Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Thomas Bailey

American Author, Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Travel Writer and Editor

Author Quotes

The Summer comes and the Summer goes; wild-flowers are fringing the dusty lanes, the shallows go darting through fragrant rains, then, all of a sudden--it snows.

We shall get on famously...and be capital friends forever.

Come watch with me the shaft of fire that glows in yonder West: the fair, frail palaces, the fading Alps and archipelagoes, and great cloud-continents of sunset-seas.

I hope he and she that was Miss Wang Wang are very happy together, sitting cross-legged over diminutive cups of tea in a sky-blue tower hung with bells.

Or light or dark, or short or tall, she sets a spring to snare them all; all's one to her--above her fan, she'd make sweet eyes at Caliban.

The thing one reads and likes, and then forgets, is of no account. The thing that stays, and haunts one, and refuses to be forgotten, that is the sincere thing.

We visit... a neighboring grave-yard. I am by this time in a condition of mind to become a willing inmate of the place.

Conway would give me no rest until I fought him. I felt it was ordained ages before our birth that we should meet on this planet and fight.

I like not lady-slippers, not yet the sweet-pea blossoms, not yet the flaky roses, red or white as snow; I like the chaliced lilies, the heavy Eastern lilies, the gorgeous tiger-lilies, that in our garden grow.

Shakespeare is forever coming into our affairs -- putting in his oar, so to speak -- with some pat word or sentence.

The unchecked thought wanders at will upon enchanted ground, making no sound in all the corridors? The bell sleeps in the belfry--from its tongue a drowsy murmur floats into the air, like thistle-down. Slumber is everywhere. The rook's asleep, and, in its dreaming, caws; and silence mopes where nightingales have sung; the Sirens lie in grottos cool and deep, the Naiads in the streams.

We vivisect the nightingale to probe the secret of his note.

Day is a snow-white Dove of heaven that from the East glad message brings.

I like to have a thing suggested rather than told in full. When every detail is given, the mind rests satisfied, and the imagination loses the desire to use its own wings. The partly draped statue has a charm which the nude lacks. Who would have those marble folds slip from the raised knee of the Venus of Melos?

Since Eden's freshness and man's fall, no rose has been original.

The walking delegates of a higher civilization, who have nothing to divide, look upon the notion of property as a purely artificial creation of human society. According to these advanced philosophers, the time will come when no man shall be allowed to call anything his. The beneficent law which takes away an author's rights in his own books just at the period when old age is creeping upon him seems to me a handsome stride toward the longed-for millennium.

We weep when we are born, not when we die!

Song From The Persian -
Ah, sad are they who know not love,
But, far from passion's tears and smiles,
Drift down a moonless sea, beyond
The silvery coasts of fairy isles.

And sadder they whose longing lips
Kiss empty air, and never touch
The dear warm mouth of those they love --
Waiting, wasting, suffering much.

But clear as amber, fine as musk,
Is life to those who, pilgrim-wise,
Move hand in hand from dawn to dusk,
Each morning nearer Paradise.

Ah, not for them shall angels pray!
They stand in everlasting light,
They walk in Allah's smile by day,
And slumber in his heart by night.

That face which no man ever saw
And from his memory banished quite,
With eyes in which are Hamlet's awe
And Cardinal Richelieu's subtle light,
Looks from this frame. A master's hand
Has set the master player here,
In the fair temple that he planned
Not for himself. To us most dear
This image of him! "It was thus
He looked; such pallor touched his cheek;
With that same grace he greeted us--
Nay, 't is the man, could it but speak!"
Sad words that shall be said some day--
Far fall the day! O cruel Time,
Whose breath sweeps mortal things away,
Spare long this image of his prime,
That others standing in the place
Where, save as ghosts, we come no more,
May know what sweet majestic face
The gentle Prince of Players wore!

My mind lets go a thousand things,
Like dates of wars and deaths of kings,
And yet recalls the very hour--
'T was noon by yonder village tower,
And on the last blue noon in May--
The wind came briskly up this way,
Crisping the brook beside the road;
Then, pausing here, set down its load
Of pine-scents, and shook listlessly
Two petals from that wild-rose tree.

I held his letter in my hand,
And even while I read
The lightning flashed across the land
The word that he was dead.

How strange it seemed! His living voice
Was speaking from the page
Those courteous phrases, tersely choice,
Light-hearted, witty, sage.

I wondered what it was that died!
The man himself was here,
His modesty, his scholar's pride,
His soul serene and clear.

These neither death nor time shall dim,
Still this sad thing must be--
Henceforth I may not speak to him,
Though he can speak to me!

Somewhere --in desolate wind-swept space--
In Twilight-land--in No-man's land--
Two hurrying Shapes met face to face,
And bade each other stand.

"And who are you?" cried one a-gape,
Shuddering in the gloaming light.
"I know not," said the second Shape,
"I only died last night!"

The folk who lived in Shakespeare's day
And saw that gentle figure pass
By London Bridge, his frequent way--
They little knew what man he was.

The pointed beard, the courteous mien,
The equal port to high and low,
All this they saw or might have seen--
But not the light behind the brow!

The doublet's modest gray or brown,
The slender sword-hilt's plain device,
What sign had these for prince or clown?
Few turned, or none, to scan him twice.

Yet 't was the King of England's kings!
The rest with all their pomps and trains
Are mouldered, half-remembered things--
'T is he alone that lives and reigns!

Fredericksburg -
The increasing moonlight drifts across my bed,
And on the churchyard by the road, I know
It falls as white and noiselessly as snow. . . .
'T was such a night two weary summers fled;
The stars, as now, were waning overhead.
Listen! Again the shrill-lipped bugles blow
Where the swift currents of the river flow
Past Fredericksburg; far off the heavens are red
With sudden conflagration; on yon height,
Linstock in hand, the gunners hold their breath;
A signal rocket pierces the dense night,
Flings its spent stars upon the town beneath:
Hark!--the artillery massing on the right,
Hark!--the black squadrons wheeling down to Death!

Echo Song -
Who can say where Echo dwells?
In some mountain-cave, methinks,
Where the white owl sits and blinks;
Or in deep sequestered dells,
Where foxglove hangs its bells,
Echo dwells.

Phantom of the crystal Air,
Daughter of sweet Mystery!
Here is one has need of thee;
Lead him to thy secret lair,
Myrtle brings he for thy hair--
Hear his prayer,

Echo lift thy drowsy head,
And repeat each charmëd word
Thou must needs have overheard
Yestere'en ere, rosy-red,
Daphne down the valley fled--
Words unsaid,

Breathe the vows she since denies!
She hath broken every vow;
What she would she would not now--
Thou didst hear her perjuries.
Whisper, whilst I shut my eyes,
Those sweet lies,

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Thomas Bailey
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American Author, Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Travel Writer and Editor