Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

George William Russell

Irish Nationalist, Mystical Writer, Editor, Critic, Poet and Painter

"We may fight against what is wrong, but if we allow ourselves to hate, that is to insure our spiritual defeat and our likeness to what we hate."

"Seek on earth what you have found in heaven. "

"Our hearts were drunk with a beauty Our eyes could never see. "

"Any relations in a social order will endure, if there is infused into them some of that spirit of human sympathy which qualifies life for immortality."

"Though your eyes with tears were blind, Pain upon the path you trod: Well we knew, the hosts behind, Voice and shining of a god. For your darkness was our day: Signal fires, your pains untold Lit us on our wandering way To the mystic heart of gold. Naught we knew of the high land, Beauty burning in its spheres; Sorrow we could understand And the mystery told in tears."

"A Last Counsel - Could you not in silence borrow Strength to go from us ungrieving? All these hours of loving sorrow Only make more bitter leaving. You will go forth lonely, thinking Of the pain you leave behind you; From the golden sunlight shrinking For the earthly tears will blind you. Better, ah, if now we parted For the little while remaining; You would seek when broken-hearted For the mighty heart's sustaining. You would go then gladly turning From our place of wounds and weeping, With your soul for comfort burning To the mother-bosom creeping. "

"How often have I said, “We may not grieve for the immortal dead.” And now, poor blenchèd heart, Thy ruddy hues all tremulous depart. Why be with fate at strife Because one passes on from death to life, Who may no more delay Rapt from our strange and pitiful dream away By one with ancient claim Who robes her with the spirit like a flame. Not lost this high belief— Oh, passionate heart, what is thy cause for grief? Is this thy sorrow now, She in eternal beauty may not bow Thy troubles to efface As in old time a head with gentle grace All tenderly laid by thine Taught thee the nearness of the love divine. Her joys no more for thee Than the impartial laughter of the sea, Her beauty no more fair For thee alone, but starry, everywhere. Her pity dropped for you No more than heaven above with healing dew Favours one home of men— Ah! grieve not; she becomes herself again, And passed beyond thy sight She roams along the thought-swept fields of light, Moving in dreams until She finds again the root of ancient will, The old heroic love That emptied once the heavenly courts above. The angels heard from earth A mournful cry which shattered all their mirth, Raised by a senseless rout Warring in chaos with discordant shout, And that the pain might cease They grew rebellious in the Master’s peace; And falling downward then The angelic lights were crucified in men; Leaving so radiant spheres For earth’s dim twilight ever wet with tears That through those shadows dim Might breathe the lovely music brought from Him. And now my grief I see Was but that ancient shadow part of me, Not yet attuned to good, Still blind and senseless in its warring mood, I turn from it and climb To the heroic spirit of the prime, The light that well foreknew All the dark ways that it must journey through. Yet seeing still a gain, A distant glory o’er the hills of pain, Through all that chaos wild A breath as gentle as a little child, Through earth transformed, divine, The Christ-soul of the universe to shine. "

"A Vision of Beauty - WHERE we sat at dawn together, while the star-rich heavens shifted, We were weaving dreams in silence, suddenly the veil was lifted. By a hand of fire awakened, in a moment caught and led Upward to the heaven of heavens—through the star-mists overhead Flare and flaunt the monstrous highlands; on the sapphire coast of night Fall the ghostly froth and fringes of the ocean of the light. Many coloured shine the vapours: to the moon-eye far away ’Tis the fairy ring of twilight, mid the spheres of night and day, Girdling with a rainbow cincture round the planet where we go, We and it together fleeting, poised upon the pearly glow; We and it and all together flashing through the starry spaces In a tempest dream of beauty lighting up the face of faces. Half our eyes behold the glory; half within the spirit’s glow Echoes of the noiseless revels and the will of Beauty go. By a hand of fire uplifted—to her star-strewn palace brought, To the mystic heart of beauty and the secret of her thought: Here of yore the ancient Mother in the fire mists sank to rest, And she built her dreams about her, rayed from out her burning breast: Here the wild will woke within her lighting up her flying dreams, Round and round the planets whirling break in woods and flowers and streams, And the winds are shaken from them as the leaves from off the rose, And the feet of earth go dancing in the way that beauty goes, And the souls of earth are kindled by the incense of her breath As her light alternate lures them through the gates of birth and death. O’er the fields of space together following her flying traces, In a radiant tumult thronging, suns and stars and myriad races Mount the spirit spires of beauty, reaching onward to the day When the Shepherd of the Ages draws his misty hordes away Through the glimmering deeps to silence, and within the awful fold Life and joy and love forever vanish as a tale is told, Lost within the Mother’s being. So the vision flamed and fled, And before the glory fallen every other dream lay dead. "

"A shaft of fire that falls like dew, and melts and maddens all my blood, from out thy spirit flashes through the burning glass of womanhood. I must endure the torturing ray, and, with all beauty, all desire. Ah, time-long must the effort be,"

"A young man who had been troubling society with impalpable doctrines of a new civilization which he called "the Kingdom of Heaven" had been put out of the way; and I can imagine that believer in material power murmuring as he went homeward, "it will all blow over now." Yes. The wind from the Kingdom of Heaven has blown over the world, and shall blow for centuries yet."

"After the spiritual powers, there is nothing in the world more unconquerable than the spirit of nationality... The spirit of nationality in Ireland will persist even though the mightiest of material powers be its neighbor."

"Age is no more near than youth to the sceptre and the crown. Vain the wisdom, vain the truth; do not lay thy rapture down."

"Ah, immortality so blind, to dream all things with it conjoined must follow it from star to star"

"Ah, sigh for us whose hearts unseeing point all their passionate love in vain, and blinded in the joy of being, meet only when pain touches pain."

"Ah, to think how thin the veil that lies Between the pain of hell and Paradise."

"Ah, when I think this earth on which we tread hath borne these blossoms of the lovely dead, and made the living heart I love to beat, I look with sudden awe beneath my feet as you with erring reverence overhead."

"All the morn a spirit gay breathes within my heart a rhyme, 'tis but hide and seek we play in and out the courts of Time."

"And share with it immortal years. The memory, yearning, grief, and tears, fall from it and it goes afar."

"And far the way that I must go to bring my spirit unto thee, behind the glass, within the glow."

"As to her worshippers she came descending from her glowing skies so Aphrodite I have seen with shining eyes look through your eyes: one gleam of the ancestral face which lighted up the dawn for me: one fiery visitation of the love the gods desire in thee!"

"And sun and moon and starry fires and earth and air and sea are creatures from the deep let loose who pause in ecstasy, or wing their wild and heavenly way until again they find"

"Aye, after victory, the crown; yet through the fight no word of cheer; and what would win and what go down no word could help, no light make clear. A thousand ages onward led their joys and sorrows to that hour; no wisdom weighed, no word was said, for only what we were had power."

"By many a dream of God and man my thoughts in shining flocks were led: but as I went through Patrick Street the hopes and prophecies were dead. The hopes and prophecies were dead: they could not blossom where the feet walked amid rottenness, or where the brawling shouters stamped the street."

"But yet my spirit rose in pride, refashioning in burnished gold the images of those who died, or were shut in the penal cell. Here's to you, Pearse, your dream not mine, but yet the thought, for this you fell, has turned life's water into wine."

"Aye, and deep and deep and deeper let me drink and draw, from the olden fountain more than light or peace or dream, such primeval being as o'erfills the heart with awe, growing one with its silent stream."

"Canst thou not see down the silver cloud land streaming rivers of faery light, dewdrop on dewdrop falling, star fire of silver flames, lighting the dark beneath? And what enraptured hosts burn on the dusky heath! Come thou away with them, for Heaven to Earth is calling."

"Drink: the immortal waters quench the spirit's longing. Art thou not now, bright one, all sorrow past, in elation, made young with joy, grown brother-hearted with the vast, whither thy spirit wending flits the dim stars past unto the Light of Lights in burning adoration."

"Dread deities, the giant powers that warred on men grow tender brothers and gay children once again; fades every hate away before the Mother's breast where all the exiles of the heart return to rest."

"Cry aloud to heaven for new souls. The souls you have got cast upon the screens of publicity appear like the horrid and writhing creatures enlarged from the insect world, and revealed to us by the cinematographer. You may succeed in your policy and ensure your own damnation by your victory. The men whose manhood you have broken will loathe you, and will always be brooding and scheming to strike a fresh blow. The children will be taught to curse you. The infant being molded in the womb will have breathed into its starved body the vitality of hate. It is not they — it is you who are the blind Samson’s pulling down the pillars of the social order."

"For beauty called to beauty and there thronged at the enchanter's will the vanished hours of love that burn within the Ever-living still."

"Each dream remembered is a burning-glass, where through to darkness from the Light of Lights its rays in splendor pass."

"For gems the starry dust of night.' 'The breath of joy unceasingly waves to and fro its folds starlit, and far beyond earth's misery I live and breathe the joy of it.'"

"For sure the enchanted waters pour through every wind that blows. I think when night towers up aloft and shakes the trembling dew how every high and lonely thought that thrills my being through is but a ruddy berry dropped down through the purple air, and from the magic tree of life the fruit falls everywhere."

"He bent above: so still her breath what air she breathed he could not say, whether in worlds of life or death: so softly ebbed away, away the life that had been light to him, so fled her beauty leaving dim the emptying chambers of his heart thrilled only by the pang and smart, the dull and throbbing agony that suffers still, yet knows not why."

"Forgive me, Spirit of my spirit, for this, that I have found it easier to read the mystery told in tears and understood Thee better in sorrow than in joy."

"Here in these shades the Ancient knows itself, the Soul, and out of slumber waking starts unto the goal."

"Here the ancient mystery holds its hands out day by day, takes a chair and croons with me by my cabin built of clay. When the dusky shadow flits, by the chimney nook I see where the old enchanter sits, smiles, and waves, and beckons me."

"He felt an inner secret joy! A spirit of unfettered will through light and darkness moving still within the All to find its own, to be immortal and alone."

"Here's to you, men I never met, yet hope to meet behind the veil, thronged on some starry parapet, that looks down upon Innisfail, and sees the confluence of dreams that clashed together in our night, one river, born from many streams, roll in one blaze of blinding light."

"Heart-hidden from the outer things I rose; the spirit woke anew in nightly birth unto the vastness where forever glows the star-soul of the earth. There all alone in primal ecstasy, within her depths where revels never tire, the Olden Beauty shines: each thought of me is veined through with its fire."

"Here the wild will woke within her lighting up her flying dreams, round and round the planets whirling break in woods and flowers and streams, and the winds are shaken from them as the leaves from off the rose, and the feet of earth go dancing in the way that beauty goes, and the souls of earth are kindled by the incense of her breath as her light alternate lures them through the gates of birth and death."

"He has built his monument with the winds of time at strife, who could have before he went written in the book of life. To the stars from which he came empty handed he goes home; he who might have wrought in flame only traced upon the foam.'"

"How shallow is this mere that gleams! Its depth of blue is from the skies; and from a distant sun the dreams and lovely light within your eyes."

"Hush, not a whisper! Let your heart alone go dreaming. Dream unto dream may pass: deep in the heart alone murmurs the Mighty One his solemn undertone."

"I am the heartbreak over fallen things, the sudden gentleness that stays the blow, and I am in the kiss that foemen give pausing in battle, and in the tears that fall over the vanquished foe, and in the highest; among the Danaan gods, I am the last council of mercy in their hearts where they mete justice from a thousand starry thrones."

"I can enchant the trees and rocks, and fill the dumb brown lips of earth with mystery, make them reveal or hide the god. I breathe a deeper pity than all love, myself mother of all, but without hands to heal: too vast and vague, they know me not."

"I am the sunlight in the heart, the silver moon glow in the mind; my laughter runs and ripples through the wavy tresses of the wind. I am the fire upon the hills, the dancing flame that leads afar each burning-hearted wanderer, and I the dear and homeward star."

"I could if I wanted, sit down and write steadily and without any soul; but my conscience would hurt me just as much as if I had stolen money or committed some immorality. To do even a ballad as long as The Dream of the Children, takes months of thought, not about the ballad itself, but to absorb the atmosphere, the special current connected with the subject. When this is done the poem shapes itself readily enough; but without the long, previous brooding it would be no good. So you see, from my slow habit of mind and limited time it is all I can do to place monthly, my copy in the hands of my editor when he comes with a pathetic face to me."

"I have wept a million tears: pure and proud one, where are thine, what the gain though all thy years in unbroken beauty shine? All your beauty cannot win truth we learn in pain and sighs: you can never enter in to the circle of the wise."

"I needed love no words could say; she drew me softly nigh her chair, my head upon her knees to lay, with cool hands that caressed my hair. She sat with hands as if to bless, and looked with grave, ethereal eyes; ensouled by ancient quietness, a gentle priestess of the Wise."