John Davidson (poet)

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John Davidson

John Davidson (April 11, 1857March 23, 1909) was a Scottish journalist, playwright, fiction-writer and translator, but is best remembered as a poet.


  • Business – the world's work – is the sale of lies:
    Not goods, but trade-marks; and still more and more
    In every branch becomes the sale of money.
    • Smith (Glasgow: Wilson, 1888) p. 26.
  • One must become
    Fanatic – be a wedge – a thunder-bolt
    To smite a passage through the close-grained world.
    • Smith (Glasgow: Wilson, 1888) p. 33.
  • Mere by-blows are the world and we,
    And time within eternity
    A sheer anachronism.
    • "Queen Elizabeth's Day", from Fleet Street Eclogues (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., [1893] 1895) p. 198.
  • Farewell the hope that mocked, farewell despair
    That went before me still and made the pace.
    The earth is full of graves, and mine was there
    Before my life began; my resting-place.
    • "The Last Journey", from The Testament of John Davidson (London: Grant Richards, 1908) p. 146.
  • That minister of ministers,
    Imagination, gathers up
    The undiscovered Universe,
    Like jewels in a jasper cup.
    • There is a Dish to hold the Sea, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • My feet are heavy now but on I go,
    My head erect beneath the tragic years.
    • I felt the World a-spinning on its Nave, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Ballads and Songs (1894)[edit]

Quotations are cited from the 1st edition (Boston: Copeland & Day, 1894).
  • Unwilling friend, let not your spite abate;
    Help me with scorn, and strengthen me with hate.
    • "To My Enemy", p. 2.
  • Seraphs and saints with one great voice
    Welcomed that soul that knew not fear.
    Amazed to find it could rejoice,
    Hell raised a hoarse, half-human cheer.
    • "A Ballad of Hell", p. 85.
  • And the difficultest job a man can do,
    Is to come it brave and meek with thirty bob a week,
    And feel that that's the proper thing for you.

    It's a naked child against a hungry wolf;
    It's playing bowls upon a splitting wreck;
    It's walking on a string across a gulf
    With millstones fore-and-aft about your neck;
    But the thing is daily done by many and many a one.
    And we fall, face forward, fighting, on the deck.
    • "Thirty Bob a Week", p. 97.

External links[edit]

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