A sword is an edged weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. All swords have a blade and a handle, known as the hilt. Blades may be straight, curved, single-edged, double-edged or just pointed; hilts vary considerably in style and length, and may include protective guards for the hand. The sword is symbolic of liberty and strength, and an emblem of military honor which it is said should incite the bearer to a just and generous pursuit of honor and virtue. In the Middle Ages, the sword was often used as a symbol of the word of God. The etymology of the word sword is traced to Old English sweord, from Proto-Germanic *swerdan, from Proto-Indo-European *su̯r̥dhom. This page is for quotes about swords and swordsmanship or their use as metaphors.
- A tear is an intellectual thing,
And a sigh is the Sword of an Angel King.
- William Blake, "The Agony of Faith"
- Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy (1839), Act II, scene II
- I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I have got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder.
- The recruit must be carefully and sedulously taught when meeting the enemy, even at a trot or canter, to use no force whatever, otherwise his sword will bury itself to the hilt, and the swordsman will either be dragged from his horse, or will be compelled to drop his weapon — if he can.
- Richard Francis Burton, in A New System of Sword Exercise for Infantry (1876)
- You are offensive … because this page has a sword which I chose to say is not a sword. You are lewd because that page has a lance which I prefer to think is not a lance. You are lascivious because yonder page has a staff which I elect to declare is not a staff. And finally, you are indecent for reasons of which a description would be objectionable to me, and which therefore I must decline to reveal to anybody.…
- One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
- On a lonely sword leaned he,
Like Arthur on Excalibur
In the battle by the sea.
To his great gold ear-ring Harold
Tugged back the feathered tail,
And swift had sprung the arrow,
But swifter sprang the Gael.
Whirling the one sword round his head,
A great wheel in the sun,
He sent it splendid through the sky,
Flying before the shaft could fly —
It smote Earl Harold over the eye,
And blood began to run.
- Said Alfred: "Who would see
Signs, must give all things. Verily
Man shall not taste of victory
Till he throws his sword away."
- We discern across the centuries a commanding and versatile intelligence, wielding with equal force the sword of war and of justice; using in defence arms and policy; cherishing religion, learning, and art in the midst of adversity and danger; welding together a nation, and seeking always across the feuds and hatreds of the age a peace which would smile upon the land.
- King Arthur had a dream, too. Of a world where might served right, instead of subjugating it. His knights of the Round Table were the agents of that dream … and his sword, Excalibur, the Symbol of it. He died, the table was destroyed, his knights mostly slain — yet the dream survived. They became legend — and the sword, the means of keeping the legend alive and vital through the ages. … The sword Excalibur, represented Hope. It was light in the darkness of fear and ignorance and hate. Do we want — have we the right — to snuff it out?
- Folly such as yours,
Grac'd with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made what enemies could ne'er have done.
Our arch of empire, stedfast but for you,
A mutilated structure, soon to fall.
- William Cowper, in The Task (1785), Book I, line 770
- L'épée est l'axe du monde
- The sword is the axis of the world
- Charles de Gaulle, Vers l’armée de métier (1934)
- I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
- Though I have been trained as a soldier, and participated in many battles, there never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword. I look forward to an epoch when a court, recognized by all nations, will settle international differences, instead of keeping large standing armies as they do in Europe.
- Education is a means of sharpening the mind of man both spiritually and intellectually. It is a two-edged sword that can be used either for the progress of mankind or for its destruction.
- Haile Selassie, in a University Graduation address (2 July 1963), published in Important Utterances of H. I. M. Emperor Haile Selassie I, 1963-1972 (1972), p. 22
- I picked up and balanced them all... and found there the blade that suited me the way Excalibur suited Arthur. I've never seen one quite like it so I don't know what to call it. … It balanced in the forte less than two inches from the guard, yet the blade was heavy enough to chop bone. It was the sort of sword that feels as if it were an extension of your body.
- A properly balanced sword is the most versatile weapon for close quarters ever devised. Pistols and guns are all offense, no defense; close on him fast and a man with a gun can't shoot, he has to stop you before you reach him. Close on a man carrying a blade and you'll be spitted like a roast pigeon — unless you have a blade and can use it better than he can.
A sword never jams, never has to be reloaded, is always ready. Its worst shortcoming is that it takes great skill and patient, loving practice to gain that skill; it can't be taught to raw recruits in weeks, nor even months..
- There is a go-for-broke tactic, "the target," taught by the best swordmasters, which consists in headlong advance with arm, wrist, and blade in full extension — all attack and no attempt to parry. But it works only by perfect timing when you see your opponent slacken up momentarily. Otherwise it is suicide.
- I knew in three seconds that I was up against a better swordsman than myself, with a wrist like steel yet supple as a striking snake. He was the only swordsman I have ever met who used prime and octave — used them, I mean, as readily as sixte and carte. Everyone learns them and my own master made me practice them as much as the other six — but most fencers don't use them; they simply may be forced into them, awkwardly and just before losing a point.
I would lose, not a point, but my life — and I knew, long before the end of that first long phrase, that my life was what I was about to lose, by all odds.
- Swordplay is an odd thing; you don't really use your mind, it is much too fast for that. Your wrist thinks and tells your feet and body what to do, bypassing your brain...
- If men are to meet steel with steel, they should be adequately armed. Long spears and short swords to meet a charge of long swords. If you don't believe that, read the chronicles of Rome and Macedonia.
- Robert E. Howard, in a letter to Tevis Clyde Smith (24 August 1923)
- Wits and swords are as straws against the wisdom of the Darkness.
- He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
- Isaiah 2:3 - 4 (KJV)
- Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide.
The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel,
formerly used to kill men, but here
In the sense of a symbol.
- Robinson Jeffers, in "Contemplation of The Sword" (1938)
- Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
- Jesus, Matthew 10:34 (KJV)
- Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
- Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
- ...and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
- Jesus, Luke 22:36 (NKJV)
- Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness.
- John F. Kennedy, Address before the General Assembly before the United Nations (25 September 1961)
- "I believe in things I never used to. I think someone is trying to find me — has found me. And is calling. Who it is I don't know. What they want I don't know. But a little while ago I found out one more thing — this sword."
I picked the sword up from the table.
"It isn't what I want," I went on, "But sometimes, when my mind is — abstract, something from outside floats into it. Like the need for a sword. And not any sword — just one. I don't know what the sword looks like, but I'd know if I held it in my hand." I laughed a little. "And if I drew it a few inches from the sheath, I could put out that fire up there as if I'd blown on it like a candleflame. And if I drew the sword all the way out — the world would come to an end!"
- Henry Kuttner, in The Dark World (1954), Ch. 1 : Fire in the Night
- In reference to you, colored people, let me say God has made you free. Although you have been deprived of your God-given rights by your so-called 'masters', you are now as free as I am, and if those that claim to be your 'superiors' do not know that you are free, take the sword and bayonet and teach them that you are; for God created all men free, giving to each the same rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
- What does it mean to be Samurai? To devote yourself utterly to a set of moral principles. To seek a stillness of your mind. And to master the way of the sword.
- You can't expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
- You can know how to win through strategy with the long sword, but it cannot be clearly explained in writing. You must practise diligently in order to understand how to win.
- The sword is the key of heaven and hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of Allah, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer: whosoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven, and at the day of judgment his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim."
- It is easy to kill someone with a slash of a sword. It is hard to be impossible for others to cut down.
- Yagyū Munenori, as quoted in Behold the Second Horseman (2005), by Joseph Lumpkin, p. 53.
- It seemed that the land would be torn by war,
??Or saved by a miracle alone —
And that miracle appeared in London town:
The Sword in the Stone.
…And below the hilt, in letters of gold, were written these words: "Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise King born of England." Though many tried for the Sword with all their strength, none could move the Sword, nor stir it. So the miracle had not worked, and England was still without a King. And, in time, the marvelous Sword was forgotten. This was a Dark Age, without law and without order. Men lived in fear of one another, for the strong preyed upon the weak.
- I’ve climbed up here
holding the hilt of time’s sword
after driving it
into my tender heart.
- Suman Pokhrel, While Parting
- The pen is mightier than the sword … if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.
- He had the unique opportunity to watch Conina fight. Not many men ever got to see it twice.
Her opponents started off grinning at the temerity of a slight young girl attacking them, and then rapidly passed through various stages of puzzlement, doubt, concern, and abject gibbering terror as they apparently became the center of a flashing, tightening circle of steel.
- Greebo's technique was unscientific and wouldn't have stood a chance against any decent swordmanship, but on his side was the fact that it is almost impossible to develop decent swordmanship when you seem to have run into a food mixer that is biting your ear off.
- Hiko Seijuro: Murder is the only art a swordsman may practice. No ornamental words can change that. You want to protect people with murder? You’ll slaughter legions so that a few may live. Many years, long before you were born, my sword was tearing asunder the lives of men. Yes, all of those men were evil, but they were human beings first and foremost, Kenshin. The world you ardently desire to enter will not know what to do with you. It will deceive you into believing that you are saving lives even as you destroy them. You will accept these lies all the while, your hands will be stained with the worst of offenses.
- I never saw any one like him. He is steel! He would go through you like a sword!
- Aragorn: Sauron will not have forgotten the sword of Elendil. The blade that was broken shall return to Minas Tirith.
Elrond: The man who can wield the power of this sword can summon to him an army more deadly than any that walks this earth. Put aside the Ranger. Become who you were born to be.
- I'm not saying the battle is won
But on Saturday night all those kids in the sun
Wrested technology's sword from the hands of the warlords.
Ooh, the tide is turning
Ooh, the tide is turning.
- There may be a hundred stances and sword positions, but you win with just one.
- Throwing down your own sword is also an art of war. If you have attained mastery of swordlessness, you will never lack for a sword. The opponent's sword is your sword. This is acting at the vanguard of the moment.
- Yagyū Munenori, as quoted in Soul of the Samurai (2005) by Thomas Cleary, p. 28
- Variant translation: If you have attained mastery of swordlessness, you will never be without a sword.
- Conquering evil, not the opponent, is the essence of swordsmanship.
- Yagyū Munenori, as quoted in Behold the Second Horseman (2005), by Joseph Lumpkin, p. 44
- It is easy to kill someone with a slash of a sword. It is hard to be impossible for others to cut down.
- Yagyū Munenori, as quoted in Behold the Second Horseman (2005), by Joseph Lumpkin, p. 53