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- If you would be pungent, be brief ; for it is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.
- Quoted in A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern, ed. Tryon Edwards, F. B. Dickerson Company (1908), p. 52
- Cold is thy heart and as frozen as Charity!
- The Soldier's Wife, l. 11 (1795).
- "You are old, Father William." the young man cried,
"The few locks which are left you are grey;
You are hale, Father William—a hearty old man:
Now tell me the reason, I pray."
- The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them, st. 1 (1799).
- "In my days of youth, I remembered my God,
And he hath not forgotten my age."
- The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them, st. 6.
- How beautiful is night!
A dewy freshness fills the silent air;
No mist obscures; nor cloud, nor speck, nor stain,
Breaks the serene of heaven:
In full-orbed glory, yonder moon divine
Rolls through the dark blue depths;
Beneath her steady ray
The desert circle spreads
Like the round ocean, girdled with the sky.
How beautiful is night!
- Thalaba the Destroyer, Bk. I, st. 1 (1800).
- And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok.
- The Inchcape Rock, st. 4 (1802).
- Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
“Oh Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!”
- The Inchcape Rock, st. 15.
- Will ye believe
The wonders of the ocean? how its shoals
Sprang from the wave, like flashing light; .. took wing,
And, twinkling with a silver glitterance,
Flew through the air and sunshine? yet were they
To sight less wondrous than the tribe who swam,
Following like fowlers, with uplifted eye,
Their falling quarry: .. language cannot paint
Their splendid tints! though in blue ocean seen,
Blue, darkly, deeply, beautifully blue,
In all its rich variety of shades,
Suffus'd with glowing gold.
- What will not woman, gentle woman dare,
When strong affection stirs her spirit up?
- Madoc in Wales, Part II, 2 (1805).
- And last of all an Admiral came,
A terrible man with a terrible name,—
A name which you all know by sight very well,
But which no one can speak, and no one can spell.
- March to Moscow, St. 8 (1814).
- Where Washington hath left
His awful memory
A light for after times!
- Ode written during the War with America (1814).
- The laws are with us, and God on our side.
- On the Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection, Essay viii, Vol. ii (1817).
- My days among the Dead are past;
Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
The mighty minds of old;
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.
- My Days Among the Dead Are Past, st. 1 (1818).
- Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust.
- My Days Among the Dead Are Past, st. 4.
- Agreed to differ.
- Life of Wesley (1820).
- The Satanic school.
- Vision of Judgment, original preface (1821).
- The arts babblative and scribblative.
- Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, No. 1, pt. 2 (1829).
- The march of intellect.
- Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, No. 1, pt. 14. Compare: "The march of the human mind is slow", Edmund Burke, Speech on the Conciliation of America, Vol. ii., p. 149.
- Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be.
- Letter to Charlotte Brontë in March 1837, reported in Gaskell The life of Charlotte Brontë, Vol. I (1857), p. 139, and in Mumby Letters of Literary Men, Vol. II (1906), p. 185.
- Write poetry for its own sake — not in a spirit of emulation, and not with a view to celebrity; the less you aim at that the more likely you will be to deserve and finally to obtain it.
- Letter to Charlotte Brontë in March 1837; Gaskell The life of Charlotte Brontë, Vol. I (1857), p. 140.
- And then she went to the porridge of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and tasted that; and that was neither too hot nor too cold, but just right.
- Somebody has been sitting in my chair!
- "The Story of the Three Bears", The Doctor (1837).
- Wild dreams! but such
As Plato lov'd; such as with holy zeal
Our Milton worshipp'd. Blessed hopes! awhile
From man with-held, even to the latter days
When Christ shall come, and all things be fulfill'd.
- For the apartment in Chepstow Castle where Henry Marten the Regicide was imprisoned thirty years.
The Battle of Blenheim (1798)
- It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar's work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun,
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
- St. 1.
- He came to ask what he had found,
That was so large, and smooth, and round.
- St. 2.
- "'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he,
"Who fell in the great victory."
- St. 3.
- But what they fought each other for
I could not well make out.
- St. 6.
- "And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win."
"But what good came of it at last?"
Quoth little Peterkin.
"Why, that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory."
- St. 11.
The Devil's Walk (1799)
- From his brimstone bed, at break of day,
A-walking the Devil is gone,
To look at his little, snug farm of the World,
And see how his stock went on.
- St. 1.
- How, then, was the Devil dressed?
Oh! he was in his Sunday's best;
His coat was red, and his breeches were blue,
And there was a hole where his tail came through.
- St. 3.
- He passed a cottage with a double coach-house,
A cottage of gentility;
And he owned with a grin
That his favorite sin
Is pride that apes humility.
- St. 8. Compare: "And the Devil did grin, for his darling sin / Is pride that apes humility", Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Devil's Thoughts.
- Thou hast confessions to listen,
And bells to christen,
And altars and dolls to dress;
And fools to coax,
And sinners to hoax,
And beads and bones to bless;
And great pardons to sell
For those who pay well,
And small ones for those who pay less.
- St. 25.
- At this good news, so great
The Devil's pleasure grew,
That, with a joyful swish, he rent
The hole where his tail came through.
- St. 31.
- "Great news! bloody news!" cried a newsman;
The Devil said, "Stop, let me see!"
"Great news? bloody news?" thought the Devil;
"The bloodier the better for me."
- St. 33.
The Curse of Kehama (1810)
- Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to roost.
- They sin who tell us love can die;
With life all other passions fly,
All others are but vanity.
. . . . .
Love is indestructible,
Its holy flame forever burneth;
From heaven it came, to heaven returneth.
. . . . .
It soweth here with toil and care,
But the harvest-time of love is there.
- Canto X, st. 10.
- Oh, when a mother meets on high
The babe she lost in infancy,
Hath she not then for pains and fears,
The day of woe, the watchful night,
For all her sorrow, all her tears,
An over-payment of delight?
- Canto X, st. 11.
- Thou hast been called, O sleep! the friend of woe;
But ’tis the happy that have called thee so.
- Canto XV, st. 11.
The Cataract of Lodore (1820)
- How does the water
Come down at Lodore?
- St. 1.
- So I told them in rhyme,
For of rhymes I had store.
- St. 1.
- From its fountains
In the mountains,
Its rills and its gills;
Through moss and through brake,
It runs and it creeps
For a while, till it sleeps
In its own little lake.
- St. 2.
- It runs through the reeds,
And away it proceeds,
Through meadow and glade,
In sun and in shade,
And through the wood-shelter,
Among crags in its flurry,
- St. 2.
- Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and sweeping,
Showering and springing,
Flying and flinging,
Writhing and ringing,
Eddying and whisking,
Spouting and frisking,
Turning and twisting,
Around and around
With endless rebound:
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.
- St. 4.
- And so never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions forever and ever are blending
All at once and all o'er, with a mighty uproar, —
And this way the water comes down at Lodore.
- St. 8.
About Robert Southey
- Ye vales and hills, whose beauty hither drew
The poet's steps, and fixed him here, on you
His eyes have closed; and ye, loved books, no more
Shall Southey feed upon your precious lore,
To works that ne'er shall forfeit their renown,
Adding immortal labors of his own;
Whether he traced historic truth with zeal
For the state's guidance, or the church's weal;
Or Fancy, disciplined by studious Art,
Informed his pen, or Wisdom of the heart
Or Judgments sanctioned in the patriot's mind
By reverence for the rights of all mankind.
Large were his aims, yet in no human breast
Could private feelings find a holier nest.
His joys, his griefs, have vanished like a cloud
From Skiddaw's top, but he to heaven was vowed
Through a life long and pure, and steadfast faith
Calmed in his soul the fear of change and death.
- Epitaph on Southey ~ William Wordsworth.