Sidney Lanier

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Sidney Lanier

Sidney Lanier (February 3, 1842July 7, 1881) was an American poet, novelist and musician. Lanier died from complications of tuberculosis; aged thirty-nine.


  • Verse is a set of specially related sounds, repeated aloud.
    • Preface to The Science of English Verse 1880
  • 'Daring with my poem 'Special Pleading' to give myself such freedom as I desired, in my own style'
    • From Memorial by William Hayes Ward to The Poems of Sidney Lanier (ed. Mary D Lanier)
  • Sweet Sometime, fly fast for me.
    • Special Pleading 1875 (Lanier's poem on Time).
  • My principle is, the artist shall put forth, humbly & lovingly, without bitterness, the very best & highest that is within him,utterly regardless of contemporary criticism.
    • Letter to the poet's father May 6 1876.
  • Music means harmony, harmony means love. Love means God.
    • Tiger Lilies a novel, Hurd & Houghton , New York 1867
  • On Poe - I esteem Poe more highly than my countrymen are wont to do . The trouble with him (Poe) was, he did not KNOW enough. He needed to know a good many more things in order to be a great poet.
  • On Swinburne - He invited me to eat; the service was silver and gold, but no food therein save pepper and salt.
  • On William Morris - He caught a crystal cupful of the yellow light of sunset, and persuading himself to dream it wine, drank it with a sort of smile.
  • On Whitman - His poetry refreshed me like harsh salt spray.
    • From Memorial by William Hayes Ward to The Poems of Sidney Lanier (ed. Mary D Lanier)


  • O Trade, O Trade! Would thou wert dead!
    The time needs heart — 'tis tired of head.
    • "The Symphony" (1875).
  • And yet shall Love himself be heard,
    Though long deferred, though long deferred:
    O'er the modern waste a dove hath whirred:
    Music is Love in search of a word.
    • "The Symphony" (1875).
  • Virginal shy lights,
    Wrought of the leaves to allure to the whisper of vows,
    When lovers pace timidly down through the green colonnades
    Of the dim sweet woods, of the dear dark woods,
    Of the heavenly woods and glades,
    That run to the radiant marginal sand-beach within
    The wide sea-marshes of Glynn.
  • The sun is a-wait at the ponderous gate of the West.
    • "The Marshes of Glynn" (1878).
  • Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-withholding and free
    Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea!
    Tolerant plains, that suffer the sea and the rains and the sun,
    Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath mightily won
    God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain
    And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain.
    • "The Marshes of Glynn" (1878).
  • The incalculable Up-and-Down of Time.
    • "Clover", reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
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