Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

John Denham, fully Sir John Denham

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

"Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals."

"Be just in all thy actions, and if join’d with those that are not, never change thy mind."

"All human wisdom, to divine, is folly."

"Whatsoever is worthy of their love is worth their anger."

"Anticipate our sorrows? 'Tis like those that die for fear of death."

"O happiness of blindness! now no beauty Inflames my lust; no other's goods my envy, Or misery my pity; no man's wealth Draws my respect; nor poverty my scorn, Yet still I see enough! man to himself Is a large prospect, raised above the level Of his low creeping thoughts; if then I have A world within myself, that world shall be My empire; there I'll reign, commanding freely, And willingly obey'd, secure from fear Of foreign forces, or domestic treasons."

"'T is in worldly accidents, As in the world itself, where things most distant Meet one another: Thus the east and west, Upon the globe a mathematical point Only divides: Thus happiness and misery, And all extremes, are still contiguous."

"The spring, like youth, fresh blossoms doth produce, But autumn makes them ripe and fit for use: So Age a mature mellowness doth set On the green promises of youthful heat."

"Sure there are poets which did never dream Upon Parnassus, nor did taste the stream Of Helicon; we therefore may suppose Those made not poets, but the poets those."

"Actions of the last age are like almanacs of the last year."

"And doubt, a greater mischief than despair."

"Books should to one of these fours ends conduce, for wisdom, piety, delight, or use."

"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."

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

"Darkness our guide, Despair our leader was."

"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."

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

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

"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."

"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."

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

"Man's that savage beast whose mind, from reason to self-love declined, delights to prey upon his kind."

"More in prosperity is reason tost than ships in storms, their helms and anchors lost."

"Night was our friend, our leader was Despair."

"Nor ought a genius less than his that writ attempt translation."

"Nothing happens until something moves."

"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."

"O happiness of sweet retir'd content! To be at once secure and innocent."

"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."

"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."

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

"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."

"Rashness and haste make all things insecure."

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

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

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

"Such was the force of his eloquence, to make the hearers more concerned than h he that spake."

"Sure there are poets which did never dream Upon Parnassus, nor did taste the stream Of Helicon; we therefore may suppose Those made not poets, but the poets those."

"Thames, the most loved of all the Ocean’s sons, By his old sire, to his embraces runs, Hasting to pay his tribute to the Sea, Like mortal life to meet eternity."

"The age, wherein he lived was dark; but he could not want sight, who taught the world to see."

"The harmony of things, as well as that of sound, from discord springs."

"The man who first abused his fellows with swear-words instead of bashing their brains out with a club should be counted among those who laid the foundations of civilization."

"The three first parts I dedicate to my old friends, to take off those melancholy reflections which the sense of age, infirmity, and death may give them."

"There are certain garbs and modes of speaking which vary with the times; the fashion of our clothes being not more subject to alteration than that of our speech."

"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."

"'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."

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

"We are never like angels till our passion dies."

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

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