George Meredith

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O the truth, the truth! the many eyes
That look on it! the diverse things they see!

George Meredith (12 February 182818 May 1909) was an English novelist and poet.


More brain, O Lord, more brain! or we shall mar
Utterly this fair garden we might win.
  • First of earthly singers, the sun-loved rill.
    • Phoebus with Admetus st. 3
  • See ye not, Courtesy
    Is the true Alchemy,
    Turning to gold all it touches and tries?
  • I've studied men from my topsy-turvy
    Close, and I reckon, rather true.
    Some are fine fellows: some, right scurvy;
    Most, a dash between the two.
  • It's past parsons to console us:
    No, nor no doctor fetch for me:
    I can die without my bolus;
    Two of a trade, lass, never agree!
    Parson and Doctor!--don't they love rarely
    Fighting the devil in other men's fields!
    Stand up yourself and match him fairly:
    Then see how the rascal yields!
    • Juggling Jerry, st. 9 (1859)
  • Earth, the mother of all,
    Moves on her stedfast way,
    Gathering, flinging, sowing.
    Mortals, we live in her day,
    She in her children is growing.
    • Ode to the Spirit of Earth in Autumn, st. 14
  • For singing till his heaven fills,
    'Tis love of earth that he instils,
    And ever winging up and up,
    Our valley is his golden cup,
    And he the wine which overflows
    To lift us with him as he goes.
  • The song seraphically free
    Of taint of personality,
    So pure that it salutes the suns
    The voice of one for millions,
    In whom the millions rejoice
    For giving their one spirit voice.
    • The Lark Ascending, l. 95-100
  • On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
    Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend.
  • Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
    The army of unalterable law.
    • Lucifer in Starlight, l. 13-14
  • Enter these enchanted woods,
    You who dare.
    Nothing harms beneath the leaves
    More than waves a swimmer cleaves.
    Toss your heart up with the lark,
    Foot at peace with mouse and worm,
    Fair you fare.
    Only at a dread of dark
    Quaver, and they quit their form:
    Thousand eyeballs under hoods
    Have you by the hair.
    Enter these enchanted woods,
    You who dare.
  • She whom I love is hard to catch and conquer,
    Hard, but O the glory of the winning were she won!
  • Darker grows the valley, more and more forgetting:
    So were it with me if forgetting could be willed.
    Tell the grassy hollow that holds the bubbling well-spring,
    Tell it to forget the source that keeps it filled.
    • Love in the Valley, st. 5
  • With patient inattention hear him prate.
    • Bellerophon, st. 4 (1887)
  • Full lasting is the song, though he,
    The singer, passes
    • The Thrush in February, st. 17 (1888)
  • Behold the life at ease; it drifts,
    The sharpened life commands its course.
    • Hard Weather, l. 71 (1888)
  • All wisdom's armoury this man could wield
    • The Sage Enamoured (1892)
  • Cannon his name,
    Cannon his voice, he came.
    • Napoléon, I (1898)
  • I expect that Woman will be the last thing civilized by Man.
    • Ch. 1
  • Who rises from prayer a better man, his prayer is answered.
  • Perfect simplicity is unconsciously audacious.
    • Ch. 15
  • The sun is coming down to earth, and the fields and the waters shout to him golden shouts.
    • Ch. 19
  • Kissing don't last; cookery do!
    • Ch. 28
  • God's rarest blessing is, after all, a good woman!
    • Ch. 33
  • Speech is the small change of Silence.
    • Ch. 34

Modern Love (1862)

  • Not till the fire is dying in the grate,
    Look we for any kinship with the stars.
    Oh, wisdom never comes when it is gold,
    And the great price we pay for it full worth:
    We have it only when we are half earth.
    • St. 4
  • And if I drink oblivion of a day,
    So shorten I the stature of my soul.
    • St. 12
  • The actors are, it seems, the usual three:
    Husband and wife and lover.
    • St. 25
  • What are we first? First, animals; and next
    Intelligences at a leap; on whom
    Pale lies the distant shadow of the tomb,
    And all that draweth on the tomb for text.
    Into which state comes Love, the crowning sun:
    Beneath whose light the shadow loses form.
    We are the lords of life, and life is warm.
    Intelligence and instinct now are one.
    But nature says: 'My children most they seem
    When they least know me: therefore I decree
    That they shall suffer.' Swift doth young Love flee,
    And we stand wakened, shivering from our dream.
    Then if we study Nature we are wise.
    • St. 30
  • How many a thing which we cast to the ground,
    When others pick it up, becomes a gem!
    • St. 41
      • Compare: "Once in a golden hour / I cast to earth a seed. Up there came a flower, The people said, a weed", Alfred Tennyson, The Flower.
  • In tragic life, God wot,
    No villain need be! Passions spin the plot:
    We are betrayed by what is false within.
    • St. 43
  • More brain, O Lord, more brain! or we shall mar
    Utterly this fair garden we might win.
    • St. 48
  • Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
    When hot for certainties in this our life! -
    In tragic hints here see what evermore
    Moves dark as yonder midnight ocean's force,
    Thundering like ramping hosts of warrior horse,
    To throw that faint thin fine upon the shore!
    • St. 50
  • Comedy is a game played to throw reflections upon social life, and it deals with human nature in the drawing-room of civilized men and women, where we have no dust of the struggling outer world, no mire, no violent crashes, to make the correctness of the representation convincing.
    • Prelude
  • She [Comedy] it is who proposes the correcting of pretentiousness, of inflation, of dulness, and of the vestiges of rawness and grossness to be found among us. She is the ultimate civilizer, the polisher, a sweet cook.
    • Prelude
  • Cynicism is intellectual dandyism.
    • Ch. 7
  • In...the book of Egoism, it is written, possession without obligation to the object possessed approaches felicity.
    • Ch. 14
  • A witty woman is a treasure; a witty beauty is a power.
  • What a woman thinks of women is the test of her nature.
    • Ch. 1
  • The well of true wit is truth itself.
    • Ch. 1
  • Ireland gives England her soldiers, her generals too.
    • Ch. 2
  • "How divine is utterance!" she said. "As we to the brutes, poets are to us."
    • Ch. 16
  • There is nothing the body suffers that the soul may not profit by.
    • Ch. 18

Quotes about George Meredith

  • ... Other writers may draw more recognisable scenes; Meredith contrives to place us in company which, in spite of seeming at times like a mad dream, never allows us to question that something living and genuine is going forward.
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