James Stephens (author)

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James Stephens (9 February 188026 December 1950) was an Irish novelist, broadcaster and poet, now best known for his fantasy novel The Crock of Gold. James Joyce thought so highly of him he considered asking him to complete Finnegans Wake.


  • Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
    • The Crock of Gold (Charleston: BiblioBazaar, [1912] 2006) p. 13.
  • Finality is death. Perfection is finality. Nothing is perfect. There are lumps in it.
    • The Crock of Gold (Charleston: BiblioBazaar, [1912] 2006) p. 27.
  • Because our lives are cowardly and sly,
    Because we do not dare to take or give,
    Because we scowl and pass each other by,
    We do not live; we do not dare to live.
    • "The Road", line 1, in Songs from the Clay (London: Macmillan, 1915) p. 97.
  • If I asked her master he'd give me a cask a day;
    But she, with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
    May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten, and may
    The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.
    • "A Glass of Beer" (1918), line 9, in Collected Poems (London: Macmillan, 1954) p. 185.
  • I would think
    Until I found
    I can never find;
    – Something
    On the ground,
    In the bottom
    Of my mind.
    • "The Goat Paths", line 89, in Collected Poems (London: Macmillan, 1954) p. 6.
  • The duty of a lyrical poet is not to express or explain, it is to intensify life.
    • Collected Poems (London: Macmillan, 1954) p. xii.
  • Speech and prose are not the same thing. They have different wave-lengths, for speech moves at the speed of light, where prose moves at the speed of the alphabet, and must be consecutive and grammatical and word-perfect. Prose cannot gesticulate. Speech can sometimes do nothing else.
    • "Finnegans Wake", in James, Seamas & Jacques: Unpublished Writings (London: Macmillan, 1964) p. 161.

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