Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Cullen Bryant

American Poet, Critic, Editor

"Remorse is virtue's root; its fair increase are fruits of innocence and blessedness."

"Self-interest is the most ingenious and persuasive of all the agents that deceive our consciences, while by means of it our unhappy and stubborn prejudices operate in their greatest force."

"All that tread the globe are but a handful to the tribes that slumber in its bosom."

"Look on this beautiful world, and read the truth in her fair page."

"Much has been said of the wisdom of old age. Old age is wise, I grant, for itself, but not wise for the community. It is wise in declining new enterprises, for it has not the power nor the time to execute them; wise in shrinking from difficulty, for it has not the strength to overcome it; wise in avoiding danger, for it lacks the faculty of ready and swift action, by which dangers are parried and converted into advantages. But this is not wisdom for mankind at large, by whom new enterprises must be undertaken, dangers met, and difficulties surmounted."

"Poetry is that art which selects and arranges the symbols of thought in such a manner as to excite the imagination the most powerfully and delightfully."

"The groves were God’s first temples."

"The press, important as is its office, is but the servant of the human intellect, and its ministry is for good or for evil, according to the character of those who direct it. The press is a mill which grinds all that is put into its hopper. Fill he hopper with poisoned grain, and it will grind it to meal, but there is death in the bread."

"Truth gets well if she is run over by a locomotive, while error dies of lockjaw if she scratches her finger."

"War, like other situations of danger and of change, calls for the exertion of admirable intellectual qualities and great virtues, and it is only by dwelling on these, and keeping out of sight the sufferings and sorrows, and all the crimes and evils that follow in its train, that it has its glory in the eyes of man."

"A breeze came wandering from the sky, light as the whispers of a dream; he put the o'erhanging grasses by, and softly stooped to kiss the stream, the pretty stream, the flattered stream, the shy, yet unreluctant stream."

"A melancholy sound is in the air, A deep sigh in the distance, a shrill wail Around my dwelling. 'Tis the wind of night."

"A sculptor wields the chisel, and the stricken marble grows to beauty."

"A stable, changeless state, 'twere cause indeed to weep."

"Ah, never shall the land forget how gush'd the life-blood of the brave, gush'd warm with hope and courage yet, upon the soil they fought to save!"

"Ah, passing few are they who speak, wild, stormy month! In praise of thee; yet though thy winds are loud and bleak, thou art a welcome month to me. For thou, to northern lands, again the glad and glorious sun dost bring, and thou hast joined the gentle train and wear'st the gentle name of spring."

"Ah, why should we, in the world's riper years, neglect God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore only among the crowd and under roofs that our frail hands have raised?"

"Alas! to seize the moment When the heart inclines to heart, And press a suit with passion, Is not a woman's part. If man come not to gather The roses where they stand, They fade among their foliage, They cannot seek his hand."

"All at once a fresher wind sweeps by, and breaks my dream, and I am in the wilderness alone."

"All things that are on earth shall wholly pass away, Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye."

"And at my silent window-sill the jessamine peeps in."

"And kind the voice and glad the eyes that welcome my return at night."

"And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles on the dewy earth that smiles in his ray, on the leaping waters and gay young isles; ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away."

"And now, when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come, to call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home; when the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still, and twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill, the south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore, and sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more."

"And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more."

"And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief, and the year smiles as it draws near its death."

"And the blue gentian-flower, that, in the breeze, Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last."

"And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood."

"And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died, the fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side."

"And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief."

"And wrath has left its scar -- that fire of hell has left its frightful scar upon my soul."

"Another hand thy sword shall wield, another hand the standard wave, till from the trumpet's mouth is pealed the blast of triumph o'er thy grave."

"Autumn is here; we cull his lingering flowers. The sweet calm sunshine of October, now Warms the low spot; upon its grass mold The purple oak-leaf falls; the birchen bough Drops its bright spoil like arrow-heads of gold."

"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile."

"Ay, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath! When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf, and suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief, and the year smiles as it draws near its death."

"Beautiful isles! beneath the sunset skies tall, silver-shafted palm-trees rise, between full orange-trees that shade the living colonade."

"But I behold a fearful sign, to which the white men's eyes are blind; their race may vanish hence, like mine, and leave no trace behind, save ruins o'er the region spread, and the white stones above the dead."

"But if, around my place of sleep, the friends I love should come to weep, they might not haste to go. Soft airs, and song, and light, and bloom should keep them lingering by my tomb."

"But 'neath yon crimson tree Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame, Nor mark, within its roseate canopy, Her blush of maiden shame."

"By eloquence I understand those appeals to our moral perceptions that produce emotion as soon as they are uttered. This is the very enthusiasm that is the parent of poetry. Let the same man go to his closet and clothe in numbers conceptions full of the same fire and spirit, and they will be poetry."

"Can anything be imagined more abhorrent to every sentiment of generosity and justice, than the law which arms the rich with the legal right to fix, by assize, the wages of the poor? If this is not slavery, we have forgotten its definition. Strike the right of associating for the sale of labor from the privileges of a freeman, and you may as well bind him to a master, or ascribe him to the soil."

"Chained in the market-place he stood, a man of giant frame, amid the gathering multitude that shrunk to hear his name."

"Childhood, with all its mirth, youth, manhood, age that draws us to the ground, and last, man's life on earth, glide to thy dim dominions, and are bound."

"Come when the rains have glazed the snow and clothed the trees with ice, while the slant sun of February pours into the bowers a flood of light. Approach! The incrusted surface shall upbear thy steps and the broad arching portals of the grove welcome thy entering."

"Death should come gently to one of gentle mold, like thee, as light winds, wandering through groves of bloom, detach the delicate blossoms from the tree, close thy sweet eyes calmly, and without pain, and we will trust in god to see thee yet again."

"Deep in the brightness of the skies the thronging years in glory rise. And, as they fleet, drop strength and riches at thy feet."

"Difficulty, my brethren, is the nurse of greatness -- a harsh nurse, who roughly rocks her foster-children into strength and athletic proportion. The mind grappling with great aims and wrestling with mighty ingredients, grows, by certain necessity, to their stature. Scarce anything so convinces me of the capacity of the human intellect for indefinite expansion in the different stages of its being, as this power of enlarging itself to the compass of surrounding emergencies."

"Do not the bright June roses blow to meet thy kiss at morning hours?"

"Eloquence is the poetry of prose."

"Ere, in the northern gale, The summer tresses of the trees are gone, The woods of Autumn, all around our vale, Have put their glory on."