26+ quotes from Watership Down by Richard Adams

Quotes from Watership Down

Richard Adams ·  478 pages

Rating: (322.7K votes)


“Animals don't behave like men,' he said. 'If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don't sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures' lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it's not that simple.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“He fought because he actually felt safer fighting than running.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“My Chief Rabbit has told me to stay and defend this run, and until he says otherwise, I shall stay here. --Bigwig”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“The full moon, well risen in a cloudless eastern sky, covered the high solitude with its light. We are not conscious of daylight as that which displaces darkness. Daylight, even when the sun is clear of clouds, seems to us simply the natural condition of the earth and air. When we think of the downs, we think of the downs in daylight, as with think of a rabbit with its fur on. Stubbs may have envisaged the skeleton inside the horse, but most of us do not: and we do not usually envisage the downs without daylight, even though the light is not a part of the down itself as the hide is part of the horse itself. We take daylight for granted. But moonlight is another matter. It is inconstant. The full moon wanes and returns again. Clouds may obscure it to an extent to which they cannot obscure daylight. Water is necessary to us, but a waterfall is not. Where it is to be found it is something extra, a beautiful ornament. We need daylight and to that extent it us utilitarian, but moonlight we do not need. When it comes, it serves no necessity. It transforms. It falls upon the banks and the grass, separating one long blade from another; turning a drift of brown, frosted leaves from a single heap to innumerable flashing fragments; or glimmering lengthways along wet twigs as though light itself were ductile. Its long beams pour, white and sharp, between the trunks of trees, their clarity fading as they recede into the powdery, misty distance of beech woods at night. In moonlight, two acres of coarse bent grass, undulant and ankle deep, tumbled and rough as a horse's mane, appear like a bay of waves, all shadowy troughs and hollows. The growth is so thick and matted that event the wind does not move it, but it is the moonlight that seems to confer stillness upon it. We do not take moonlight for granted. It is like snow, or like the dew on a July morning. It does not reveal but changes what it covers. And its low intensity---so much lower than that of daylight---makes us conscious that it is something added to the down, to give it, for only a little time, a singular and marvelous quality that we should admire while we can, for soon it will be gone again.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“There's terrible evil in the world."

It comes from men," said Holly. "All other elil do what they have to do and Frith moves them as he moves us. They live on the earth and they need food. Men will never rest till they've spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“A thing can be true and still be desperate folly, Hazel.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvelous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Lots of little Bigwigs, Hazel! Think of that, and tremble!”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“We all have to meet our match sometime or other.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“The rabbits mingled naturally. They did not talk for talking's sake, in the artificial manner that human beings - and sometimes even their dogs and cats - do. But this did not mean that they were not communicating; merely that they were not communicating by talking.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Black Rabbit: Hazel... Hazel... you know me, don't you?
Hazel: I don't know.
[the apparition reveals himself to be the Black Rabbit, and Hazel gasps]
Hazel: Yes, my lord. I know you.
Black Rabbit: I've come to ask if you'd like to join my Owsla. We shall be glad to have you, and I know you'd like it. You've been feeling tired, haven't you? If you're ready, we might go along now.
[Hazel looks at all the younger rabbits of Watership Down]
Black Rabbit: You needn't worry about them. They'll be all right, and thousands like them. If you come along now, I'll show you what I mean.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Rabbit underground, rabbit safe and sound.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“At that moment, in the sunset on Watership Down, there was offered to General Woundwort the opportunity to show whether he was really the leader of vision and genius which he believed himself to be, or whether he was no more than a tyrant with the courage and cunning of a pirate. For one beat of his pulse the lame rabbit's idea shone clearly before him. He grasped it and realized what it meant. The next, he had pushed it away from him.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Men will never rest till they've spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Rabbits live close to death and when death comes closer than usual, thinking about survival leaves little room for anything else.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“They want to be natural, the anti-social little beasts. They just don't realize that everyone's good depends on everyone's cooperation.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“That wasn't why they destroyed the warren. It was just because we were in their way. They killed us to suit themselves.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Human beings say, "It never rains but it pours." This is not very apt, for it frequently does rain without pouring. The rabbits' proverb is better expressed. They say, "One cloud feels lonely": and indeed it is true that the sky will soon be overcast.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“I am sorry for you with all my heart. But you cannot blame us, for you came to kill us if you could.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“When Marco Polo came at last to Cathay, seven hundred years ago, did he not feel--and did his heart not falter as he realized--that this great and splendid capital of an empire had had its being all the years of his life and far longer, and that he had been ignorant of it? That it was in need of nothing from him, from Venice, from Europe? That it was full of wonders beyond his understanding? That his arrival was a matter of no importance whatever? We know that he felt these things, and so has many a traveler in foreign parts who did not know what he was going to find. There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvelous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Before such people can act together, a kind of telepathic feeling has to flow through them and ripen to the point when they all know that they are ready to begin. Anyone who has seen the martins and swallows in September, assembling on the telephone wires, twittering, making short flights singly and in groups over the open, stubbly fields, returning to form longer and even longer lines above the yellowing verges of the lanes-the hundreds of individual birds merging and blending, in a mounting excitement, into swarms, and these swarms coming loosely and untidily together to create a great, unorganized flock, thick at the centre and ragged at the edges, which breaks and re-forms continually like clouds or waves-until that moment when the greater part (but not all) of them know that the time has come: they are off, and have begun once more that great southward flight which many will not survive; anyone seeing this has seen at the work the current that flows (among creatures who think of themselves primarily as part of a group and only secondarily, if at all, as individuals) to fuse them together and impel them into action without conscious thought or will: has seen at work the angel which drove the First Crusade into Antioch and drives the lemmings into the sea.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


“Rabbits (says Mr. Lockley) are like human beings in many ways. One of these is certainly their staunch ability to withstand disaster and to let the stream of their life carry them along, past reaches of terror and loss. They have a certain quality which it would not be accurate to describe as callousness or indifference. It is, rather, a blessedly circumscribed imagination and an intuitive feeling that Life is Now. A foraging wild creature, intent above all upon survival, is as strong as the grass.”
― Richard Adams, quote from Watership Down


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About the author

Richard Adams
Born place: in Newbury, Berkshire, England, The United Kingdom
Born date May 9, 1920
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