-rate.

Willa Cather
Oh, he’s an old friend from the West,” said Eden easily. “I won’t introduce you, because he doesn’t like people. He’s a recluse. Good-bye.

Oh, he’s an old friend from the West,” said Eden easily. “I won’t introduce you, because he doesn’t like people. He’s a recluse. Good-bye.

Willa Cather
The spark in his eye, which is one's very self, caught the spark in hers that was herself, and for a moment they looked into each other's natures.

The spark in his eye, which is one's very self, caught the spark in hers that was herself, and for a moment they looked into each other's natures.

Willa Cather
We agreed that no one who had not grown up in a little prairie town could know anything about it. It was a kind of freemasonry, we said.

We agreed that no one who had not grown up in a little prairie town could know anything about it. It was a kind of freemasonry, we said.

Willa Cather
Her secret? It is every artist's secret--passion. That is all. It is an open secret, and perfectly safe. Like heroism, it is inimitable in cheap materials.

Her secret? It is every artist's secret--passion. That is all. It is an open secret, and perfectly safe. Like heroism, it is inimitable in cheap materials.

Willa Cather
It was no wonder that her sons stood tall and straight. She was a rich mine of life, like the foundation of early races.

It was no wonder that her sons stood tall and straight. She was a rich mine of life, like the foundation of early races.

Willa Cather
And I advise ye to think well, he told her It's better to be a stray dog in this world than a man without money. I've tried it both ways, and I know. A poor man stinks, and God hates him.

And I advise ye to think well, he told her It's better to be a stray dog in this world than a man without money. I've tried it both ways, and I know. A poor man stinks, and God hates him.

Willa Cather
You never really knew a man, he said, until you saw him die

You never really knew a man, he said, until you saw him die

Willa Cather
There is no God but one God and Art is his revealer; that’s my creed and I'll follow it to the end, to a hotter place than Pittsburgh if need be.

There is no God but one God and Art is his revealer; that’s my creed and I'll follow it to the end, to a hotter place than Pittsburgh if need be.

Willa Cather
Avarice, he assured them, was the one passion that grew stronger and sweeter in old age.

Avarice, he assured them, was the one passion that grew stronger and sweeter in old age.

Willa Cather
It must have been the scarcity of detail in that tawny landscape that made detail so precious.

It must have been the scarcity of detail in that tawny landscape that made detail so precious.

Willa Cather
Don't love it so well, Clark, or it may be taken from you. Oh, dear boy, pray that whatever your sacrifice may be, it be not that.

Don't love it so well, Clark, or it may be taken from you. Oh, dear boy, pray that whatever your sacrifice may be, it be not that.

Willa Cather
Have the last word ma'm,

Have the last word ma'm," he said cheerfully, "It's a lady's priviledge.

Willa Cather
Miracles surround us at every turn, if we but sharpen our perceptions to them.

Miracles surround us at every turn, if we but sharpen our perceptions to them.

Willa Cather