Women like silent men. They think they’re listening.
We learn nothing by being right.
Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification – the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit.
The Man in the Moon
On the edge of the jumping-off place I stood
Below me, the lake
Beyond that, the dark wood
And above, a night-sky that roared.
I picked a space between two stars
Held out my arms, and soared.
* * *
The journey lasted not half a minute
There is a moon reflected in the lake
You will find me in it.
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
He who has imagination without learning has wings and no feet.
All the Diamonds
All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea
I ran aground in a harbour town
Lost the taste for being free
Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
To carry me to sea
Two thousand years and half a world away
Dying trees still grow greener when you pray
Silver scales flash bright and fade
In reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in sea of liquid jade
His ship comes shining
Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
His ship comes shining.
There is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have.
A witness cannot give evidence of his age unless he can remember being born.
Evil isn’t an army that besieges a city from outside the walls. It is a native of the city. It is the mutiny in the garrison, the poison in the water, the ashes in the bread.
Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow,
The small raine down can raine.
Cryst, if my love were in my armes
And I in my bedde again!
…scientific theory is a contrived foothold in the chaos of living phenomena.
Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.
King David and King Solomon
Led merry, merry lives,
With many, many concubines
And many, many wives;
But when old age crept over them,
With many, many qualms,
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs
And King David wrote the Psalms
Diligence is the mother of good luck.
When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only being uncomfortable.
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
Only mediocre people are always at their best.
A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.
If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them-peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set then back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.
I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are;
because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star.
I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far;
for a might have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.
Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.
The cat’s ignoring me.
So I’m ignoring the cat.
Which means that I’m not.
The broad-backed hippopotamus
Rests on his belly in the mud;
Although he seems so firm to us
He is merely flesh and blood.
Flesh and blood is weak and frail,
Susceptible to nervous shock;
While the true church can never fail
For it is based upon a rock.
The hippo’s feeble steps may err
In compassing material ends,
While the True Church need never stir
To gather in its dividends.
The ‘potamus can never reach
The mango on the mango-tree;
But fruits of pomegranate and peach
Refresh the Church from over sea.
At mating time the hippo’s voice
Betrays inflexions hoarse and odd,
But every week we hear rejoice
The Church, at being one with God.
The hippopotamus’s day
Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
God works in a mysterious way –
The church can sleep and feed at once
I saw the ‘potamus take wing
Ascending from the damp savannas,
And quiring angels round him sing
The praise of God, in loud hosannas.
Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean
And him shall heavenly arms enfold,
Among the saints he shall be seen
Performing on a harp of gold.
He shall be washed as white as snow,
By all martyr’d virgins kist,
While the True Church remains below
Wrapt in old miasmal mist.
The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.
It is a question of seeing
so much clearer
of doing to things
what light does to them.
Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?
It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.
I am with you on the free press, it is the papers I can’t stand.
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.