Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton

English statesman and poet (1831-1891)

Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton (8 November, 183124 November, 1891) was an English statesman, serving as Viceroy of India; and poet, under the pen name of Owen Meredith.

QuotesEdit

 
Genius does what it must, and talent does what it can.
  • Since we parted, yester eve,
    I do love thee, love, believe,
    Twelve times dearer, twelve hours longer,
    One dream deeper, one night stronger,
    One sun surer,—thus much more
    Than I loved thee, love, before.
    • "Love Fancies", in The Poetical Works of Owen Meredith, Vol. I (London: Chapman & Hall, 1867), p. 111.
  • The thing which must be, must be for the best.
    • "Changes", stanza vi, in The Poetical Works of Owen Meredith, Vol. I (1867), p. 213.
  • Art is Nature made by Man
    To Man the interpreter of God.
    • "The Artist", stanza 41, in The Poetical Works of Owen Meredith, Vol. I (1867), p. 243.
  • For only by knowledge of that which is not
    Thyself shall thyself be learn'd.
    • "Γνωθι Σεαυτον" ("Know Thyself"), in The Poetical Works of Owen Meredith, Vol. I (1867), p. 247.
  • Who can undo
    What time hath done? who can win back the wind?
    Beckon lost music from a broken lute?
    Renew the redness of a last year's rose?
    Or dig the sunken sunset from the deep?
    • Orval, or The Fool of Time, Second Epoch, in Orval, or The Fool of Time and Other Imitations and Paraphrases (London: Chapman & Hall, 1869), p. 39.

Clytemnestra and Other Poems (1855)Edit

Clytemnestra, The Earl's Return, The Artist, and Other Poems. London: Chapman and Hall, 1855
  • We are but as the instrument of heaven.
    Our work is not design, but destiny.
    • Clytemnestra, canto xix, p. 113.
  • Far up the wave
    The clouds that lay piled in the golden heat
    Were turn'd into types of the ancient mountains
    In an ancient land.
    • "The Earl's Return", canto x, pp. 151–152,
    • The first two lines of this quote are cited in the full title of Harry John Johnson's painting, "Sunset in the Atlantic". See T.M.P. Duggan, "An Echo of Patara and the Xanthus Valley Reflected in Two Works by Harry Johnson", Cedrus VIII (2020), p. 745, fn. 89.
  • Then did I feel as one who, much perplext,
    Led by strange legends and the light of stars
    Over long regions of the midnight sand
    Beyond the red tract of the Pyramids,
    Is suddenly drawn to look upon the sky
    From sense of unfamiliar light, and sees
    Reveal'd against the constellated cope
    The great cross of the South.
    • "Guenevere", p. 297.

The Wanderer (1859)Edit

London: Chapman & Hall, 1859
  • There is a pleasure which is born of pain.
    • Prologue, Part i, stanza ii, p. 1.
  • Love thou the rose, yet leave it on its stem.
    • Prologue, Part i, stanza xix, p. 7.
  • Oh, moment of sweet peril, perilous sweet!
    When woman joins herself to man.
    • Prologue, Part i, stanza xxvii, p. 10.
  • Ah, well! when time is flown, how it fled
    It is better neither to ask nor tell.
    Leave the dead moments to bury their dead.
    • Book ii: In France, "Á l'Entresol", p. 125.
  • And the jasmin-flower in her fair young breast:
    (O the faint, sweet smell of that jasmin-flower!)
    And the one bird singing alone in his nest:
    And the one star over the tower.
    • Book ii: In France, "Aux Italiens", stanza xiii, p. 143.
  • The world is fill'd with folly and sin,
    And Love must cling where it can, I say:
    For Beauty is easy enough to win;
    But one isn't loved every day.
    • Book ii: In France, "Aux Italiens", stanza xxvi, p. 146.
  • In the lives of most women and men
    There's a moment when all would go smooth and even,
    If only the dead could find out when
    To come back and be forgiven.
    • Book ii: In France, "Aux Italiens", stanza xxvii, p. 146.
  • A night of tears! for the gusty rain
    Had ceased, but the eaves were dripping yet;
    And the moon look'd forth, as tho' in pain,
    With her face al white and wet.
    • Book ii: In France, "The Portrait", p. 149.
  • The ages roll
    Forward; and, forward with them, draw my soul
    Into Time’s infinite sea.
    And to be glad or sad I care no more:
    But to have done, and to have been, before
    I cease to do and be!
    • "A Confession and Apology", All the Year Round, Vol. ii New Series (September 11, 1869), p. 349; The Wanderer, Book iv: Exile, "A Confession and Apology", in The Wanderer and Other Poems (London: Chapman & Hall, 1876), p. 189.
 
Robert Bulwer-Lytton

Lucile (1860)Edit

  • Words, however, are things: and the man who accords
    To his language the license to outrage his soul
    Is controll'd by the words he disdains to control.
    • Part i, canto ii, section vi.
  • The man who seeks one thing in life and but one
    May hope to achieve it before life is done;
    But he who seeks all things, wherever he goes
    Only reaps from the hopes which around him he sows
    A harvest of barren regrets.
    • Part i, canto ii, section viii.
  • Let any man show the world that he feels
    Afraid of its bark and ’t will fly at his heels:
    Let him fearlessly face it, ’t will leave him alone:
    But ’t will fawn at his feet if he flings it a bone.
    • Part i, canto ii, section xii.
  • Whene'er I hear French spoken as I approve,
    I feel myself quietly falling in love.
    • Part i, canto ii, section xvii
  • We may live without poetry, music and art;
    We may live without conscience and live without heart;
    We may live without friends; we may live without books;
    But civilized man can not live without cooks.
    He may live without books,—what is knowledge but grieving?
    He may live without hope—what is hope but deceiving?
    He may live without love,—what is passion but pining?
    But where is the man that can live without dining?
    • Part i, canto ii, section xxiv.
  • The world is a nettle; disturb it, it stings.
    Grasp it firmly, it stings not.
    • Part i, canto iii, section ii.
    • Quoted by Walt Whitman in Roaming in Thought.
  • We gain
    Justice, judgment, with years, or else years are in vain.
    • Part i, canto iii, section xvi.
  • 'Twas a hand
    White, delicate, dimpled, warm, languid, and bland.
    The hand of a woman is often, in youth,
    Somewhat rough, somewhat red, somewhat graceless in truth;
    Does its beauty refine, as its pulses grow calm,
    Or as sorrow has cross'd the life-line in its palm.
    • Part i, canto iii, section xviii.
  • We are what we must,
    And not what we would be. I know that one hour
    Forestalls not another. The will and the power
    Are diverse.
    • Part i, canto iii, section xxiv.
  • Rest is sweet after strife.
    • Part i, canto vi, section xxvi.
  • When life leaps in the veins, when it beats in the heart,
    When it thrills as it fills every animate part,
    Where lurks it? How works it?.. we scarcely detect it.
    • Part ii, canto i, section v. Ellipsis in original.
  • There's no weapon that slays
    Its victim so surely (if well aim'd) as praise.
    • Part ii, canto i, section xx.
  • You know
    There are moments when silence, prolong'd and unbroken,
    More expressive may be than all words ever spoken.
    • Part ii, canto i, section xx.
  • No true love can be without
    Its dread penalty—jealousy.
    • Part ii, canto i, section xxiv.
  • Those true eyes
    Too pure and too honest in aught to disguise
    The sweet soul shining through them.
    • Part ii, canto ii, section iii.
    • Compare: "Ils sont si transparents qu’ils laissent voir votre âme" (translated: Eyes so transparent that through them the soul is seen), Theophile Gautier, The Two Beautiful Eyes.
  • Do not think that years leave us and find us the same!
    • Part ii, canto ii, section iii.
  • Alas! must it be ever so?
    Do we stand in our own light, wherever we go,
    And fight our own shadows forever?
    • Part ii, canto ii, section v.
  • In life there are meetings which seem
    Like a fate.
    • Part ii, canto iii, section viii.
  • To all facts there are laws.
    The effect has its cause, and I mount to the cause.
    • Part ii, canto iii, section viii.
  • We are our own fates. Our deeds
    Are our doomsmen. Man's life was made not for men's creeds,
    But men's actions.
    • Part ii, canto v, section viii.
  • There is purpose in pain,
    Otherwise it were devilish.
    • Part ii, canto v, section viii.
  • Life hath set
    No landmarks before us.
    • Part ii, canto v, section xiv.
  • Thought alone is eternal.
    • Part ii, canto v, section xvi.
  • 'Tis more brave
    To live, than to die.
    • Part ii, canto vi, section xi.
  • As pure as a pearl,
    And as perfect: a noble and innocent girl.
    • Part ii, canto vi, section xvi.
  • That's best
    Which God sends. 'Twas His will: it is mine.
    • Part ii, canto vi, section xxix.
  • No star ever rose
    And set, without influence somewhere.
    • Part ii, canto vi, section xl.
  • No life
    Can be pure in its purpose and strong in its strife
    And all life not be purer and stronger thereby.
    • Part ii, canto vi, section xl.

Chronicles and Characters (1868)Edit

London: Chapman and Hall, 1868
  • Life is good; but not life in itself.
    • Vol. i, Book v: Mohamedan Era, "The Apple of Life", pp. 275, 281, 285.
  • Who seeks for aid
    Must show how service sought can be repaid.
    • Vol. i, Book vi. Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, "The Siege of Constantinople, Part i, canto xi: Le Valet de Constantinople", p. 323.
  • But, however we pass Time, he passes still,
    Passing away whatever the pastime,
    And, whether we use him well or ill,
    Some day he gives us the slip for the last time.
    • Vol. ii, Book viii: From 1525 to 1789, "The Dead Pope", p. 112.
  • Unseen hands delay
    The coming of what seems close in ken,
    And, contrary, the moment when we say
    "'Twill never come!" comes on us even then.
  • O be very sure
    That no man will learn anything at all,
    Unless he first will learn humility.
    • Vol. ii, Book viii: From 1525 to 1789, "Vanini", p. 220.
  • I loved you ere I knew you: know you now,
    And, having known you, love you better still.
    • Vol. ii, Book viii: From 1525 to 1789, "Vanini", p. 225.
  • Genius does what it must, and Talent does what it can.
    • Vol. ii, Book ix: Here and There, "Last Words", p. 302.
  • That man is great, and he alone,
    Who serves a greatness not his own.
    • Vol. ii, Book ix: Here and There, "A Great Man", p. 336.
  • Who knows nothing base
    Fears nothing known.
    • Vol. ii, Book ix: Here and There, "A Great Man", p. 338.

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