John Boyle O'Reilly

Irish-born poet and novelist

John Boyle O'Reilly (28 June 184410 August 1890) was an Irish-born poet and novelist.

John Boyle O'Reilly in 1866


  • How shall I a habit break?
    As you did that habit make.
    As you gathered, you must lose;
    As you yielded, now refuse.
    Thread by thread the strands we twist
    Till they bind us, neck and wrist.
    Thread by thread the patient hand
    Must untwine, ere free we stand.
    As we builded, stone by stoene,
    We must toil, unhelped, alone,
    Till the wall is overthrown.
    • A Builder's Lesson.
  • The organized charity, scrimped and iced, In the name of a cautious, statistical Christ.
    • In Bohemia, st. 5 (1886).
  • I'd rather live in Bohemia than in any other land.
    • In Bohemia.
  • The red rose whispers of passion,
      And the white rose breathes of love;
    O, the red rose is a falcon,
      And the white rose is a dove.
    But I send you a cream-white rosebud
      With a flush on its petal tips,
    For the love that is purest and sweetest
      Has a kiss of desire on the lips.
    • A White Rose, in In Bohemia (1886), p. 24.
  • You gave me the key of your heart, my love;
    Then why did you make me knock?
    Oh that was yesterday, saints above!
    And last night—I changed the lock!
    • Constancy.
  • For all time to come, the freedom and purity of the press are the test of national virtue and independence. No writer for the press, however humble, is free from the burden of keeping his purpose high and his integrity white.
    • Quoted in Roche, James Jeffrey (1891). Life of John Boyle O'Reilly, together with his complete poems and speeches edited by Mrs John Boyle O'Reilly. New York. p 195.
  • Though it lash the shallows that line the beach,
    Afar from the great sea-deeps,
    There is never a storm whose might can reach
    Where the vast leviathan sleeps.
    Like a mighty thought in a mighty mind
    In the clear cold depths he swims;
    Whilst above him the pettiest form of his kind
    With a dash o'er the surface skims.
    • Prelude to the amber whale.
  • They who see the Flying Dutchman never, never reach the shore.
    • The Flying Dutchman.
  • Doubt is brother-devil to Despair.
    • Prometheus.
  • The world is large when weary leagues two loving hearts divide
    But the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side.
    • Distance.
  • Be silent and safe—silence never betrays you.
    • Rules of the Road.
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