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The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

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I have desired to go Where springs not fail,

To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be Where no storms come,

Where the green swell is in the havens dumb, And out of the swing of the sea.

‘Heaven-Haven’ (written 1864)

What would the world be, once bereft Of wet and wildness? Let them be left, O let them be left, wildness and wet;

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

‘Inversnaid’ (written 1881)

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief, More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring. Comforter, where, where is your comforting?

‘No worst, there is none’ (written 1885)

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap May who ne’er hung there.

‘No worst, there is none’ (written 1885)

Here! creep,

Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

‘No worst, there is none’ (written 1885)

Glory be to God for dappled things.

‘Pied Beauty’ (written 1877)

All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.

‘Pied Beauty’ (written 1877)

The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush With richness.

‘Spring’ (written 1877)

Márgarét, áre you gríeving Over Goldengrove unleaving?

‘Spring and Fall: to a young child’ (written 1880)

Áh! ás the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder By and by, not spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; And yet you will weep and know why.

‘Spring and Fall: to a young child’ (written 1880)

It ís the blight man was born for, It is Margaret you mourn for.

‘Spring and Fall: to a young child’ (written 1880)

Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies! O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air! The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!

‘The Starlight Night’ (written 1877)

Ah well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize.

Buy then! bid then!—What?—Prayer, patience, alms, vows. Look, look: a May-mess, like on orchard boughs!

Look! March-bloom, like on mealed-with-yellow sallows! These are indeed the barn; withindoors house

The shocks. This piece-bright paling shuts the spouse Christ home, Christ and his mother and all his hallows.

‘The Starlight Night’ (written 1877)

I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am, and

This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond, Is immortal diamond.

‘That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire’ (written 1888)

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.

Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must Disappointment all I endeavour end?

‘Thou art indeed just, Lord’ (written 1889)

Birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,

Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes. Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

‘Thou art indeed just, Lord’ (written 1889)

I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon.

‘The Windhover’ (written 1877)

My heart in hiding

Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

‘The Windhover’ (written 1877)

I did say yes

O at lightning and lashed rod;

Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess Thy terror, O Christ, O God.

‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’ (written 1876) pt. 1, st. 2

How a lush-kept plush-capped sloe Will, mouthed to flesh-burst,

Gush!—flush the man, the being with it, sour or sweet, Brim, in a flash, full!

‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’ (written 1876) pt. 1, st. 8

8.138 Joseph Hopkinson 1770-1842

Hail, Columbia! happy land!

Hail, ye heroes! heaven-born band!

‘Hail, Columbia!’ in ‘Porcupine’s Gazette’ 20 April 1798

8.139 Horace 65-8 B.C.

Ut turpiter atrum

Desinat in piscem mulier formosa superne.

So that what is a beautiful woman on top ends in a black and ugly fish.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 3

‘Pictoribus atque poetis

Quidlibet audendi semper fuit aequa potestas.’

Scimus, et hanc veniam petimusque damusque vicissim.

‘Painters and poets alike have always had licence to dare anything.’ We know that, and we

both claim and permit others this indulgence.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 9

Inceptis gravibus plerumque et magna professis Purpureus, late qui splendeat, unus et alter Adsuitur pannus.

Works of serious purpose and grand promises often have a purple patch or two stitched on, to

shine far and wide.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 14

Brevis esse laboro, Obscurus fio.

I strive to be brief, and I become obscure.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 25

Dixeris egregie notum si callida verbum

Reddiderit iunctura novum.

You will have written exceptionally well if, by skilful arrangement of your words, you have

made an ordinary one seem original.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 47

Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere, cadentque Quae nunc sunt in honore vocabula, si volet usus, Quem penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi.

Many terms which have now dropped out of favour will be revived, and those that are at present respectable will drop out, if usage so choose, with whom lies the decision, the judgement,

and the rule of speech.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 70

Grammatici certant et adhuc sub iudice lis est.

Scholars dispute, and the case is still before the courts.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 78

Proicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba.

Throws aside his paint-pots and his words a foot and a half long.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 97

Si vis me flere, dolendum est Primum ipsis tibi.

If you want me to weep, you must first feel grief yourself.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 102

Difficile est proprie communia dicere.

It is hard to utter common notions in an individual way.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 128

Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

Mountains will go into labour, and a silly little mouse will be born.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 139

Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem Cogitat.

His thinking does not produce smoke after the flame, but light after smoke.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 143

Semper ad eventum festinat et in medias res Non secus ac notas auditorem rapit.

He always hurries to the main event and whisks his audience into the middle of things as

though they knew already.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 148

Difficilis, querulus, laudator temporis acti Se puero, castigator censorque minorum.

Tiresome, complaining, a praiser of past times, when he was a boy, a castigator and censor of

the young generation.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 173

Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci, Lectorem delectando pariterque monendo.

He has gained every point who has mixed profit with pleasure, by delighting the reader at the

same time as instructing him.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 343

Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis Offendar maculis.

When many beauties grace a poem, I shall not take offence at a few faults.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 351

Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.

I’m aggrieved when sometimes even excellent Homer nods.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 359

Ut pictura poesis.

A poem is like a painting.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 361

Mediocribus esse poetis

Non homines, non di, non concessere columnae.

Not gods, nor men, nor even booksellers have put up with poets being second-rate.

‘Ars Poetica’ l. 372

Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri,

Quo me cumque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.

Not bound to swear allegiance to any master, wherever the wind takes me I travel as a visitor.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 1, l. 14. Nullius in verba is the motto of the Royal Society

Condicio dulcis sine pulvere palmae.

The happy state of winning the palm without the dust of racing.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 1, l. 51

Si possis recte, si non, quocumque modo rem.

If possible honestly, if not, somehow, make money.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 1, l. 66

Olim quod vulpes aegroto cauta leoni Respondit referam: ‘quia me vestigia terrent, Omnia te adversum spectantia, nulla retrorsum.’

Let me remind you what the wary fox said once upon a time to the sick lion: ‘Because those footprints scare me, all directed your way, none coming back.’

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 1, l. 73 (explaining why he did not follow popular opinion)

Quidquid delirant reges plectuntur Achivi.

Whatever madness their kings commit, the Greeks take the beating.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 2, l. 14

Nos numerus sumus et fruges consumere nati.

We are just statistics, born to consume resources.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 2, l. 27

Dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude.

To have begun is half the job: be bold and be sensible.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 2, l. 40

Ira furor brevis est.

Anger is a short madness.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 2, l. 62

Omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum. Grata superveniet quae non sperabitur hora. Me pinguem et nitidum bene curata cute vises Cum ridere voles Epicuri de grege porcum.

Believe each day that has dawned is your last. Some hour to which you have not been looking forward will prove lovely. As for me, if you want a good laugh, you will come and find me fat

and sleek, in excellent condition, one of Epicurus’s herd of pigs.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 4, l. 13

Nil admirari prope res est una, Numici, Solaque quae possit facere et servare beatum.

To marvel at nothing is just about the one and only thing, Numicius, that can make a man

happy and keep him that way.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 6, l. 1

Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret.

You may drive out nature with a pitchfork, yet she’ll be constantly running back.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 10, l. 24

Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt. Strenua nos exercet inertia: navibus atque Quadrigis petimus bene vivere. Quod petis hic est, Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit aequus.

They change their clime, not their frame of mind, who rush across the sea. We strain at achieving nothing: we seek happiness in boats and carriage rides. What you seek is here, at

Ulubrae, so long as peace of mind does not desert you.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 11, l. 27

Concordia discors.

Harmony in discord.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 12, l. 19

Principibus placuisse viris non ultima laus est. Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum.

It is not the least praise to have pleased leading men. Not everyone is lucky enough to get to


‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 17, l. 35

Et semel emissum volat irrevocabile verbum.

And once sent out a word takes wing irrevocably.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 18, l. 71.

Nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet.

For it is your business, when the wall next door catches fire.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 18, l. 84

Fallentis semita vitae.

The pathway of a life unnoticed.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 18, l. 103

Nulla placere diu nec vivere carmina possunt Quae scribuntur aquae potoribus.

No verse can give pleasure for long, nor last, that is written by drinkers of water.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 19, l. 1

O imitatores, servum pecus.

O imitators, you slavish herd.

‘Epistles’ bk. 1, no. 19, l. 19

Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim.

Skilled or unskilled, we all scribble poems.

‘Epistles’ bk. 2, no. 1, l. 117

Si foret in terris, rideret Democritus.

If he were on earth, Democritus would laugh at the sight.

‘Epistles’ bk. 2, no. 1, l. 194

Atque inter silvas Academi quaerere verum.

And seek for truth in the groves of Academe.

‘Epistles’ bk. 2, no. 2, l. 45

Multa fero, ut placem genus irritabile vatum.

I have to put up with a lot, to please the touchy breed of poets.

‘Epistles’ bk. 2, no. 2, l. 102

Quid te exempta iuvat spinis de pluribus una? Vivere si recte nescis, decede peritis.

Lusisti satis, edisti satis atque bibisti: Tempus abire tibi est.

What pleasure does it give to be rid of one thorn out of many? If you don’t know how to live right, give way to those who are expert at it. You have had enough fun, eaten and drunk enough:

time you were off.

‘Epistles’ bk. 2, no. 2, l. 212

Beatus ille, qui procul negotiis, Ut prisca gens mortalium, Paterna rura bubus exercet suis, Solutus omni faenore.

Happy the man who, far away from business, like the race of men of old, tills his ancestral

fields with his own oxen, unbound by any interest to pay.

‘Epodes’ epode 2, l. 1

Indocilis pauperiem pati.

Untaught to bear poverty.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 1, l. 18

Quodsi me lyricis vatibus inseres, Sublimi feriam sidera vertice.

And if you include me among the lyric poets, I’ll hold my head so high it’ll strike the stars.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 1, l. 35

Animae dimidium meae.

Half my own soul.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 3, l. 8 (referring to Virgil)

Illi robur et aes triplex

Circa pectus erat, qui fragilem truci Commisit pelago ratem


His breast must have been girded round with oak and triple bronze, who first launched his frail

boat on the rough sea.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 3, l. 9

Pallida Mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas Regumque turris.

Pale Death breaks into the cottages of the poor as into the castles of kings.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 4, l. 13

Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam.

Life’s short span forbids us to enter on far-reaching hopes.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 4, l. 15

Nil desperandum.

Never despair.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 7, l. 27

Cras ingens iterabimus aequor.

Tomorrow we shall sail again on the vast ocean.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 7, l. 32

Quid sit futurum cras fuge quaerere et Quem Fors dierum cumque dabit lucro Appone.

Drop the question what tomorrow may bring, and count as profit every day that Fate allows


‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 9, l. 13

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi Finem di dederint.

Do not try to find out—we’re forbidden to know—what end the gods have in store for me, or

for you.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 11, l. 1

Dum loquimur, fugerit invida

Aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

While we’re talking, envious time is fleeing: seize the day, put no trust in the future.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 11, l. 7

Felices ter et amplius

Quos irrupta tenet copula nec malis Divulsus querimoniis

Suprema citius solvet amor die.

Thrice blest (and more) are the couple whose ties are unbroken and whose love, never strained

by nasty quarrels, will not slip until their dying day.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 13, l. 17

Integer vitae scelerisque purus.

Of unblemished life and spotless record.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 22, l. 1

Dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo, Dulce loquentem.

I will go on loving Lalage, who laughs so sweetly and talks so sweetly.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 22, l. 23

Parcus deorum cultor et infrequens.

A grudging and irregular worshipper of the gods.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 34, l. 1

Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero Pulsanda tellus.

Now for drinks, now for some dancing with a good beat.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 37, l. 1

Persicos odi, puer, apparatus.

I hate all that Persian gear, boy.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 38, l. 1 Mitte sectari, rosa quo locorum Sera moretur.

Stop looking for the place where a late rose may yet linger.

‘Odes’ bk. 1, no. 38, l. 3

Aequam memento rebus in arduis Servare mentem.

When the going gets rough, remember to keep calm.

‘Odes’ bk. 2, no. 3, l. 1

Auream quisquis mediocritatem Diligit.

Someone who loves the golden mean.

‘Odes’ bk. 2, no. 10, l. 5

Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume, Labuntur anni.

Ah me, Postumus, Postumus, the fleeting years are slipping by.

‘Odes’ bk. 2, no. 14, l. 1

Nihil est ab omni Parte beatum.

Nothing is an unmixed blessing.

‘Odes’ bk. 2, no. 16, l. 27

Credite posteri.

Believe me, you who come after me!

‘Odes’ bk. 2, no. 19, l. 2

Odi profanum vulgus et arceo; Favete linguis; carmina non prius Audita Musarum sacerdos Virginibus puerisque canto.

I hate the common herd and keep them off. Hush your tongues; as a priest of the Muses, I sing

songs never heard before to virgin girls and boys.

‘Odes’ bk. 3, no. 1, l. 1

Omne capax movet urna nomen.

The enormous tombola shakes up everyone’s name.

‘Odes’ bk. 3, no. 1, l. 16

Post equitem sedet atra Cura.

Black Care sits behind the horseman.

‘Odes’ bk. 3, no. 1, l. 40

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