English Poet and Prose Writer
Walter Savage Landor
English Poet and Prose Writer
An ingenuous mind feels in unmerited praise the bitterest reproof. If you reject it you are unhappy, if you accept it you are undone.
Consciousness of error is, to a certain extent, a consciousness of understanding; and correction of error is the plainest proof of energy and mastery.
Familiarities are the aphides that imperceptibly suck out the juices intended for the germ of love.
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.
In church they are taught to love God; after church they are practised to love their neighbor.
Little men build up great ones, but the snow colossus soon melts; the good stand under the eye of God, and therefore stand.
Nothing is pleasanter to me than exploring in a library.
A critic is never too severe when he only detects the faults of an author. But he is worse than too severe when, in consequence of this detection, be presumes to place himself on a level with genius.
An Invocation - We are what suns and winds and waters make us; the mountains are our sponsors, and the rills fashion and win their nursling with their smiles. But where the land is dim from tyranny, there tiny pleasures occupy the place of glories and of duties; as the feet of fabled faeries when the sun goes down trip o’er the grass where wrestlers strove by day. Then Justice, call’d the Eternal One above, is more inconstant than the buoyant form that burst into existence from the froth of ever-varying ocean: what is best then becomes worst; what loveliest, most deform’d. The heart is hardest in the softest climes, the passions flourish, the affections die. O thou vast tablet of these awful truths, that fillest all the space between the seas, spreading from Venice’s deserted courts to the Tarentine and Hydruntine mole, what lifts thee up? What shakes thee? ’t is the breath of God. Awake, ye nations! spring to life! Let the last work of his right hand appear fresh with his image, Man.
Fancy is imagination in her youth and adolescence. Fancy is always excursive; imagination, not seldom, is sedate.
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.
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.
O Music! how it grieves me that imprudence, intemperance, gluttony, should open their channels into thy sacred stream.
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.