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There is no defense against reproach but obscurity; it is a kind of concomitant to greatness, as satires and invectives were an essential part of a Roman triumph.
- Joseph Addison
Content thyself to be obscurely good.
When vice prevails and impious men bear away,
The post of honor is a private station.
- Joseph Addison, Cato (act IV, sc. 4)
I give the fight up; let there be an end,
A privacy, an obscure nook for me,
I want to be forgotten even by God.
- Robert Browning, Paracelsus (pt. V)
Like beauteous flowers which vainly waste their scent
Of odours in unhaunted deserts.
- Edward Chamberlayne, Pharonida
(pt. II, bk. IV)
Obscurity and Innocence, twin sisters, escape temptations which would pierce their gossamer armor, in contact with the world.
- Sebastien-Roch-Nicolas de Chamfort
As night the life-inclining stars best shows,
So lives obscure the starriest souls disclose.
- George Chapman,
Hymns and Epigrams of Homer--The Translator's Epilogue
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
- Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard
Yet still he fills affection's eye,
Obscurely wise, and coarsely kind.
- Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature"),
Verses on the On the Death of Mr. Robert Levet
Some write their wrongs in marble: he more just,
Stoop'd down serene and wrote them on the dust,
Trod under foot, the sport of every wind,
Swept from the earth and blotted from his mind,
There, secret in the grave, he bade them lie,
And grieved they could not 'scape the Almighty eye.
- Samuel Madden, Boulter's Monument
The palpable obscure.
- John Milton, Paradise Lost
(bk. II, l. 406)
Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
- Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I)
He who has lived obscurely and quietly has lived well.
[Lat., Bene qui latuit, bene vixit.]
- Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), Tristium
(III, 4, 25)
When something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren't grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence or an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
- Cynthia Ozick
How often the highest talent lurks in obscurity.
[Lat., Ut saepe summa ingenia in occulto latent!]
- Plautus (Titus Maccius Plautus), Captivi
(I, 2, 62)
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
- Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard (l. 207)
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
- Alexander Pope, Ode on Solitude
The obscurity of a writer is generally in proportion to his incapacity.
- Quintilian (Marcus Fabius Quintilianus)
The swallowing gulf of dark forgetfulness and deep oblivion.
- William Shakespeare
Lost in the dreary shades of dull obscurity.
- William Shenstone
Yet was he but a squire of low degree.
- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene
(bk. IV, canto VII, st. 15)
He shone with the greater splendor, because he was not seen.
[Lat., Eo magis praefulgebat quod non videbatur.]
- Tacitus (Caius Cornelius Tacitus), Annales
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love.
- William Wordsworth,
She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways