Birth was the death of him.
—Samuel Beckett (1906–1989) Irish Novelist, Playwright
I came to the place of my birth and cried, “The friends of my youth, where are they?” And echo answered, “Where are they?”
There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.
—John F. Kennedy (1917–63) American Head of State, Journalist
We are celebrating the feast of the Eternal Birth which God the Father has borne and never ceases to bear in all eternity…. But if it takes not place in me, what avails it? Everything lies in this, that it should take place in me.
—Meister Eckhart (c.1260–1327) German Christian Mystic
Willful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement. No man, no woman, can shirk the primary duties of life, whether for love of ease and pleasure, or for any other cause, and retain his or her self-respect.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) American Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Explorer
My mother groaned, my father wept, into the dangerous world I leapt; helpless, naked, piping loud, like a fiend hid in a cloud.
—William Blake (1757–1827) English Poet, Painter, Printmaker
Telegram to a friend who had just become a mother after a prolonged pregnancy: Good work, Mary. We all knew you had it in you
—Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) American Humorist, Journalist
I should consent to breed under pressure, if I were convinced in any way of the reasonableness of reproducing the species. But my nerves and the nerves of any woman I could live with three months, would produce only a victim… lacking in impulse, a mere bundle of discriminations. If I were wealthy I might subsidize a stud of young peasants, or a tribal group in Tahiti.
—Ezra Pound (1885-1972) American Poet, Translator, Critic
Behold, I was shapened in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
—The Holy Bible Scripture in the Christian Faith
What is birth to a man if it be a stain to his dead ancestors to have left such an offspring?
—Philip Sidney (1554–86) English Soldier Poet, Courtier
I positively think that ladies who are always enceinte quite disgusting; it is more like a rabbit or guinea-pig than anything else and really it is not very nice.
—Queen Victoria (1819–1901) British Royal
When real nobleness accompanies the imaginary one of birth, the imaginary mixes with the real and becomes real too.
—George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816) British Nobleman, Politician
If men were equally at risk from this condition—if they knew their bellies might swell as if they were suffering from end-stage cirrhosis, that they would have to go nearly a year without a stiff drink, a cigarette, or even an aspirin, that they would be subject to fainting spells and unable to fight their way onto commuter trains—then I am sure that pregnancy would be classified as a sexually transmitted disease and abortions would be no more controversial than emergency appendectomies.
—Barbara Ehrenreich (1941–2022) American Social Critic, Essayist
If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.
—Florynce Kennedy (1916–2000) American Lawyer, Civil Rights Leader, Feminist, Activist
A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake.
—Georges Gurdjieff (1877–1949) Armenian Spiritual Leader, Occultist
These wretched babies don’t come until they are ready.
—Queen Elizabeth II (1926–2022) Queen of United Kingdom
We have been God-like in our planned breeding of our domesticated plants and animals, but we have been rabbit-like in our unplanned breeding of ourselves.
—Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975) British Historian
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
—The Holy Bible Scripture in the Christian Faith
What is this talked-of mystery of birth but being mounted bareback on the earth?
—Robert Frost (1874–1963) American Poet
I have no conscience, none, but I would not like to bring a soul into this world. When it sinned and when it suffered something like a dead hand would fall on me,—“You did it, you, for your own pleasure you created this thing! See your work!” If it lived to be eighty it would always hang like a millstone round my neck, have the right to demand good from me, and curse me for its sorrow. A parent is only like to God: if his work turns out bad so much the worse for him; he dare not wash his hands of it. Time and years can never bring the day when you can say to your child, “Soul, what have I to do with you?”
—Olive Schreiner (1855–1920) South African Writer, Feminist
Compassion and shame come over one who considers how precarious is the origin of the proudest of living beings: often the smell of a lately extinguished lamp is enough to cause a miscarriage. And to think that from such a frail beginning a tyrant or butcher may be born! You who trust in your physical strength, who embrace the gifts of fortune and consider yourself not their ward but their son, you who have a domineering spirit, you who consider yourself a god as soon as success swells your breast, think how little could have destroyed you!
—Pliny the Elder (23–79CE) Roman Statesman, Scholar
Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery.
—Andy Warhol (1928–87) American Painter, Printmaker, Film Personality
I could be content that we might procreate like trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to perpetuate the world without this trivial and vulgar way of coition.
—Thomas Browne (1605–82) English Author, Physician
I have learned to judge of men by their own deeds, and not to make the accident of birth the standard of their merit.
—Sarah Josepha Hale (1788–1879) American Poet
Of all vanities and fopperies, the vanity of high birth is the greatest. True nobility is derived from virtue, not from birth. Titles, indeed, may be purchased; but virtue is the only coin that makes the bargain valid.
—Richard Burton (1925–84) Welsh Actor
Media mystifications should not obfuscate a simple, perceivable fact; Black teenage girls do not create poverty by having babies. Quite the contrary, they have babies at such a young age precisely because they are poor—because they do not have the opportunity to acquire an education, because meaningful, well-paying jobs and creative forms of recreation are not accessible to them… because safe, effective forms of contraception are not available to them.
—Angela Davis (b.1944) American Political Activist, Academic
He plough’d her, and she cropp’d.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
The act of birth is the first experience of anxiety, and thus the source and prototype of the affect of anxiety.
—Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) Austrian Psychiatrist, Psychoanalytic
Although it is generally known, I think it’s about time to announce that I was born at a very early age.
—Groucho Marx (1890–1977) American Actor, Comedian, Singer
Features alone do not run in the blood; vices and virtues, genius and folly, are transmitted through the same sure but unseen channel.
—William Hazlitt (1778–1830) English Essayist