Henry Austin Dobson

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1911 portrait of Dobson by Frank Brooks

Austin Dobson (January 18, 1840September 2, 1921) was an English poet and essayist.


  • Old books, old wine, old Nankin blue;—
    All things, in short, to which belong
    The charm, the grace that Time makes strong,—
    All these I prize, but (entre nous)
    Old friends are best.
    • "To Richard Watson Gilder" (1884), line 8, in Carmina Votiva (London: Printed for private circulation, 1901), p. 68.
  • Fame is a food that dead men eat,—
    I have no stomach for such meat.
    • "Fame Is a Food That Dead Men Eat" (1906), line 1, in Collected Poems (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd, 1913), p. 569.

Vignettes in Rhyme and Vers de Societé (1873)


London: Henry S. King & Co., 1873

  • Love comes unseen,—we only see it go.
    • "The Story of Rosina", line 126; p. 41.
  • Carry his body hence,—
    Kings must have slaves;
    Kings climb to eminence
    Over men's graves:
    So this man's eye is dim;—
    Throw the earth over him.
    • "Before Sedan", line 7; p. 56.
  • And round about its gray, time-eaten brow
    Lean letters speak—a worn and shattered row:
    I am a Shade: a Shadowe too arte thou:
    I marke the Time: saye, Gossip, dost thou soe?
    • "The Sundial", line 5; p. 173

Old-World Idylls and Other Verses (1883)


London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd, 1883

  • O English girl, divine, demure,
    To YOU I sing!
    • "Introduction", line 14; p. vii.
  • All passes. ART alone
    Enduring stays to us:
    The Bust out-lasts the throne,—
    The Coin, Tiberius.
    • "Ars Victrix", line 29; p. 207.

At the Sign of the Lyre (1885)


London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1885

  • The ladies of St. James’s!
    They’re painted to the eyes;
    Their white it stays forever
    Their red it never dies:
    But Phillida, my Phillida!
    Her colour comes and goes;
    It trembles to a lily,—
    It wavers to a rose.
    • "The Ladies of St. James's", line 25; p. 4.
  • All the seasons run their race
    In this quiet resting place;
    Peach, and apricot, and fig
    Here will ripen, and grow big;
    Here is store and overplus,—
    More had not Alcinoüs!
    • "A Garden Song", line 7; p. 56.
  • In merest prudence men should teach […]
    That science ranks as monstrous things
    Two pairs of upper limbs; so wings—
    E'en angels' wings!—are fictions.
    • "A Fairy Tale", lines 19, 22–24; p. 74.

Quotes about Dobson

  • ... it may be interesting for an ear-witness to record that when Austin Dobson, after the publication of 'Vignettes in Rhyme,' was presented to Tennyson, that alarming vates inquired, in sepulchral tones, 'Are you a classic? Then become one! Read Horace every day of your life!' Dobson did not carry out this counsel quite to the letter, but with his customary docility in adopting good advice, he forthwith made a searching and prolonged study of the 'Odes' and 'Epistles,' a study the result of which upon his subsequent verse must be patent to the most careless observer, and may be traced upon his meticulous prose as well.
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