Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Percy Bysshe Shelley

English Romantic Lyric Poet

"To know nor faith, nor love, nor law, to be Omnipotent but friendless, is to reign."

"To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; To forgive wrongs darker than Death or Night; To defy Power, which seems Omnipotent; To love, and bear; to hope, till Hope creates From its own wreck the thing it contemplates; Neither to change nor falter nor repent; This, like thy glory, Titan! is to be Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; This is alone Life; Joy, Empire, and Victory!"

"Twin-sister of Religion, Selfishness! Rival in crime and falsehood, aping all The wanton horrors of her bloody play; Yet frozen, unimpassioned, spiritless, Shunning the light, and owning not its name, Compelled by its deformity to screen With flimsy veil of justice and of right Its unattractive lineaments that scare All save the brood of ignorance; at once The cause and the effect of tyranny; Unblushing, hardened, sensual and vile; Dead to all love but of its abjectness; With heart impassive by more noble powers Than unshared pleasure, sordid gain, or fame; Despising its own miserable being, Which still it longs, yet fears, to disenthrall."

"Tragedy delights by affording a shadow of the pleasure which exists in pain."

"True Love in this differs from gold and clay, That to divide is not to take away. Love is like understanding, that grows bright, Gazing on many truths; 'tis like thy light, Imagination! which from earth and sky, And from the depths of human phantasy, As from a thousand prisms and mirrors, fills The Universe with glorious beams, and kills Error, the worm, with many a sun-like arrow Of its reverberated lightning. Bid them love each other and be blest: And leave the troop which errs, and which reproves, And come and be my guest, — for I am Love's. Mind from its object differs most in this: Evil from good; misery from happiness; The baser from the nobler; the impure And frail, from what is clear and must endure. If you divide suffering and dross, you may Diminish till it is consumed away; If you divide pleasure and love and thought, Each part exceeds the whole; and we know not How much, while any yet remains unshared, Of pleasure may be gained, of sorrow spared: This truth is that deep well, whence sages draw The unenvied light of hope; the eternal law By which those live, to whom this world of life Is as a garden ravaged, and whose strife Tills for the promise of a later birth The wilderness of this Elysian earth. "

"Too mean-spirited and too feeble in resolve to attempt the conquest of their own evil passions, and of the difficulties of the material world, men sought dominion over their fellow-men, as an easy method to gain that apparent majesty and power which the instinct of their nature requires."

"We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon; How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver, Streaking the darkness radiantly!--yet soon Night closes round, and they are lost forever; Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings Give various response to each varying blast, To whose frail frame no second motion brings One mood or modulation like the last. We rest. -- A dream has power to poison sleep; We rise. -- One wandering thought pollutes the day; We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep; Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away: It is the same!--For, be it joy or sorrow, The path of its departure still is free: Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability. "

"War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, the lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade."

"We look before and after, And pine for what is not: Our sincerest laughter With some pain is fraught; Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought… Teach me half the gladness That thy brain must know, Such harmonious madness From my lips would flow The world should listen then — as I am listening now."

"What objects are the fountains Of thy happy strain? What fields, or waves, or mountains? What shapes of sky or plain? What love of thine own kind? What ignorance of pain? "

"Whatever may be his [man's] true and final destination, there is a spirit within him at enmity with nothingness and dissolution (change and extinction). This is the character of all life and being - each is at once the centre and the circumference; the point to which all things are contained. "

"When you understand the degree of attention which the requisitions of your physical nature demand, you will perceive how little labour suffices for their satisfaction. Your Heavenly Father knoweth you have need of these things. The universal Harmony, or Reason, which makes your passive frame of thought its dwelling, in proportion to the purity and majesty of its nature will instruct you, if ye are willing to attain that exalted condition, in what manner to possess all the objects necessary for your material subsistence. All men are to become thus pure and happy. All men are called to participate in the community of Nature's gifts. The man who has fewest bodily wants approaches nearest to the Divine Nature."

"We live and move and think; but we are not the creators of our own origin and existence. We are not the arbiters of every motion of our own complicated nature; we are not the masters of our own imaginations and moods of mental being. There is a Power by which we are surrounded, like the atmosphere in which some motionless lyre is suspended, which visits with its breath our silent chords at will."

"When a thing is said to be not worth refuting you may be sure that either it is flagrantly stupid - in which case all comment is superfluous - or it is something formidable, the very crux of the problem."

"You ought to love all mankind; nay, every individual of mankind. You ought not to love the individuals of your domestic circles less, but to love those who exist beyond it more. Once make the feelings of confidence and of affection universal, and the distinctions of property and power will vanish; nor are they to be abolished without substituting something equivalent in mischief to them, until all mankind shall acknowledge an entire community of rights."

"You would not easily guess All the modes of distress Which torture the tenants of earth; And the various evils, Which like so many devils, Attend the poor souls from their birth."

"A Christian, a Deist, a Turk, and a Jew, have equal rights: they are men and brethren."

"A dream has power to poison sleep."

"A pardlike spirit beautiful and swift ? a love in desolation masked; ? a power girt round with weakness; ? it can scarce uplift the weight of the superincumbent hour; it is a dying lamp, a falling shower, a breaking billow; ? even whilst we speak is it not broken? On the withering flower the killing sun smiles brightly: on a cheek the life can burn in blood, even while the heart may break."

"A God made by man undoubtedly has need of man to make himself known to man."

"A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew, and the young winds fed it with silver dew, and it opened its fan-like leaves to the light, and clothed them beneath the kisses of night."

"A lovely lady, garmented in light from her own beauty."

"A globe of dew filling, in the morning new, some eyed flower, whose young leaves waken on an unimagined world; constellated suns unshaken, orbits measureless are furl'd in that frail and fading sphere, with ten millions gathered there to tremble, gleam and disappear."

"A populous and smoky city."

"A little child born yesterday a thing on mother's milk and kisses fed."

"A moment, then is quenched in a most cold repose."

"A single word even may be a spark of inextinguishable thought"

"Ah! what a divine religion might be found out if charity were really made the principle of it instead of faith."

"Alas! that all we loved of him should be, but for our grief, as if it had not been, and grief itself be mortal! Woe is me! Whence are we, and why are we? of what scene the actors or spectators?"

"Alas! I have nor hope nor health nor peace within nor calm around, nor that content surpassing wealth the sage in meditation found."

"All earthly things but virtue."

"Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone, but grief returns with the revolving year."

"All love is sweet, given or received."

"All things by a law divine In one spirit meet and mingle ? why not I with thine?"

"All the tree-tops lay asleep, like green waves on the sea."

"An established religion turns to deathlike apathy the sublimest ebullitions of most exalted genius, and the spirit-stirring truths of a mind inflamed with the desire of benefiting mankind. It is the characteristic of a cold and tame spirit to imagine that such doctrines as Jesus Christ promulgated are destined to follow the fortunes and share the extinction of a popular religion."

"All were fat; and well they might be in admirable plight, for one by one, and two by two, he tossed them human hearts to chew."

"All that is in my power to honor you."

"And many an ante-natal tomb When butterflies dream of the life to come."

"An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king, ? princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow through public scorn, ? mud from a muddy spring, ? rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know, but leech-like to their fainting country cling, till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow."

"And many more Destructions played in this ghastly masquerade, all disguised, even to the eyes, like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies."

"And bid them love each other and be blest: and leave the troop which errs, and which reproves, and come and be my guest, ? for I am Love's."

"And he wore a kingly crown; and in his grasp a sceptre shone; on his brow this mark I saw ? 'I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!"

"And on the pedestal these words appear: 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away."

"And nearer to the river's trembling edge there grew broad flag-flowers, purple, prankt with white; and starry river buds among the sedge; and floating water-lilies, broad and bright."

"And like a prophetess of May strewed flowers upon the barren way, making the wintry world appear like one on whom thou smilest, dear."

"And on their lids... The baby Sleep is pillowed."

"And others came... Desires and adorations, winged persuasions and veil'd destinies, splendors, and glooms, and glimmering incarnations of hopes and fears, and twilight phantasies; and sorrow, with her family of sighs, and pleasure, blind with tears, led by the gleam of her own dying smile instead of eyes, came in slow pomp; the moving pomp might seem like pageantry of mist on an autumnal stream."

"And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest."

"And so this tree? Oh, that such our death may be!?Died in sleep, and felt no pain, to live in happier form again: from which, beneath Heaven's fairest star, the artist wrought this loved guitar."