John Denham, fully Sir John Denham

John
Denham, fully Sir John Denham
1615
1669

English Poet and Courtier, Surveyor of the King's Works

Author Quotes

But whither am I strayed? I need not raise Trophies to thee from other men's dispraise; Nor is thy fame on lesser ruins built; Nor needs thy juster title the foul guilt Of Eastern kings, who, to secure their reign, Must have their brothers, sons, and kindred slain.

O, could I flow like thee! and make thy stream My great example, as it is my theme; Though deep yet clear, though gentle yet not dull; Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.

Though with those streams he no resemblance hold, Whose foam is amber and their gravel gold; His genuine and less guilty wealth t' explore, Search not his bottom, but survey his shore.

Clear-sighted reason, wisdom's judgment leads; and sense, her vassal, in her footsteps treads.

Old Mother Wit, and Nature gave Shakespeare and Fletcher all they have; In Spenser, and in Jonson, Art, Of slower Nature got the start. ‘On Mr Abraham Cowley’ Such is our pride, our folly, or our fate, That few, but such as cannot write, translate.

'Tis the most certain sign, the world's accurst That the best things corrupted, are the worst; 'Twas the corrupted Light of knowledge, hurl'd Sin, Death, and Ignorance o'er all the world; That Sun like this (from which our sight we have) Gaz'd on too long, resumes the light he gave.

Darkness our guide, Despair our leader was.

People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.

Uncertain ways unsafest are, And doubt a greater mischief than despair.

Expect not more from servants than is just; Reward them well, if they observe their trust, Nor with them cruelty or pride invade; Since God and nature them our brothers made.

Poetry is of so subtle a spirit that in the pouring out of one language into another it will all evaporate; and if a new spirit be not added in the transfusion there will remain nothing but a caput mortuum.

We are never like angels till our passion dies.

From Egypt arts their progress made to Greece, wrapped in the fable of the golden fleece.

Rashness and haste make all things insecure.

When any great design thou dost intend, think on the means, the manner, and the end.

Human beings must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.

Scaliger, comparing the two orators, says that nothing can be taken from Demosthenes nor added to Tully.

When by a pardoned murderer blood is spilt, the judge that pardoned hath the greatest guilt.

I kept on digging the hole deeper and deeper looking for the treasure chest until I finally lifted my head, looked up and realized that I had dug my own grave.

Search not to find things too deeply hid; nor try to know things whose knowledge is forbid.

When wealthy, show thy wisdom not to be to wealth a servant, but make wealth serve thee.

If a heathen philosopher brings up arguments from reason, which none of our atheistical sophisters can confute, for the immortality of the soul, I hope they will so weigh the consequences as neither to talk nor live as if there was no such thing.

So few translations deserve praise, that I scarce ever saw any which deserved pardon.

Who fears not to do ill fears the name, And free from conscience, is a slave to fame.

In age to wish for youth is full as vain as far a youth to turn a child again.

Author Picture
First Name
John
Last Name
Denham, fully Sir John Denham
Birth Date
1615
Death Date
1669
Bio

English Poet and Courtier, Surveyor of the King's Works