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"Leave Nothing but Footprints, Take Nothing but Pictures, Kill Nothing but Time."



Cave Quotes

This section is dedicated to those writers, editors and reporters who are writing or editing caving-related articles and publications. We are making this information available in the hope that you'll use these quotations from literature, as well as the safety and conservation information located elsewhere at this site, in your next project. Please cite this web site if you do so. The correct address to reference is:

Most of these quotes come from a variety of literary sources, including the online directory of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree,
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan

In misery's darkest cavern known,
His useful care was ever nigh
Where hopeless anguish pour'd his groan,
And lonely want retir'd to die.
-- Samuel Johnson, Verses on the Death of Mr. Robert Levet, Stanza 5

"What slender youth...courts thee on roses in some pleasant cave?"
-- Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 23 BC

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
-- Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, Stanza 14

Friends depart, and memory takes them
To her caverns, pure and deep.
-- Thomas Haynes Bayly, Teach me to forget

I fled, and cry'd out, DEATH!
Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd
From all her caves, and back resounded, DEATH!
-- John Milton, Paradise Lost,Book ii, Line 787

Epimenides was sent by his father into the field to look for a sheep, turned out of the road at mid-day and lay down in a certain cave and fell asleep, and slept there fifty-seven years; and after that, when awake, he went on looking for the sheep, thinking that he had been taking a short nap.
-- Diogenes Laertius, Epimenides,ii, from "The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers," Translated by C. D. Yonge, B. A., with occasional corrections, Bohn's Classical Library

[Lengthy] "Do you think those halls are fair, where your King dwells under the hill in Mirkwood, and Dwarves helped in their making long ago? They are but hovels compared with the caverns I have seen here: immeasurable halls, filled with an everlasting music of water that tinkles into pools, as fair as Kheled-Zaram in the starlight.

"And, Legolas, when the torches are kindled and men walk on the sandy floors under the echoing domes, ah! then, Legolas, gems and crystals and veins of precious ore glint in the polished walls; and the light glows through folded marbles, shell-like, translucent as the living hands of Queen Galadriel. There are columns of white and saffron and dawn-rose, Legolas, fluted and twisted into dreamlike forms; they spring up from many-coloured floors to meet the glistening pendants of the roof: wings, ropes, curtains fine as frozen clouds; spears, banners, pinnacles of suspended palaces! Still lakes mirror them: a glimmering world looks up from dark pools covered with clear glass; cities, such as the mind of Durin could scarce have imagined in his sleep, stretch on through avenues and pillared courts, on into the dark recesses where no light can come. And plink! a silver drop falls, and the round wrinkles in the glass make all the towers bend and waver like weeds and corals in a grotto of the sea. Then evening comes: they fade and twinkle out; the torches pass on into another chamber and another dream. There is chamber after chamber, Legolas; hall opening out of hall, dome after dome, stair beyond stair; and still the winding paths lead on into the mountains' heart. Caves! The Caverns of Helm's Deep! Happy was the chance that drove me there! It makes me weep to leave them."
-- Gimli the Dwarf from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 2nd ed., pp.152-153, ISBN# 0-395-27222-X