English Poet and Prose Writer
Walter Savage Landor
English Poet and Prose Writer
There is no easy path leading out of life, and few are the easy ones that lie within it.
Was genius ever ungrateful? Mere talents are dry leaves, tossed up and down by gusts of passion, and scattered and swept away; but, Genius lies on the bosom of Memory, and Gratitude at her feet.
A great man knows the value of greatness; he dares not hazard it, he will not squander it.
And about her courts were seen liveried angels robed in green, wearing, by St Patrick's bounty, emeralds big as half the county.
For, surely, surely, where your voice and graces are, nothing of death can any feel or know.
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.
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.
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.
O what a thing is age! Death without death's quiet.
A little praise is good for a shy temper; it teaches it to rely on the kindness of others.
As the pearl ripens in the obscurity of its shell, so ripens in the tomb all the fame that is truly precious.
Cruelty in all countries is the companion of anger; but there is only one, and never was another on the globe, where she coquets both with anger and mirth.
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.
Hope is the mother of faith.
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.
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.
Of all failures, to fail in a witticism is the worst, and the mishap is the more calamitous in a drawn-out and detailed one.
A mercantile democracy may govern long and widely; a mercantile aristocracy cannot stand.
As there are some flowers which you should smell but slightly to extract all that is pleasant in them, and which, if you do otherwise, emit what is unpleasant and noxious, so there are some men with whom a slight acquaintance is quite sufficient to draw out all that is agreeable; a more intimate one would be unsatisfactory and unsafe.
Cruelty is no more the cure of crimes than it is the cure of sufferings. Compassion in the first instance is good for both; I have known it to bring compunction when nothing else would.
Friendship may sometimes step a few paces in advance of truth.
In the very best poetry there is often an under-song of sense which none but the poetic mind… can comprehend.
Modesty, when she goes, is gone forever.