Poverty Quotes

We have collected and put the best poverty quotes about the meaning of life from around the world. Enjoy reading these insights and feel free to share this page on your social media to inspire others.

May these poverty quotes on many subjects inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just around the corner.

Poverty is a state in which an individual, group, or population lack essential elements of life within their societies. This usually has the connotation of a lack of basic survival items like food, clothing, shelter, and health care, or the financial means to obtain these, but can also mean having less tangible problems like social exclusion, dependency, and the ability to participate in society. Its exact meaning varies considerably with context and the social environments involved.

Walls Urban Reflection Dirty Abandoned Building poor


Poverty is not only the lack of money, for it can assume the form of a lack of knowledge, thought, and talent. In this respect, wealthy people who lack knowledge, thought, and talent can be considered poor. ― M. Fethullah Gulen

Helplessness is not only a lack of strength and power. Many strong and talented people are seen as helpless because nobody has ever thought to have recourse to them to benefit from them. ― M. Fethullah Gulen

I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing. – Neil Gaiman

You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace. – Frank McCourt

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. – Mahatma Gandhi

The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God. – Mother Teresa

Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere. – Kofi Annan

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime. – Aristotle

Poverty is the worst form of violence. – Mahatma Gandhi

Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit. – Eli Khamarov

What a weary time those years were — to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability. – Charles Bukowski

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without. – Immanuel Kant

There is no Them. There are only facets of Us. – John Green

When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist. – Dom Helder Camara

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime. – Aristotle

That same night, I wrote my first short story. It took me thirty minutes. It was a dark little tale about a man who found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls piled up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife’s slain body in his arms. – Khaled Hosseini

There’s no way that Michael Jackson or whoever Jackson should have a million thousand droople billion dollars and then there’s people starving. There’s no way! There’s no way that these people should own planes and there people don’t have houses. Apartments. Shacks. Drawers. Pants! I know you’re rich. I know you got 40 billion dollars, but can you just keep it to one house? You only need ONE house. And if you only got two kids, can you just keep it to two rooms? I mean why have 52 rooms and you know there’s somebody with no room?! It just don’t make sense to me. It don’t. – Tupac Shakur

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones. – John Steinbeck

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed. – Herman Melville

I had noticed that both in the very poor and very rich extremes of society the mad were often allowed to mingle freely. – Charles Bukowski

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. – Mother Teresa

There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher. – Victor Hugo

Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity. – Coco Chanel

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence. – Eugene Debs

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. – Charles Darwin

It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it. – Rick Bragg

An empty stomach is not a good political adviser. – Albert Einstein

A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things. – Herman Melville

Poverty Quotes

Mother Teresa

Hungry for love, He looks at you. Thirsty for kindness, He begs of you. Naked for loyalty, He hopes in you. Homeless for shelter in your heart, He asks of you. Will you be that one to Him? – Mother Teresa

Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor, — all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked, — who is good? not that men are ignorant, — what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men. – W. E. B. DuBois

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of. – Confucius

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics. – Plutarch

To me, a faith in Jesus Christ that is not aligned with the poor…it’s nothing. – Bono

To live with Jesus is to live with the poor. To live with the poor is to live with Jesus. – Jean Vanier

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. – Mother Teresa

The Bible insists that the best test of a nation’s righteousness is how it treats the poorest and most vulnerable in its midst. – Jim Wallis

Americans are blessed with great plenty; we are a generous people and we have a moral obligation to assist those who are suffering from poverty, disease, war and famine. – Adam Schiff

History is written by the rich, and so the poor get blamed for everything. – Jeffrey D. Sachs

Once poverty is gone, we’ll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations. They’ll wonder why poverty continued so long in human society – how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair. – Muhammad Yunus

History is written by the rich, and so the poor get blamed for everything. – Jeffrey Sachs

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics. – Plutarch

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. – Mother Teresa

Although it is very easy to marry a wife, it is very difficult to support her along with the children and the household. Accordingly, no one notices this faith of Jacob. Indeed, many hate fertility in a wife for the sole reason that the offspring must be supported and brought up. For this is what they commonly say: ‘Why should I marry a wife when I am a pauper and a beggar? I would rather bear the burden of poverty alone and not load myself with misery and want.’ But this blame is unjustly fastened on marriage and fruitfulness. Indeed, you are indicting your unbelief by distrusting God’s goodness, and you are bringing greater misery upon yourself by disparaging God’s blessing. For if you had trust in God’s grace and promises, you would undoubtedly be supported. But because you do not hope in the Lord, you will never prosper. – Martin Luther

The ever more sophisticated weapons piling up in the arsenals of the wealthiest and the mightiest can kill the illiterate, the ill, the poor and the hungry, but they cannot kill ignorance, illness, poverty or hunger. – Fidel Castro

True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the “rejects of life,” to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands–whether of individuals or entire peoples–need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world. – Paulo Freire

It takes nothing to stay in poverty, but everything to break free from it. – Idowu Koyenikan

The wealth of a soul is measured by how much it can feel… its poverty by how little.- Sherrilyn Kenyon

When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor. – Basil the Great

The United States spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq while the United Nations estimates that for less than half that amount we could provide clean water, adequate diets, sanitations services and basic education to every person on the planet. And we wonder why terrorists attack us. – John Perkins

People are wrong when they think that an unemployed man only worries about losing his wages; on the contrary, an illiterate man, with the work habit in his bones, needs work even more than he needs money. An educated man can put up with enforced idleness, which is one of the worst evils of poverty. But a man like Paddy, with no means of filling up time, is as miserable out of work as a dog on the chain. That is why it is such nonsense to pretend that those who have ‘come down in the world’ are to be pitied above all others. George Orwell

The man who really merits pity is the man who has been down from the start, and faces poverty with a blank, resourceless mind. – George Orwell

Fear of the mob is a superstitious fear. It is based on the idea that there is some mysterious, fundamental difference between rich and poor, as though they were two different races, like Negroes and white men. But in reality there is no such difference. The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit. Change places, and handy dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Everyone who has mixed on equal terms with the poor knows this quite well. But the trouble is that intelligent, cultivated people, the very people who might be expected to have liberal opinions, never do mix with the poor. For what do the majority of educated people know about poverty? – George Orwell

plongeur is a slave, and a wasted slave, doing stupid and largely unnecessary work. He is kept at work, ultimately, because of a vague feeling that he would be dangerous if he had leisure. And educated people, who should be on his side, acquiesce in the process, because they know nothing about him and consequently are afraid of him. – George Orwell

Poverty Quotes

Indian proverb

Quotes From Wikiquote

  • The destitute is the Messenger of God. Whoever denies him denies God and whoever gives him gives God.
    • Ali, Nahj al-Balagha, Hadith n. 304, at the Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project.
  • The international community . . . allows nearly 3 billion people—almost half of all humanity—to subsist on $2 or less a day in a world of unprecedented wealth.
    • Kofi Annan, “Can Globalization Really Solve Our Problems?” Awake! magazine, May 22, 2002.
  • One would have thought that it was even more necessary to limit population than property; and that the limit should be fixed by calculating the chances of mortality in the children, and of sterility in married persons. The neglect of this subject, which in existing states is so common, is a never-failing cause of poverty among the citizens; and poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.
    • Aristotle, Politics, Book II, Section VI (Translation by Benjamin Jowett).
  • Give then to the poor; I beg, I advise, I charge, I command you.
    • Augustine, Sermon 11:13 on the New Testament [1]
  • But let us realize what sort of rich people. Here comes heaven knows who across our path, wrapped in rags, and he has been jumping for joy and laughing on hearing it said that the rich man can’t enter the kingdom of heaven; and he’s been saying, “I, though, will enter; that’s what theses rags will earn me; those who treat s badly and insult us, those who bear down hard upon us won’t enter; no, that sort certainly won’t enter. But just a minute, Mr. Poor Man; consider whether you can, in fact, enter. What if you’re poor, and also happen to be greedy? What if you’re sunk in destitution, and at the same time on fire with avarice? So if that’s what you’re like, whoever you are that are poor, it’s not because you haven’t wanted to be rich, but because you haven’t been able to. So God doesn’t inspect your means, but he observes your will. So if that’s what you’re like, leading a bad life, of bad morals, a blasphemer, an adulterer, a drunkard, proud, cross yourself off the list of God’s poor; you won’t be among those of whom it is said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, since theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:3).
    • Augustine, Sermon 346A:6 (c. 399 A.D.) “On the Word of God as Leader of the Christians on Their Pilgrimage,” Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, III/10, Sermons, 341-400, New City Press, Edmund Hill O.P., trans., (1995), ISBN 1565480554 ISBN 9781565480285 , p. 74.[2]
  • In truth, poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.
    • Walter Bagehot, The Waverley Novels (1858).
  • Come away; poverty’s catching.
    • Aphra Behn (1640-1689), English dramatist, The Rover, Part 2. I. (1681).
  • In the affairs of this world, poverty alone is without envy.
    • Giovanni Boccaccio, Fourth Day, Introduction
  • There was a time when people of the rich nations of the world regarded poverty as a “natural condition” for those living in the poor nations of the world. … Today we have largely been stripped of this pseudo-innocence. We know that the poor are so poor because the rich are so rich, that the causes of poverty can be traced to deliberate decisions and deliberate economic and political policies designed to benefit the rich and powerful. We know that poverty and unemployment are not just accidents of history but deliberate, even indispensable, components of capitalism as an economic system.
    • Allan Boesak, Comfort and Protest (1987), p. 67
  • Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to children: they have not much idea of industrious, working, respectable poverty; they think of the word only as connected with ragged clothes, scanty food, fireless grates, rude manners and debasing vices: poverty for me was synonymous with degradation.
    • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847).
  • Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!. I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!”
    • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847).
  • S’il est vrai que l’on soit pauvre par toutes les choses que l’on désire, l’ambitieux et l’avare languissent dans une extrême pauvreté.
    • If it is true that one is poor on account of all the things one wants, the ambitious and the avaricious languish in extreme poverty.
    • Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères (1688), “Of The Gifts of Fortune,” #49
  • The fact is, people work hard and rely on Food Stamps—or SNAP Program—to be able to feed their families. When they work full-time they still live in poverty. That’s wrong in our nation. Students who are losing hope because of the difficulty of finding jobs in this tough economy. What we need to do, what is best for America, is to raise wages, create jobs, and then we will move forward. Hard-working people are trying their best, but those who hold on to capital are not sharing the wealth, and there is the problem.
    • Simone Campbell, interviewed by Al Sharpton, “Nun Responds To Hannity’s ‘Communist’ Comparison: ‘Name Calling Is About All That Exists On That Side’,” Media Matters for America video, 4:12, April 21, 2014.
  • Dr. Warton complied with this proposal, to which (as his circumstances were narrow) it must be-hoped that his poverty consented rather than his will.
    • Thomas Campbell, “Joseph Warton”, Specimens of the British poets (1819), p. 320.
  • There is a solitude in poverty, but a solitude which restores to each thing its value.
    • Albert Camus (1913-1960), “Between Yes and No,” World Review magazine, March 1950.
  • La pauvreté met le crime au rabais.
    • Poverty puts crime at a discount.
      • Nicolas Chamfort, Maximes et Pensées (published 1795); CCCXII.
  • The poor, by thinking unceasingly of money, reach the point of losing the spiritual advantages of non-possession, thereby sinking as low as the rich.
    • E. M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born (1973)
  • The God who appears to me is the comforter of the poor and their avenger in world history. This avenger of the poor is the God I love.
    • Hermann Cohen, The Concept of Religion in the System of Philosophy (1915), p. 81
  • There is not a poor person in the United States who was not made poor by his own shortcomings, or by the shortcomings of someone else. It is all wrong to be poor, anyhow.
    • Russell Conwell, Acres of Diamonds (1915)
  • How long will you a defend the unjust
    and show partiality to the wicked?
    Defend the weak and the fatherless;
    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
    Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

    • David, Psalm 82:2-4
Poverty Quotes


  • Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind then that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
    • Eugene V. Debs, Statement to the Federal Court, Cleveland, Ohio, upon being convicted of violating the Sedition Act (18 September 1918)
  • Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice.
    • Diogenes of Sinope Stobaeus, iv. 32a. 11.
  • Poverty is a virtue which one can teach oneself.
    • Diogenes of Sinope Stobaeus, iv. 32a. 19.
  • The noblest people are those despising wealth, learning, pleasure and life; esteeming above them poverty, ignorance, hardship and death.
    • Diogenes of Sinope, Stobaeus, iv. 29a. 19.
  • Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
    • Frederick Douglass, Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. (April 1886).
  • There have always been poor and working classes; and the working class have mostly been poor. But there have not always been workers and poor people living under conditions as they are today.
    • Friedrich Engels, Principles of Communism (1847)
  • Poverty is man’s greatest affliction.
  • The poor are styled ‘God’s own.’
    • Exodus Rabbah 31Tales and Maxims from the Midrash by Rev. Samuel Rapaport, (1907), p. 104
  • There’s no scandal like rags, nor any crime so shameful as poverty.
    • George Farquhar, The Beaux’ Stratagem, Act I, sc. i. (1707).
  • It is not true (what some people imagine) “that the common law of England made no provision for the poor”: the Mirror shews the contrary. How, indeed, it was done does not appear.
    • Foster, J., Rex v. Loxdale (1758), 1 Burr. Part IV. 450; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 198.
  • Holy poverty … is the foundation and guardian of all virtues. … The kingdom of heaven truly belongs to those who, of their own will, a spiritual intention, and a desire for eternal goods, possess nothing of this earth.
    • The Sacred Exchange between Saint Francis and Lady PovertyFrancis of Assisi: Early Documents, Volume 1, p. 529.
  • When he [Jesus] chose some of the indispensable witnesses to his holy preaching and to his glorious manner of living for the salvation of the human race, he surely did not choose rich merchants but poor fishermen, to show by such esteem that you [Poverty] were to be loved by all. Finally, to reveal to everyone your goodness, magnificence, dignity and strength, how you surpass all other virtues, how nothing can be a virtue without you.
    • The Sacred Exchange between Saint Francis and Lady PovertyFrancis of Assisi: Early Documents, Volume 1, pp. 535-536.
  • In the Bible poverty is a scandalous condition inimical to human dignity and therefore contrary to the will of God.
    • Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation (1971), p. 165.
  • The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.
    • Robert A. Hall, I’m Tired (February 19, 2009)
  • If the plaintiff could have gone away from the dangerous place without incurring the risk of losing his means of livelihood, the case might have been different; but he was obliged to be there; his poverty, not his will, consented to incur the danger.
    • Henry Hawkins, Thrussell v. Handyside, L.R. 20 Q.B.D. 359, 364 (1888).
  • Poverty is no sin.
    • George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651).
  • Who sees not, that whosoever ministers to the poor, ministers to God? as it appears in that solemn sentence of the last day, Inasmuch as you did feed, clothe, lodge the poor, you did it unto me.
    • Sir Henry Hobart, 1st Baronet, C.J., Pits v. James (1614), Lord Hobart’s Rep. 125; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 198.
  • People from all sectors of society, including business, government and community must all work together to reduce poverty at its source, by ensuring that all have access to fairly paid work, to decent public services, and to income support in times of need.
During the election, Prime Minister Harper ended some of his speeches with the words “God bless Canada.” Indeed, the prophet Isaiah says that God blesses you when you “share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house” (Isaiah 58.7). We urge the Prime Minister to spend tax dollars now in a way that will bring the homeless poor into their own house, and allow them the dignity of sharing their bread with others.

  • Andrew Hutchison, The Globe and Mail, March 29, 2006.
  • For the first time in our history it is possible to conquer poverty.
    • Lyndon B. Johnson, Special Message to Congress, 16 March 1964.
  • This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort.
    • Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union address, delivered to a joint session of Congress (January 8, 1964); in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963–64, book 1, p. 114.
  • All Crimes are safe, but hated Poverty.
    This, only this, the rigid Law persues.

    • Samuel Johnson, London: A Poem (1738), lines 159-160.
  • When two-thirds of the world’s population still go to bed hungry every night, when hundreds of millions need shoes and Warmth, medicines and nourishment to prevent them from dying years before their time, the dereliction of science to reducing the greater part of the earth’s surface to radio-active shambles is worse than a crime. It is a sin against the light.
    • James Avery Joyce, Peace News, Dec. 13, 1957.
  • Poverty is an abstraction, even for the poor. But the symptoms of collective impoverishment are all about us. Broken highways, bankrupt cities, collapsing bridges, failed schools, the unemployed, the underpaid and the uninsured: all suggest a collective failure of will. These shortcomings are so endemic that we no longer know how to talk about what is wrong, much less set about repairing it. And yet something is seriously amiss. Even as the US budgets tens of billions of dollars on a futile military campaign in Afghanistan, we fret nervously at the implications of any increase in public spending on social services or infrastructure.
    • Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land (2010), Ch. 1 : The Way We Live Now
  • Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se
    Quam quod ridiculos homines facit.

    • Poverty is bitter, but it has no harder pang than that it makes men ridiculous.
      • Juvenal, Satires, iii. 152.
  • Though in a state of society some must have greater luxuries and comforts than others, yet all should have the necessaries of life; and if the poor cannot exist, in vain may the rich look for happiness or prosperity. The legislature is never so well employed as when they look to the interests of those who are at a distance from them in the ranks of society. It is their duty to do so: religion calls for it; humanity calls for it; and if there are hearts who are not awake to either of those feelings, their own interests would dictate it.
    • Lord Kenyon, Rex v. Rusby (1800), Peake’s N. P. Cases 192; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 198-199.
  • The sacred stories have among other qualities also this remarkable characteristic, that in all their simplicity they nevertheless always get everything said that ought to be said. This is also the case with the Gospel about the rich man and the poor man. Neither Lazarus’s misery nor the rich man’s luxury is elaborated and described, yet one incident is added that is worth nothing. It is told that Lazarus, full of sores, was laid at the rich man’s door, but he dogs came and licked his sores. What is this supposed to portray in the rich man? Mercilessness, or, more exactly, inhuman mercilessness. In order to illustrate mercifulness, one can use a merciful person who is placed alongside. This is the way it is done in the story of the merciful Samaritan, who by contrast illuminates the Levite and the priest. But the rich man was inhuman, and therefore the Gospel makes use of the dogs. What a contrast! Now, we shall not exaggerate say that a dog can be merciful, but in contrast to the rich man it seems as if the dogs were merciful. What is shocking is that when the human being had abandoned mercifulness, the dogs had to be merciful. But there is something else in this comparison between the rich man and the dogs. The rich man had it abundantly enough in his power to do something for Lazarus, the dogs were able to do nothing, and yet it is as if the dogs were merciful.
    • Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love (1847), translated by Hong (1995), p. 323-324.
  • Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. … This day we are spending five hundred thousand dollars to kill every Vietcong soldier. Every time we kill one we spend about five hundred thousand dollars while we spend only fifty-three dollars a year for every person characterized as poverty-stricken in the so-called poverty program, which is not even a good skirmish against poverty.
    • Martin Luther King Jr. Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, National Cathedral, Washington, DC, 31 March 1968
  • Few save the poor feel for the poor,
    The rich know not how hard
    It is to be of needful food
    And needful rest debarred.

    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon Fisher’s Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1836 (1835) ‘The Widow’s Mite’. Re-used in Ethel Churchill (1837), Vol III Chapter 5
  • We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.
    • Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook (1962), p. 173.
  • It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God’s will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you—try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God’s will yourself!
    • Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation (1949), chapter 14, p. 107.
  • Real poverty comes only to those who indulge in food and drink. They have made themselves poor.
    • Namboku Mizuno, Food Governs Your Destiny, p. 42.
  • Poverty is never dishonourable in itself, but only when it is a mark of sloth, intemperance, extravagance, or thoughtlessness. When, on the other hand, it is the handmaid of a sober, industrious, righteous, and brave man, who devotes all his powers to the service of the people, it is the sign of a lofty spirit that harbours no mean thoughts
    • Plutarch, Comparison of Aristides and Cato.
  • Will you touch, will you mend me Christ?
    Won’t you touch, will you heal me Christ?
    Will you kiss, can you cure me Christ?
    Won’t you kiss, won’t you pay me Christ?
See my eyes, I can hardly see
See me stand, I can hardly walk
I believe you can make me whole
See my tongue, I can hardly talk.
See my skin, I’m a mass of blood
See my legs, I can hardly stand
I believe you can make me well
See my purse, I’m a poor, poor man.

  • Jesus Christ Superstar, lyrics by Tim Rice (1970).
  • Judas: Hey-hey-hey
    Woman your fine ointment – brand new and expensive
    Should have been saved for the poor
    Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe
    Three hundred silver pieces or more
    People who are hungry, people who are starving
    They matter more than your feet and hair
  • Jesus Christ Superstar, lyrics by Tim Rice (1970).
  • We are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the poor house in an automobile.
    • As quoted in How We Elect Our Presidents (1952), edited by Donald Day, p. 111
    • Variants: We’ll hold the distinction of being the only Nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poor house in an automobile.
      We hold the distinction of being the only nation in the history of the world that went to the poor-house in an automobile.
      We hold the distinction of being the only nation that is goin’ to the poorhouse in an automobile.
  • We are the first nation to starve to death in a storehouse that’s overfilled with everything we want.
    • Will Rogers, Daily Telegram #1355, The First Good News of the 1928 Campaign! Mr. Rogers Says He Will Not Run For Anything (26 November 1930)
  • Sure must be a great consolation to the poor people who lost their stock in the late crash to know that it has fallen in the hands of Mr. Rockefeller, who will take care of it and see it has a good home and never be allowed to wander around unprotected again. There is one rule that works in every calamity. Be it pestilence, war, or famine, the rich get richer and poor get poorer. The poor even help arrange it.
    • Will Rogers, Daily Telegram #1019, Thoughts Of Will Rogers On The Late Slumps In Stocks (31 October 1929)
  • “I had a chance to look into Paradise and I found that majority of the people was poor” (6597).
    • Sahih Muslim. Quoted from Ram Swarup, Understanding Islam through Hadis, 1983. [3]
  • It’s simply a national acknowledgement that in any kind of priority, the needs of human beings must come first. Poverty is here and now. Hunger is here and now. Racial tension is here and now. Pollution is here and now. These are the things that scream for a response. And if we don’t listen to that scream – and if we don’t respond to it – we may well wind up sitting amidst our own rubble, looking for the truck that hit us – or the bomb that pulverized us. Get the license number of whatever it was that destroyed the dream. And I think we will find that the vehicle was registered in our own name.
    • Rod Serling, Commencement Address at the University of Southern California; March 17, 1970
  • No, madam, ’tis not so well that I am poor, though many of the rich are damned.
    • William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well (1600s), Act I, scene 3, line 17.
  • I am as poor as Job, my lord, but not so patient.
    • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II (c. 1597-99), Act I, scene 2, line 144.
  • It is still her use
    To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
    To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
    An age of poverty.

    • William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (late 1590s), Act IV, scene 1, line 268.
  • Poor and content is rich and rich enough,
    But riches fineless is as poor as winter
    To him that ever fears he shall be poor.

    • William Shakespeare, Othello (c. 1603), Act III, scene 3, line 172.
  • Stepp’d me in poverty to the very lips.
    • William Shakespeare, Othello (c. 1603), Act IV, scene 2, line 50.
  • The world affords no law to make thee rich;
    Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.

    • My poverty, but not my will, consents.
      I pay thy poverty, and not thy will.
    • William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (1597), Act V, scene 1, line 73.
  • The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty.
    • Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara (1906), preface.
  • Poverty is no discrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.
    • Reverend Samuel F. Smith (1808-1895), American Baptist minister and author. His Wit and Wisdom
    • Reverend Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845), British clergyman, essayist and wit.
  • It is better to be poor and walk in integrity than to be stupid and speak lies.
    • Solomon, Proverbs 19:1
  • The rich is the one that rules over those of little means, and the borrower is servant to the man doing the lending.
    • Solomon, Proverbs 22:7
  • Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
    • Solomon, Proverbs 23:20-21, King James Version
  • Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
    • Solomon, Proverbs 31:4-7, New International Version
  • Whose plenty made him pore.
    • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book I, Canto IV, Stanza 29.
  • His rawbone cheekes, through penurie and pine,
    Were shronke into his jawes, as he did never dyne.

    • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book I, Canto IX, Stanza 35.
  • Wealth is far away, poverty is close at hand.
    • Sumerian proverb, Collection I at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, 3rd millennium BCE.
  • To be broke is not a disgrace, it is only a catastrophe.
    • Rex Stout, as stated by the character, Nero Wolfe in The League of Frightened Men (1935).
  • The world over, private financial markets fail when it comes to the very poor, … Mainstream banks do not seek out poor communities—because that’s not where the money is.
    • Lawrence Summers, former U.S. treasury secretary, Awake! magazine, 2002, 5/22; Can Globalization Really Solve Our Problems?
  • If a poor person envies a rich person, he is no better than the rich person.
    • Leo Tolstoy, Path of Life, M. Cote, trans. (2002), p. 89.
  • Counselor Deanna TroiPoverty was eliminated on Earth, a long time ago. And a lot of other things disappeared with it – hopelessness, despair, cruelty…
Samuel ClemensYoung lady, I come from a time when men achieve power and wealth by standing on the backs of the poor, where prejudice and intolerance are commonplace and power is an end unto itself. And you’re telling me that isn’t how it is anymore?
Counselor Deanna Troi: That’s right.
Samuel Clemens: Hmmm… Well… maybe… it’s worth giving up cigars for, after all.

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation Time’s Arrow, written by Joe Menosky (Part I) Michael Piller (Part I) and Jeri Taylor (Part II)
  • Paupertas sanitatis mater.
    • Poverty is the mother of health.
      • Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Historiale, Book X, Chapter LXXI. Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651).
  • As for the virtuous poor, one can pity them of course, but one cannot possibly admire them.
    • Oscar Wilde (1856-1900). ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’, originally published in the Fortnightly Review magazine, February 1891.
  • In the Bible, poverty is not in itself something to be applauded. It is in fact a wretched condition. Rich Christians romanticize it, misinterpreting the text “blessed are the poor in spirit,” as when they claim, “I wish I were poor. Their lives are so uncomplicated, more simple. The poor don’t have the worries of the rich.” Poverty is not an ideal state. On the contrary, it is regarded as an evil condition in the Bible, because the poor are victims of injustice and oppression. Poverty is seen not so much as an absence of possessions, but as a condition of powerlessness. So poverty is not an ideal but an evil.
    • The Rt. Revd. Colin Winter (1928-1981), The Breaking Process, London: SCM Press Ltd., 1981, p. 13. ISBN 0334001390.
  • To listen to someone is to put oneself in his place while he is speaking. To put oneself in the place of someone whose soul is corroded by affliction, or in near danger of it, is to annihilate oneself. It is more difficult than suicide would be for a happy child. Therefore the afflicted are not listened to. They are like someone whose tongue has been cut out and who occasionally forgets the fact. When they move their lips no ear perceives any sound. And they themselves soon sink into impotence in the use of language, because of the certainty of not being heard.That is why there is no hope for the vagrant as he stands before the magistrate. Even if, through his stammerings, he should utter a cry to pierce the soul, neither the magistrate nor the public will hear it. His cry is mute. And the afflicted are nearly always equally deaf to one another; and each of them, constrained by the general indifference, strives by means of self-delusion or forgetfulness to become deaf to his own self.
    • Simone Weil, Human Personality (1943), p. 71.
  • We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time. […] I believe putting resources into improving the lives of poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns.
    • Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus; quoted in Karl Ritter and Doug Mellgren (10 December 2006). “Nobel laureate: Poverty fight essential”. Associated Press (via Yahoo! News). Retrieved on 2006-12-10.
  • Never again should a people starve in a world of plenty.
    • Inscription at the base of a statue in Cambridge Commons.
  • For he will rescue the poor who cry for help,
Also the lowly one and whoever has no helper.
He will have pity on the lowly and the poor,
And the lives of the poor he will save.

  • David, Psalm 72:12-13.
  • Grind the faces of the poor.
    • Book of Isaiah 3:15.
  • The poor ye have always with you.
    • Jesus, Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8.
  • If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.
    • Book of Leviticus 25:35 (NIV)
  • So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
    • Book of Proverbs 6:11.
  • The destruction of the poor is their poverty.
    • Book of Proverbs 10:15.
  • Whoever mocks the poor reviles their Maker;
    whoever rejoices in their misfortune will not go unpunished.

    • Book of Proverbs 17:5
  • He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord.
    • Book of Proverbs 19:17.
  • Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will themselves call out and not be answered.
    • Book of Proverbs 21:13
  • Blessed is he that considereth the poor.
    • Book of Psalms 41:1.
  • Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.
    Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.

    • Solomon, Book of Proverbs 31:8-10 (CEB).
  • Paupertas omnium artium repertrix.
    • Poverty is the discoverer of all the arts.
    • Apollonius, De Magia, p. 285. 35.
  • Leave the poor
    Some time for self-improvement. Let them not
    Be forced to grind the bones out of their arms
    For bread, but have some space to think and feel
    Like moral and immortal creatures.

    • Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene A Country Town.
  • L’or même à la laideur donne un teint de beauté:
    Mais tout devient affreux avec la pauvreté.

    • Gold gives an appearance of beauty even to ugliness: but with poverty everything becomes frightful.
    • Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, Satires, VIII. 209.
  • Oh, the little more, and how much it is!
    And the little less, and what worlds away.

    • Robert Browning, By the Fireside, Stanza 39.
  • Needy knife-grinder! whither are ye going?
    Rough is the road, your wheel is out of order;
    Bleak blows the blast—your hat has got a hole in it.
    So have your breeches.

    • Canning, The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-Grinder.
  • Thank God for poverty
    That makes and keeps us free,
    And lets us go our unobtrusive way,
    Glad of the sun and rain,
    Upright, serene, humane,
    Contented with the fortune of a day.

    • Bliss Carman, The Word at Saint Kavin’s.
  • Paupertatis onus patienter ferre memento.
    • Patiently bear the burden of poverty.
    • Dionysius Cato, Disticha, Lib. I, 21.
  • He is now fast rising from affluence to poverty.
    • Mark Twain, Henry Ward Beecher’s Farm.
  • The beggarly last doit.
    • William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book V. The Winter Morning Walk, line 316.
  • And plenty makes us poor.
    • John Dryden, The Medal, line 126.
  • Content with poverty, my soul I arm;
    And virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm.

    • John Dryden, Third Book of Horace, Ode 29.
  • Living from hand to mouth.
    • Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, Divine Weekes and Workes, Second WeekFirst Day, Part IV.
  • The greatest man in history was the poorest.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Domestic Life.
  • Thou source of all my bliss and all my woe,
    That found’st me poor at first, and keep’st me so.

    • Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village (1770), line 413.
  • The nakedness of the indigent world may be clothed from the trimmings of the vain.
    • Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), Chapter IV.
  • Chill penury repress’d their noble rage,
    And froze the genial current of the soul.

    • Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, Stanza 13.
  • Yes, child of suffering, thou may’st well be sure
    He who ordained the Sabbath loves the poor!

    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Urania; or, A Rhymed Lesson, line 325.
  • O God! that bread should be so dear,
    And flesh and blood so cheap!

    • Thomas Hood, The Song of the Shirt.
  • Stitch! stitch! stitch!
    In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
    And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,
    Would that its tone could reach the Rich,
    She sang this “Song of the Shirt!”

    • Thomas Hood, Song of the Shirt, Stanza 11.
  • Magnas inter opes inops.
    • Penniless amid great plenty.
    • Horace, Carmina, Book III. 16. 28.
  • Pauper enim non est cui rerum suppetet usus.
    • He is not poor who has the use of necessary things.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 12. 4.
  • Ibit eo quo vis qui zonam perdidit.
    • The man who has lost his purse will go wherever you wish.
    • Horace, Epistles, II. 2. 40.
  • All this [wealth] excludes but one evil,—poverty.
    • Samuel Johnson, reported in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (1777).
  • Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se
    Quam quod ridiculos homines facit.

    • Cheerless poverty has no harder trial than this, that it makes men the subject of ridicule.
    • Juvenal, Satires, III. V. 152.
  • Haud facile emergunt quorum virtutibus obstat
    Res angusta domi.

    • They do not easily rise whose abilities are repressed by poverty at home.
    • Juvenal, Satires, III. 164.
  • Hic vivimus ambitiosa
    Paupertate omnes.

    • Here we all live in ambitious poverty.
    • Juvenal, Satires, III. 182.
  • O Poverty, thy thousand ills combined
    Sink not so deep into the generous mind,
    As the contempt and laughter of mankind.

    • Juvenal, Satires, III, line 226. Gifford’s translation.
  • Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.
    • The traveler without money will sing before the robber.
    • Juvenal, Satires, X. 22.
  • Paupertas fugitur, totoque arcessitur orbe.
    • Poverty is shunned and persecuted all over the globe.
    • Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Pharsalia, I. 166.
  • If you are poor now, Æmilianus, you will always be poor. Riches are now given to none but the rich.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book V, Epigram 8.
  • Non est paupertas, Nestor, habere nihil.
    • To have nothing is not poverty.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), XI. 32. 8.
  • La pauvreté des biens est aysee à guerir; la pauvreté de l’âme, impossible.
    • The lack of wealth is easily repaired; but the poverty of the soul is irreparable.
    • Michel de Montaigne, Essays, III. 10.
  • Rattle his bones over the stones!
    He’s only a pauper whom nobody owns!

    • Thomas Noel, The Pauper’s Drive.
  • Horrea formicæ tendunt ad inania nunquam
    Nullus ad amissas ibit amicus opes.

    • Ants do not bend their ways to empty barns, so no friend will visit the place of departed wealth.
    • Ovid, Tristium, I. 9. 9.
  • Inops, potentem dum vult imitari, perit.
    • The poor, trying to imitate the powerful, perish.
    • Phaedrus, Fables, I. 24. 1.
  • Paupertas … omnes artes perdocet.
    • Poverty is a thorough instructress in all the arts.
    • Plautus, Stichus, Act II. 1.
  • But to the world no bugbear is so great,
    As want of figure and a small estate.

    • Alexander Pope, First Book of Horace, Epistle I, line 67.
  • Where are those troops of poor, that throng’d of yore
    The good old landlord’s hospitable door?

    • Alexander Pope, Satires of Dr. Donne, Satire II, line 113.
  • Whene’er I walk the public ways,
    How many poor that lack ablution
    Do probe my heart with pensive gaze,
    And beg a trivial contribution.

    • Owen Seaman, Bitter Cry of the Great Unpaid.
  • Non qui parum habet, sed qui plus cupit, pauper est.
    • Not he who has little, but he who wishes for more, is poor.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, II.
  • Nemo tam pauper vivit quam natus est.
    • No one lives so poor as he is born.
    • Seneca the Younger, Quare bonis viris.
  • Poor people always lose in struggles.
    • Michael Servetus, a sentence from his first edition of Ptolemy’s Geography (1535)
  • The poor in Resurrection City have come to Washington to show that the poor in America are sick, dirty, disorganized, and powerless—and they are criticized daily for being sick, dirty, disorganized, and powerless.
    • Calvin Trillin, “U.S. Journal: Resurrection City”, The New Yorker (June 15, 1968), p. 71.
  • Whene’er I take my walks abroad,
    How many poor I see!

    • Isaac Watts, Praise for Mercies.
  • As no one can adventure nearer the throne of God by virtue of his rank, his wealth, or his talent, so no one is kept farther from that throne by his low condition, or by his poverty of wealth, of learning, or of intellect. The prince and the sage are not more welcome to heaven than the poor and ignorant.
    • Albert Barnes, p. 455.
  • Aspirations pure and high —
    Strength to do and to endure —
    Heir of all the Ages, I —
    Lo! I am no longer poor!

    • Julia Caroline Dorr, p. 455.
  • It is not poverty so much as pretense that harasses a ruined man.
    • Washington Irving, p. 455.
  • There is not such a mighty difference as some men imagine between the poor and the rich; in pomp, show, and opinion, there is a great deal, but little as to the pleasures and satisfactions of life. They enjoy the same earth and air and heavens; hunger and thirst make the poor man’s meat and drink as pleasant and relishing as all the varieties which cover the rich man’s table; and the labor of a poor man is more healthful, and many times more pleasant, too, than the ease and softness of the rich.
    • Thomas Sherlock, p. 454.
  • The world’s proverb is, “God help the poor, for the rich can help themselves;” but to our mind, it is just the rich who have most need of Heaven’s help. Dives in scarlet is worse off than Lazarus in rags, unless Divine love shall uphold him.
    • Charles Spurgeon, p. 454.
  • It was Lazarus faith, not his poverty, which brought him into Abraham’s bosom.
    • Richard Chenevix Trench, p. 455.

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