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The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

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‘A Song’

And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.

‘Song of Wandering Aengus’

You think it horrible that lust and rage Should dance attendance upon my old age;

They were not such a plague when I was young; What else have I to spur me into song?

‘The Spur’

Pythagoras planned it. Why did the people stare? His numbers, though they moved or seemed to move In marble or in bronze, lacked character.

But boys and girls, pale from the imagined love Of solitary beds, knew what they were,

That passion could bring character enough, And pressed at midnight in some public place Live lips upon a plummet-measured face.

No! Greater than Pythagoras, for the men That with a mallet or a chisel modelled these

Calculations that look but casual flesh, put down All Asiatic vague immensities,

And not the banks of oars that swam upon The many-headed foam at Salamis. Europe put off that foam when Phidias

Gave women dreams and dreams their looking glass.

‘The Statues’

When Pearse summoned Cuchulain to his side

What stalked through the Post Office? What intellect, What calculation, number, measurement, replied? We Irish, born into that ancient sect

But thrown upon this filthy modern tide And by its formless spawning, fury wrecked, Climb to our proper dark, that we may trace The lineaments of a plummet-measured face.

‘The Statues’

Swift has sailed into his rest; Savage indignation there Cannot lacerate his breast. Imitate him if you dare,

World-besotted traveller; he Served human liberty.

‘Swift’s Epitaph’.

But where’s the wild dog that has praised his fleas?

‘To a Poet, Who would have Me Praise certain bad Poets, Imitators of His and of Mine’

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days! Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways.

‘To the Rose upon the Rood of Time’

A woman of so shining loveliness

That men threshed corn at midnight by a tress, A little stolen tress.

‘To the Secret Rose’

When shall the stars be blown about the sky, Like the sparks blown out of a smithy, and die? Surely thine hour has come, thy great wind blows, Far off, most secret, and inviolate Rose?

‘To the Secret Rose’

Does the imagination dwell the most Upon a woman won or woman lost? If on the lost, admit you turned aside From a great labyrinth out of pride.

‘The Tower’ pt. 2

Measurement began our might: Forms a stark Egyptian thought, Forms that gentler Phidias wrought. Michaelangelo left a proof

On the Sistine Chapel roof, Where but half-awakened Adam Can disturb globe-trotting Madam Till her bowels are in heat,

Proof that there’s a purpose set Before the secret working mind: Profane perfection of mankind.

‘Under Ben Bulben’ pt. 4

Irish poets, learn your trade, Sing whatever is well made, Scorn the sort now growing up All out of shape from toe to top,

Their unremembering hearts and heads Base-born products of base beds.

Sing the peasantry, and then Hard-riding country gentlemen, The holiness of monks, and after Porter-drinkers’ randy laughter.

‘Under Ben Bulben’ pt. 5

Cast your mind on other days That we in coming days may be Still the indomitable Irishry.

‘Under Ben Bulben’ pt. 5

Under bare Ben Bulben’s head

In Drumcliffe churchyard Yeats is laid. An ancestor was rector there

Long years ago, a church stands near, By the road an ancient cross.

No marble, no conventional phrase; On limestone quarried near the spot By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye On life, on death.

Horseman pass by!

‘Under Ben Bulben’ pt. 6

While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed;

And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness, That I was blesséd and could bless.

‘Vacillation’

When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book And slowly read and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.

How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face. And bending down beside the glowing bars Murmur, a little sad, ‘From us fled Love.

He paced upon the mountains far above, And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.’

‘When You Are Old’

What lively lad most pleasured me

Of all that with me lay?

I answer that I gave my soul

And loved in misery,

But had great pleasure with a lad

That I loved bodily.

Flinging from his arms I laughed To think his passion such

He fancied that I gave a soul Did but our bodies touch,

And laughed upon his breast to think

Beast gave beast as much.

‘A Woman Young and Old’ pt. 9

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.

‘Anima Hominis’ sect. 5 in ‘Essays’ (1924)

In dreams begins responsibility.

‘Responsibilities’ (1914) epigraph

13.5 Jack Yellen 1892-1991

Happy days are here again! The skies above are clear again.

Let us sing a song of cheer again, Happy days are here again!

‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ (1929 song)

I’m the last of the red-hot mamas.

Title of song (1928; popularized by Sophie Tucker)

13.6 Edward Young 1683-1765

Be wise with speed;

A fool at forty is a fool indeed.

‘Love of Fame: The Universal Passion’ (1725-8) Satire 2, l. 281

For who does nothing with a better grace?

‘Love of Fame: The Universal Passion’ (1725-8) Satire 4, l. 86

With skill she vibrates her eternal tongue, For ever most divinely in the wrong.

‘Love of Fame: The Universal Passion’ (1725-8) Satire 6, l. 106

For her own breakfast she’ll project a scheme, Nor take her tea without a stratagem.

‘Love of Fame: The Universal Passion’ (1725-8) Satire 6, l. 187

One to destroy, is murder by the law;

And gibbets keep the lifted hand in awe;

To murder thousands, takes a specious name, War’s glorious art, and gives immortal fame.

‘Love of Fame: The Universal Passion’ (1725-8) Satire 7, l. 55

How commentators each dark passage shun, And hold their farthing candle to the sun.

‘Love of Fame: The Universal Passion’ (1725-8) Satire 7, l. 97.

Tired Nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep! He, like the world, his ready visit pays

Where fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 1’ l. 1

Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne In rayless majesty, now stretches forth

Her leaden sceptre o’er a slumb’ring world.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 1’ l. 18

We take no note of Time But from its Loss.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 1’ l. 55

Be wise to-day; ’tis madness to defer.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 1’ l. 390

Procrastination is the thief of time.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 1’ l. 393

At thirty a man suspects himself a fool; Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan; At fifty chides his infamous delay, Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve; In all the magnanimity of thought

Resolves; and re-resolves; then dies the same.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 1’ l. 417

All men think all men mortal, but themselves.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 1’ l. 424

Beautiful as sweet!

And young as beautiful! and soft as young! And gay as soft! and innocent as gay.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 3’ l. 81

Shall our pale, withered hands be still stretched out, Trembling, at once, with eagerness and age?

With avarice, and convulsions grasping hand? Grasping at air! for what has earth beside? Man wants but little; nor that little, long.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 4’ l. 118.

A God all mercy is a God unjust.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 4’ l. 233

By night an atheist half believes a God.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 5’ l. 176

To know the world, not love her, is thy point, She gives but little, nor that little, long.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 8’ l. 1276

Devotion! daughter of astronomy! An undevout astronomer is mad.

‘The Complaint: Night Thoughts’ (1742-5) ‘Night 9’ l. 769

Life is the desert, life the solitude; Death joins us to the great majority.

‘The Revenge’ (1721) act 4.

You are so witty, profligate, and thin,

At once we think thee Milton, Death, and Sin.

Epigram on Voltaire

13.7 George W. Young 1846-1919

Your lips, on my own, when they printed ‘Farewell’, Had never been soiled by the ‘beverage of hell’; But they come to me now with the bacchanal sign,

And the lips that touch liquor must never touch mine.

‘The Lips That Touch Liquor Must Never Touch Mine’; also attributed, in a different form, to Harriet A. Glazebrook

13.8 Michael Young 1915—

The rise of the meritocracy 1870-2033. Title of book (1958)

13.9 Waldemar Young et al.

We have ways of making men talk.

‘Lives of a Bengal Lancer’ (1935 film; the words became a catch-phrase as ‘We have ways of making you talk’)

14.0Z

14.1Israel Zangwill 1864-1926

Scratch the Christian and you find the pagan—spoiled.

‘Children of the Ghetto’ (1892) bk. 2, ch. 6

America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming!

‘The Melting Pot’ (1908) act 1

14.2 Darryl F. Zanuck 1902-79

For God’s sake don’t say yes until I’ve finished talking.

In Philip French ‘The Movie Moguls’ (1969) ch. 5

14.3 Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919

Muchos de ellos, por complacer a tiranos, por un puñado de monedas, o por cohecho o soborno, est n derramando la sangre de sus hermanos.

Many of them, so as to curry favour with tyrants, for a fistful of coins, or through bribery or

corruption, are shedding the blood of their brothers.

‘Plan de Ayala’ 28 November 1911, para. 10 (referring to the maderistas who, in Zapata’s view, had betrayed the revolutionary cause)

14.4 Frank Zappa 1940—

Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.

In Linda Botts ‘Loose Talk’ (1980) p. 177

14.5 Robert Zemeckis 1952—and Bob Gale 1952—

Back to the future.

Title of film (1985)

14.6 Ronald L. Ziegler 1939—

Reminded of the President’s previous statements that the White House was not involved [in the Watergate affair], Ziegler said that Mr Nixon’s latest statement ‘is the Operative White House Position...and all previous statements are inoperative.’

‘Boston Globe’ 18 April 1973

14.7 Grigori Zinoviev 1883-1936

Armed warfare must be preceded by a struggle against the inclinations to compromise which are embedded among the majority of British workmen, against the ideas of evolution and peaceful extermination of capitalism. Only then will it be possible to count upon complete success of an armed insurrection.

Letter to the British Communist Party, 15 September 1924, in ‘The Times’ 25 October 1924 (the ‘Zinoviev Letter’, said by some to be a forgery: see ‘Listener’ 17 September 1987)

14.8 Èmile Zola 1840-1902

Ne me regardez plus comme ça, parce que vous allez vous user les yeux.

Don’t go on looking at me like that, because you’ll wear your eyes out.

‘La Bête Humaine’ (1889-90) ch. 5 J’accuse.

I accuse

Title of an open letter to the President of the French Republic, in connection with the Dreyfus case, published in L’Aurore 13 January 1898

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