James Montgomery (poet)

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Here in the body pent,
Absent from Him I roam,
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
A day's march nearer home.

James Montgomery (November 4, 1771April 30, 1854) was a Scottish editor and poet.



The Pelican Island (1827)

In The Pelican Island, and other poems (1827), p. 1-104.
  • Nature's prime favourites were the Pelicans;
    High-fed, long-lived, and sociable and free.
    • Canto V, line 144.
  • Nimbly they seized and secreted their prey,
    Alive and wriggling in the elastic net,
    Which Nature hung beneath their grasping beaks;
    Till, swoln with captures, the unwieldy burden
    Clogg'd their slow flight, as heavily to land,
    These mighty hunters of the deep return'd.
    There on the cragged cliffs they perch'd at ease,
    Gorging their hapless victims one by one;
    Then full and weary, side by side, they slept,
    Till evening roused them to the chase again.
    • Canto IV, line 141.
  • The nursery of brooding Pelicans,
    The dormitory of their dead, had vanish'd,
    And all the minor spots of rock and verdure,
    The abodes of happy millions, were no more.
    • Canto VI, line 74.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Quotes reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • When the good man yields his breath
    (For the good man never dies).
    • The Wanderer of Switzerland, Part v. Compare: "Say not that the good die" (translated from original Greek), Callimachus, Epigram x.
  • Gashed with honourable scars,
    Low in Glory's lap they lie;
    Though they fell, they fell like stars,
    Streaming splendour through the sky.
    • The Battle of Alexandria.
  • Distinct as the billows, yet one as the sea.
    • The Ocean, Line 54.
  • Once, in the flight of ages past,
    There lived a man.
    • The Common Lot.
  • Counts his sure gains, and hurries back for more.
    • The West Indies, Part iii.
  • Hope against hope, and ask till ye receive.
    • The World before the Flood, Canto v. Compare: "It is to hope, though hope were lost", Anna Letitia Barbauld, Come here, Fond Youth.
  • Joys too exquisite to last,
    And yet more exquisite when past.
    • The Little Cloud.
  • Bliss in possession will not last;
    Remembered joys are never past;
    At once the fountain, stream, and sea,
    They were, they are, they yet shall be.
    • The Little Cloud.
  • Friend after friend departs;
    Who hath not lost a friend?
    There is no union here of hearts
    That finds not here an end.
    • Friends.
  • Nor sink those stars in empty night:
    They hide themselves in heaven's own light.
    • Friends.
  • 'T is not the whole of life to live,
    Nor all of death to die.
    • The Issues of Life and Death.
  • Beyond this vale of tears
    There is a life above,
    Unmeasured by the flight of years;
    And all that life is love.
    • The Issues of Life and Death.
  • Night is the time to weep,
    To wet with unseen tears
    Those graves of memory where sleep
    The joys of other years.
    • The Issues of Life and Death.
  • Who that hath ever been
    Could bear to be no more?
    Yet who would tread again the scene
    He trod through life before?
    • The Falling Leaf.
  • Here in the body pent,
    Absent from Him I roam,
    Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
    A day's march nearer home.
    • At Home in Heaven.
  • If God hath made this world so fair,
    Where sin and death abound,
    How beautiful beyond compare
    Will paradise be found!
    • The Earth full of God's Goodness.
  • Return unto thy rest, my soul,
    From all the wanderings of thy thought,
    From sickness unto death made whole,
    Safe through a thousand perils brought.
    • Rest for the Soul.
  • Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
    Uttered or unexpressed,—
    The motion of a hidden fire
    That trembles in the breast.
    • What is Prayer?
  • Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
    The falling of a tear,
    The upward glancing of an eye
    When none but God is near.
    • What is Prayer?


  • Hymns should have unity,graduation and mutual dependence in the thoughts,a conscious progress,a sense of completeness..and be easily understood.
    • Introductory Essay-Christian Psalmist,or Hymns Selected & Original (1825).
  • When to the cross I turn my eyes,
    And rest on Calvary,
    O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
    I must remember Thee.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 173.
  • Baptize the nations! far and nigh,
    The triumphs of the cross record
    The name of Jesus glorify,
    Till every people call Him Lord.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 322.

Quotes about Montgomery

  • As a poet Montgomery stands well to the front. His poetic genius was of a high order.
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