John Denham

From Wikiquote
(Redirected from Sir John Denham)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sir John Denham

Sir John Denham (1615 – March 10, 1669), poet, son of the Chief Baron of Exchequer in Ireland, was born in Dublin, and educated at Trinity College, Oxford and at Lincoln's Inn in London.


  • Actions o' th' last age are like almanacks o' th' last year.
    • The Sophy: A Tragedy (1642), Act I, scene ii.
  • Ambition is like love, impatient
    Both of delays and rivals.
    • The Sophy: A Tragedy, Act I, scene ii.
  • Such is our pride, our folly, or our fate,
    That few but such as cannot write, translate.
    • To Sir Richard Fanshaw, Upon his Translation of Pastor Fido (1648), line 1.
  • Nor ought a genius less than his that writ
    Attempt translation.
    • To Sir Richard Fanshaw, Upon his Translation of Pastor Fido, line 9.
  • That servile path thou nobly dost decline
    Of tracing word by word, and line by line;
    A new and nobler way thou dost pursue
    To make translations, and translators too;
    They but preserve the ashes, thou the flame,
    True to his sense, but truer to his fame.
    • To Sir Richard Fanshaw, Upon his Translation of Pastor Fido, line 15.
  • I conceive it is a vulgar error in translating poets, to affect being fidus interpres... [for] poetry is of so subtile a spirit, that in the pouring out of one language into another, it will all evaporate; and if a new spirit be not added in the transfusion, there will remain nothing but a caput mortuum, there being certain graces and happinesses peculiar to every language, which give life and energy to the words... therefore if Virgil must needs speak English, it were fit he should speak not only as a man of this nation, but as [a] man of this age.
    • The Destruction of Troy (1656), Preface.
  • Books should to one of these four ends conduce,
    For wisdom, piety, delight, or use.
    • Of Prudence (1668), line 83.
  • Youth, what man's age is like to be doth show,
    We may our ends by our beginnings know.
    • Of Prudence, line 225.
  • Search not to find what lies too deeply hid,
    Nor to know things, whose knowledge is forbid.
    • Of Prudence, line 231.
  • Though with those streams he no resemblance hold,
    Whose foam is amber and their gravel gold;
    His genuine and less guilty wealth t' explore,
    Search not his bottom, but survey his shore.
    • Cooper's Hill, Line 165.
  • Oh, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
    My great example, as it is my theme!
    Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
    Strong without rage; without o'erflowing, full.
    • Cooper's Hill, Line 189.
  • But whither am I strayed? I need not raise
    Trophies to thee from other men's dispraise;
    Nor is thy fame on lesser ruins built;
    Nor needs thy juster title the foul guilt
    Of Eastern kings, who, to secure their reign,
    Must have their brothers, sons, and kindred slain.
    • On Mr. John Fletcher's Works. Compare: "Poets are sultans, if they had their will; For every author would his brother kill", Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery, Prologues (republished in Dramatic Works, 1739); "Should such a man, too fond to rule alone, Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne", Alexander Pope, Prologue to the Satires, line 197.


  • We're ne'er like angels till our passion dies.
    • Not by Denham, as often stated, but by Thomas Dekker. It is in his The Honest Whore Part 2, Act I, scene 2.

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about: