Theodore Watts-Dunton

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Theodore Watts-Dunton (12 October 18326 June 1914) was an English critic and poet.


  • Yon silvery billows breaking on the beach
    Fall back in foam beneath the star-shine clear,
    The while my rhymes are murmuring in your ear
    A restless lore like that the billows teach;
    For on these sonnet-waves my soul would reach
    From its own depths, and rest within you, dear,
    As, through the billowy voices yearning here
    Great nature strives to find a human speech.

    A sonnet is a wave of melody:
    From heaving waters of the impassion'd soul
    A billow of tidal music one and whole
    Flows in the "octave"; then, returning free,
    Its ebbing surges in the "sestet" roll
    Back to the deeps of Life's tumultuous sea.

    • "The Sonnet's Voice (A metrical lesson by the seashore)", in The Athenaeum (17 September 1881).

The Coming of Love and Other Poems (1897)


London: John Lane, 1897

  • We looked o'er London, where men wither and choke,
    Roofed in, poor souls, renouncing stars and skies,
    And lore of woods and wild wind prophecies,
    Yea, every voice that to their fathers spoke.
    • "A Talk on Waterloo Bridge: The Last Sight of George Borrow", p. 150.
  • When hope lies dead—ah, when 'tis death to live,
    And wrongs remembered make the heart still bleed,
    Better are Sleep's kind lies for Life's blind need
    Than truth, if lies a little peace can give.
    • "Prophetic Pictures at Venice II: The Temptation", p. 199.
  • Man's knowledge, save before his fellow man,
    Is ignorance—his widest wisdom folly.
    • "Prophetic Pictures at Venice VII: New Year's Morning, 1867", p. 207.

Quotes about Theodore Watts-Dunton

  • Theodore Watts, as he told me twenty years ago, holds the opinion that Shakespeare wrote private poetry in a separate book while composing his dramas, and that he gave such portions of it as he could make fit, to certain of his characters. He thought, if I remember aright that the soliloquy and the dagger-scence were morsels of this sort. It certainly must strike one that the "the law's delay" and "the insolence of office" were not prominent grievances in Hamlet's career.
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