Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Walter Savage Landor

English Poet and Prose Writer

"Harmonious words render ordinary ideas acceptable; less ordinary, pleasant; novel and ingenious ones, delightful. As pictures and statues, and living beauty, too, show better by music-light, so is poetry irradiated, vivified, glorified', and raised into immortal life by harmony."

"He who praises a good book becomingly, is next in merit to the author."

"Heat and animosity, contest and conflict, may sharpen the wits, although they rarely do; they never strengthen the understanding, clear the perspicacity, guide the judgment, or improve the heart."

"Here, ever since you went abroad, if there be change, no change I see, I only walk our wonted road, the road is only walk by me. Yes; I forgot; a change there is; was it of that you bade me tell? I catch at times, at times I miss the sight, the tone, I know so well. Only two months since you stood here! Two shortest months! then tell me why voices are harsher than they were, and tears are longer ere they dry."

"Here, where precipitate Spring with one light bound into hot Summer's lusty arms expires; and where go forth at morn, at eve, at night, soft airs, that want the lute to play with them, and softer sighs, that know not what they want; under a wall, beneath an orange-tree whose tallest flowers could tell the lowlier ones of sights in Fiesole right up above, while I was gazing a few paces off at what they seemed to show me with their nods, their frequent whispers and their pointing shoots, a gentle maid came down the garden-steps and gathered the pure treasure in her lap. I heard the branches rustle, and stept forth to drive the ox away, or mule, or goat, (Such I believed it must be); for sweet scents are the swift vehicles of still sweeter thoughts, and nurse and pillow the dull memory that would let drop without them her best stores. They bring me tales of youth and tones of love, and 'tis and ever was my wish and way to let all flowers live freely, and all die, whene'er their Genius bids their souls depart, among their kindred in their native place. I never pluck the rose; the violet's head hath shaken with my breath upon its bank and not reproacht me; the ever-sacred cup of the pure lily hath between my hands felt safe, unsoil'd, or lost one grain of gold. I saw the light that made the glossy leaves more glossy; the fair arm, the fairer cheek warmed by the eye intent on its pursuit; I saw the foot, that, altho half-erect from its grey slipper, could not lift her up to what she wanted: I held down a branch and gather'd her some blossoms, since their hour was come, and bees had wounded them, and flies of harder wing were working their way thro and scattering them in fragments under foot. So crisp were some, they rattled unevolved, others, ere broken off, fell into shells, for such appear the petals when detacht, unbending, brittle, lucid, white like snow, and like snow not seen thro, by eye or sun: yet every one her gown received from me was fairer than the first . . I thought not so, but so she praised them to reward my care. I said: you find the largest. This indeed, cried she, is large and sweet. She held one forth,whether for me to look at or to take she knew not, nor did I; but taking it would best have solved (and this she felt) her doubts. I dared not touch it; for it seemed a part of her own self; fresh, full, the most mature of blossoms, yet a blossom; with a touch to fall, and yet unfallen. She drew back the boon she tendered, and then, finding not the ribbon at her waist to fix it in, dropt it, as loth to drop it, on the rest."

"Hope is the mother of faith."

"How sweet and sacred idleness is!"

"I am heartily glad to witness your veneration for a book which to say nothing of its holiness or authority, contains more specimens of genius and taste than any other volume in existence."

"I entreat you, Alfred Tennyson, come and share my haunch of venison. I have too a bin of claret, good, but better when you share it. Tho' 'tis only a small bin, there's a stock of it within. And as sure as I'm a rhymer, half a butt of Rudeheimer. Come; among the sons of men is one welcomer than Alfred Tennyson?"

"I feel I am growing old for want of somebody to tell me that I am looking as young as ever. Charming falsehood! There is a vast deal of vital air loving words."

"I have since written what no tide shall ever wash away, what men unborn shall read o'er ocean wide and find Ianthe's name agen."

"I loved him not; and yet now he is gone / I feel I am alone."

"I never did a single wise thing in the whole course of my existence, although I have written many which have been thought so."

"I should entertain a mean opinion of myself if all men, or the most part, praised and admired me; it would prove me to be somewhat like them."

"I sometimes think that the most plaintive ditty has brought a fuller joy and of longer duration to its composer than the conquest of Persia to the Macedonian."

"I strove with none, for none was worth my strife. Nature I loved and, next to Nature, Art: I warm'd both hands before the fire of life; It sinks, and I am ready to depart."

"If there were no falsehood in the world, there would be no doubt; if there were no doubt, there would be no inquiry; if no inquiry, no wisdom, no knowledge, no genius."

"In church they are taught to love God; after church they are practised to love their neighbor."

"In argument, truth always prevails finally; in politics, falsehood always."

"In Clementina’s artless mien Lucilla asks me what I see, and are the roses of sixteen enough for me? Lucilla asks, if that be all, have I not cull’d as sweet before: ah yes, Lucilla! and their fall I still deplore. I now behold another scene, where Pleasure beams with Heaven’s own light, more pure, more constant, are serene, and not less bright. Faith, on whose breast the Loves repose, whose chain of flowers no force can sever, and Modesty who, when she goes, is gone forever."

"In honest truth, a name given to a man is no better than a skin given to him; what is not natively his own falls off and comes to nothing."

"In spring and summer winds may blow, and rains fall after, hard and fast; the tender leaves, if beaten low, shine but the more for shower and blast. But when their fated hour arrives, when reapers long have left the field, when maidens rifle turn'd-up hives, and their last juice fresh apples yield. A leaf perhaps may still remain upon some solitary tree, spite of the wind and of the rain . . . A thing you heed not if you see. At last it falls. Who cares? Not one: and yet no power on earth can ever replace the fallen leaf upon its spray, so easy to dissever. If such be love, I dare not say. Friendship is such, too well I know: I have enjoyed my summer day; 'tis past; my leaf now lies below."

"In the very best poetry there is often an under-song of sense which none but the poetic mind… can comprehend."

"It appears to be among the laws of nature, that the mighty of intellect should be pursued and carped by the little, as the solitary flight of one great bird is followed by the twittering petulance of many smaller."

"It is delightful to kiss the eyelashes of the beloved--is it not? But never so delightful as when fresh tears are on them."

"Joining in the amusements of others is, in our social state, the next thing to sympathy in their distresses, and even the slenderest bond that holds society together should rather be strengthened than snapt."

"Justice is often pale and melancholy; but Gratitude, her daughter, is constantly in the flow of spirits and the bloom of loveliness."

"Kings play at war unfairly with republics; they can only lose some earth, and some creatures they value as little, while republics lose in every soldier a part of themselves."

"Kingship is a profession which has produced both the most illustrious and the most contemptible of the human race."

"Lanthe! you are call'd to cross the sea! A path forbidden me! Remember, while the Sun his blessing sheds upon the mountain-heads, how often we have watcht him laying down his brow, and dropt our own against each other's, and how faint and short and sliding the support! What will succeed it now? Mine is unblest, Lanthe! nor will rest but on the very thought that swells with pain. O bid me hope again! O give me back what Earth, what (without you) not Heaven itself can do--One of the golden days that we have past, and let it be my last! Or else the gift would be, however sweet, fragile and incomplete."

"Lately our poets loiter'd in green lanes, content to catch the ballads of the plains; I fancied I had strength enough to climb a loftier station at no distant time, and might securely from intrusion doze upon the flowers thro' which Ilissus flows. In those pale olive grounds all voices cease, and from afar dust fills the paths of Greece. My sluber broken and my doublet torn, I find the laurel also bears a thorn."

"Let me take up your metaphor. Friendship is a vase, which, when it is flawed by heat or violence or accident, may as well be broken at once; it can never be trusted after. The more graceful and ornamental it was, the more clearly do we discern the hopelessness of restoring it to its former state. Coarse stones, if they are fractured, may be cemented again; precious stones, never."

"Life (priest and poet say) is but a dream; I wish no happier one than to be laid beneath a cool syringa’s scented shade, or wavy willow, by the running stream, brimful of moral, where the dragon-fly, wanders as careless and content as I. Thanks for this fancy, insect king, of purple crest and filmy wing, who with indifference givest up the water-lily’s golden cup, to come again and overlook what I am writing in my book. Believe me, most who read the line will read with hornier eyes than thine; and yet their souls shall live forever, and thine drop dead into the river! God pardon them, O insect king, who fancy so unjust a thing!"

"Literature is the effort of man to indemnify himself for the wrongs of his condition."

"Little men build up great ones, but the snow colossus soon melts; the good stand under the eye of God, and therefore stand."

"Many laws as certainly make bad men, as bad men make many laws."

"Merit has rarely risen of itself, but a pebble or a twig is often quite sufficient for it to spring from to the highest ascent. There is usually some baseness before there is any elevation."

"Mild is the parting year, and sweet the odour of the falling spray; life passes on more rudely fleet, and balmless is its closing day. I wait its close, I court its gloom, but mourn that never must there fall or on my breast or on my tomb the tear that would have soothed it all."

"Modesty, when she goes, is gone forever."

"Mother, I cannot mind my wheel; my fingers ache, my lips are dry: oh! if you felt the pain I feel! But oh, who ever felt as I? No longer could I doubt him true; all other men may use deceit: he always said my eyes were blue, and often swore my lips were sweet."

"Mother, I cannot mind my wheel; my fingers ache, my lips are dry:"

"Music is God's gift to man, the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven."

"My slumber broken and my doublet torn, I find the laurel also bears a thorn."

"My thoughts are my company; I can bring them together, select them, detain them, dismiss them."

"Nations, like individuals, interest us in their growth."

"No ashes are lighter than those of incense, and few things burn out sooner."

"No friendship is so cordial or so delicious as that of girl for girl; no hatred so intense and immovable as that of woman for woman."

"No good writer was ever long neglected; no great man overlooked by men equally great. Impatience is a proof of inferior strength, and a destroyer of what little there may be."

"No longer could I doubt him true all other men may use deceit; he always said my eyes were blue, and often swore my lips were sweet."

"No truer word, save God's, was ever spoken,"