William Morris


English Poet, Artist, Textile Designer, Libertarian Socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Author Quotes

A pattern is either right or wrong.... It is no stronger than its weakest point.

Beauty, which is what is meant by art, using the word in its widest sense, is, I contend, no mere accident to human life, which people can take or leave as they choose, but a positive necessity of life.

Folk say, a wizard to a northern king at Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show, that through one window men beheld the spring, and through another saw the summer glow, and through a third the fruited vines a-row, while still, unheard, but in its wonted way, piped the drear wind of that December day. So with this Earthly Paradise it is, if ye will read aright, and pardon me, who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss midmost the beating of the steely sea, where tossed about all hearts of men must be; whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay, not the poor singer of an empty day.

History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed Art has remembered the people, because they created.

If our houses, or clothes, our household furniture and utensils are not works of art, they are either wretched makeshifts, or, what is worse, degrading shams of better things.

Let dead hearts tarry and trade and marry, and trembling nurse their dreams of mirth, while we the living our lives are giving to bring the bright new world to birth.

Memory and imagination help a man as he works. Not only his own thoughts, but the thoughts of the men of past ages guide his hands and, as part of the human race, he creates.

Of rich men it telleth, and strange is the story how they have, and they hanker, and grip far and wide And they live and they die, and the earth and its glory has been but a burden they scarce might abide.

The attitude of the judiciary to (young hackers) must change it must be 'that guy can cause havoc to international commerce and wreck a perfectly legitimate business'.

The wind is not helpless for any man's need, nor falleth the rain but for thistle and weed.

Today it is prosperity that is externally ugly... we sit starving amidst our gold, the Midas of the Ages.

Wilt thou not save me? once in every year this rightful form of mine that thou dost see by favour of the Goddess have I here from sunrise unto sunset given me, that some brave man may end my misery. And thou — art thou not brave? can thy heart fail, whose eyes e'en now are weeping at my tale?

A queen I was, what Gods I knew I loved, and nothing evil was there in my thought, and yet by love my wretched heart was moved until to utter ruin I was brought! Alas! thou sayest our gods were vain and nought, wait, wait, till thou hast heard this tale of mine, then shalt thou think them devilish or divine.

Boundless risk must pay for boundless gain.

For Queen Diana did my body change into a fork-tongued dragon flesh and fell, and through the island nightly do I range, or in the green sea mate with monsters strange, when in the middle of the moonlit night the sleepy mariner I do affright.

I cannot suppose there is anybody here who would think it either a good life, or an amusing one, to sit with one's hands before one doing nothing - to live like a gentleman, as fools call it.

If there is a reason for keeping the wall very quiet, choose a pattern that works all over without pronounced lines.... Put very succinctly, architectural effect depends upon a nice balance of horizontal, vertical and oblique. No rules can say how much of each; so nothing can really take the place of feeling and good judgment.

Let us speak, love, together some words of our story, that our lips as they part may remember the glory! O soft day, o calm day, made clear for our sake!

Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of defeat, and when it comes it turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name

One man with an idea in his head is in danger of being considered a madman two men with the same idea in common may be foolish, but can hardly be mad ten men sharing an idea begin to act, a hundred draw attention as fanatics, a thousand and society begins to tremble, a hundred thousand and there is war abroad, and the cause has victories tangible and real and why only a hundred thousand Why not a hundred million and peace upon the earth You and I who agree together, it is we who have to answer that question.

The business of a statesman is to balance the greed and fears of the proprietary class against the necessities of the working class. This is a very sorry business, and leads to all kinds of trickery and evasion ; so that it is more than doubtful whether a statesman can be a moderately honest man.

The word Revolution, which we Socialists are so often forced to use, has a terrible sound in most people's ears, even when we have explained to them that it does not necessarily mean a change accompanied by riot and all kinds of violence, and cannot mean a change made mechanically and in the teeth of opinion by a group of men who have somehow managed to seize on the executive power for the moment. Even when we explain that we use the word revolution in its etymological sense, and mean by it a change in the basis of society, people are scared at the idea of such a vast change, and beg that you will speak of reform and not revolution. As, however, we Socialists do not at all mean by our word revolution what these worthy people mean by their word reform, I can't help thinking that it would be a mistake to use it, whatever projects we might conceal beneath its harmless envelope. So we will stick to our word, which means a change of the basis of society; it may frighten people, but it will at least warn them that there is something to be frightened about, which will be no less dangerous for being ignored; and also it may encourage some people, and will mean to them at least not a fear, but a hope.

Unless you have a certain amount of money you shall not be allowed the exercise of the social virtues : sentiment, affection, good manners, intelligence even, to you shall be mere words; you shall be less than men, because you are needed as machines.

Wind, wind thou art sad, art thou kind wind, wind, unhappy thou art blind, yet still thou wanderest the lily-seed to find.

A world made to be lost, — A bitter life 'twixt pain and nothing tost.

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English Poet, Artist, Textile Designer, Libertarian Socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood