Andrew Lang

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Andrew Lang in 1888

Andrew Lang (March 31 1844July 20 1912) was a Scottish poet, novelist, and literary critic, and contributor to anthropology. He now is best known as the collector of folk and fairy tales, including the works of Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen.


  • They hear like ocean on a western beach
    The surge and thunder of the Odyssey.
    • Sonnet The Odyssey (1879), in Introduction to his translation (with S. H. Butcher) of Homer's Odyssey.
  • If indeed there be a god in heaven.
    • Andrew Lang (1879), with S. H. Butcher, prose translation of Homer's Odyssey, Book XVII, line 484.
  • Among the various forms of science which are reaching and affecting the new popular tradition, we have reckoned Anthropology. Pleasantly enough, Anthropology has herself but recently emerged from that limbo of the unrecognised in which Psychical Research is pining.
    • Andrew Lang (1900) "[ Anthropology and Religion]", In: The Making of Religion, (Chapter II), Longmans, Green, and C°, London, New York and Bombay, 1900, pp. 39–64.
  • Politicians use statistics in the same way that a drunk uses lamp-posts—for support rather than illumination.
    • 1910 Speech, quoted in Alan L. Mackay The Harvest of a Quiet Eye (1977), as reported in Chambers Dictionary of Quotations (2005), p. 488.
    • Variant: He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts—for support rather than illumination.
    • Widely attributed to Lang (e.g. in Elizabeth M. Knowles, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Oxford University Press; and in Robert Andrews, The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, Columbia University Press).

Ballades in Blue China (1880)


Source: Ballades in Blue China (1880), reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

  • There’s a joy without canker or cark,
    There’s a pleasure eternally new,
    ’T is to gloat on the glaze and the mark
    Of china that’s ancient and blue.
  • Here’s a pot with a cot in a park
    In a park where the peach-blossoms blew,
    Where the lovers eloped in the dark,
    Lived, died and were changed into two
    Bright birds that eternally flew
    Through the boughs of the may, as they sang;
    ’T is a tale was undoubtedly true
    In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.

Ballade of Autumn


Source: Ballade of Autumn, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

  • The windy lights of Autumn flare;
    I watch the moonlit sails go by;
    I marvel how men toil and fare,
    The weary business that they play!
    Their voyaging is vanity,
    And fairy gold is all their gain,
    And all the winds of winter cry,
    “My Love returns no more again.”

Quotes about Lang

  • Andrew Lang's marvelous Tales of Troy and Greece...fired my imagination as a child, in an unforgettable way.
    • Peter Green, Preface to The Iliad: A New Translation (2015)
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