British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator and socialist activist (1834-1896)
William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement.
- If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
- "The Beauty of Life," a lecture before the Birmingham Society of Arts and School of Design (19 February 1880), later published in Hopes and Fears for Art: Five Lectures Delivered in Birmingham, London, and Nottingham, 1878 - 1881 (1882).
- Beauty, which is what is meant by art, using the word in its widest sense, is, I contend, no mere accident to human life, which people can take or leave as they choose, but a positive necessity of life.
- The Beauty of Life (1880).
- The greatest foe to art is luxury, art cannot live in its atmosphere.
- The Beauty of Life (1880).
- Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement: a sanded floor and whitewashed walls, and the green trees, and flowery meads, and living waters outside; or a grimy palace amid the smoke with a regiment of housemaids always working to smear the dirt together so that it may be unnoticed; which, think you, is the most refined, the most fit for a gentleman of those two dwellings?
So I say, if you cannot learn to love real art; at least learn to hate sham art and reject it. It is not because the wretched thing is so ugly and silly and useless that I ask you to cast it from you; it is much more because these are but the outward symbols of the poison that lies within them; look through them and see all that has gone to their fashioning, and you will see how vain labour, and sorrow, and disgrace have been their companions from the first — and all this for trifles that no man really needs!
- Speech, London (10 March 1880)
- I love art, and I love history, but it is living art and living history that I love... It is in the interest of living art and living history that I oppose so-called restoration. What history can there be in a building bedaubed with ornament, which cannot at the best be anything but a hopeless and lifeless imitation of the hope and vigour of the earlier world?
- "The History of Pattern-Designing" lecture (1882) The Collected Works of William Morris (1910 - 1915) Vol. 22
- So long as the system of competition in the production and exchange of the means of life goes on, the degradation of the arts will go on; and if that system is to last for ever, then art is doomed, and will surely die; that is to say, civilization will die.
- "Art Under Plutocracy" (1883)
- What shall I say concerning its mastery of and its waste of mechanical power, its commonwealth so poor, its enemies of the commonwealth so rich, its stupendous organization — for the misery of life! Its contempt of simple pleasures which everyone could enjoy but for its folly? Its eyeless vulgarity which has destroyed art, the one certain solace of labour? All this I felt then as now, but I did not know why it was so. The hope of the past times was gone, the struggles of mankind for many ages had produced nothing but this sordid, aimless, ugly confusion.
- Why I Am A Socialist (1884)
- ...what I mean by Socialism is a condition of society in which there should be neither rich nor poor, neither master nor master's man, neither idle nor overworked, neither brainslack brain workers, nor heartsick hand workers, in a word, in which all men would be living in equality of condition, and would manage their affairs unwastefully, and with the full consciousness that harm to one would mean harm to all—the realisation at last of the meaning of the word commonwealth.
- Why I Am A Socialist (1884)
- On the fall of Chartism, the Liberal party—which as an engine of progress was a party without principles or definition, but has been used as a thoroughly adequate expression of English middle-class hypocrisy, cowardice, and short-sightedness—engrossed the whole of the political progressive movement in England, and dragged the working classes along with it, blind as they were to their own interests and the solidarity of labour.
- Socialism: Its Growth & Outcome, co-authored with E. Belfort Bax (1893), pp. 182-183
- With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on.
- As quoted in William Morris & Red House (2005) by Jan Marsh, p. 65.
- Pray but one prayer for me 'twixt thy closed lips,
Think but one thought of me up in the stars.
- "Summer Dawn".
- Wert thou more fickle than the restless sea,
Still should I love thee, knowing thee for such.
- Life and Death of Jason, Book ix, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- The majesty
That from man's soul looks through his eager eyes.
- Life and Death of Jason, Book xiii, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- Now such an one for daughter Creon had
As maketh wise men fools and young men mad.
- Life and Death of Jason, Book xvii, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- O thrush, your song is passing sweet
But never a song that you have sung,
Is half so sweet as thrushes sang
When my dear Love and I were young.
- Other Days, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- From out the throng and stress of lies,
From out the painful noise of sighs,
One voice of comfort seems to rise:
"It is the meaner part that dies."
The Earthly Paradise (1868-70)Edit
- Masters, I have to tell a tale of woe,
A tale of folly and of wasted life,
Hope against hope, the bitter dregs of strife,
Ending, where all things end, in death at last.
- Introductory verse.
- I too
Will go, remembering what I said to you,
When any land, the first to which we came
Seemed that we sought, and set your hearts aflame,
And all seemed won to you: but still I think,
Perchance years hence, the fount of life to drink,
Unless by some ill chance I first am slain.
But boundless risk must pay for boundless gain.
- "Prologue : The Wanderers"; the last line here may be related to far older expressions such as: "Naught venture, naught have" by Thomas Tusser.
- Slayer of the Winter, art thou here again?
O welcome, thou that bring'st the Summer nigh!
The bitter wind makes not thy victory vain,
Nor will we mock thee for thy faint blue sky.
- Rejoice, lest pleasureless ye die.
Within a little time must ye go by.
Stretch forth your open hands, and while ye live
Take [[all] the gifts that Death and Life may give!
- Forgetfulness of grief I yet may gain;
In some wise may come ending to my pain;
It may be yet the Gods will have me glad!
Yet, Love, I would that thee and pain I had!
- "The Death of Paris".
- Earth, left silent by the wind of night,
Seems shrunken 'neath the gray unmeasured height.
- Late February days; and now, at last,
Might you have thought that Winter's woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air.
- A world made to be lost, —
A bitter life 'twixt pain and nothing tost.
- "The Hill of Venus".
- To happy folk
All heaviest words no more of meaning bear
Than far-off bells saddening the Summer air.
- "The Hill of Venus".
- Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day.
- The heavy trouble, the bewildering care
That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,
These idle verses have no power to bear;
So let em sing of names rememberèd,
Because they, living not, can ne'er be dead,
Or long time take their memory quite away
From us poor singers of an empty day.
- Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate
To those who in the sleepy region stay,
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.
- Folk say, a wizard to a northern king
At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show,
That through one window men beheld the spring,
And through another saw the summer glow,
And through a third the fruited vines a-row,
While still, unheard, but in its wonted way,
Piped the drear wind of that December day.
So with this Earthly Paradise it is,
If ye will read aright, and pardon me,
Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss
Midmost the beating of the steely sea,
Where tossed about all hearts of men must be;
Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay,
Not the poor singer of an empty day.
The Lady of the LandEdit
- It happened once, some men of Italy
Midst the Greek Islands went a sea-roving,
And much good fortune had they on the sea:
Of many a man they had the ransoming,
And many a chain they gat and goodly thing;
And midst their voyage to an isle they came,
Whereof my story keepeth not the name.
- One was there who left all his friends behind;
Who going inland ever more and more,
And being left quite alone, at last did find
A lonely valley sheltered from the wind,
Wherein, amidst an ancient cypress wood,
A long-deserted ruined castle stood.
- Noble the house was, nor seemed built for war,
But rather like the work of other days,
When men, in better peace than now they are,
Had leisure on the world around to gaze,
And noted well the past times' changing ways;
And fair with sculptured stories it was wrought,
By lapse of time unto dim ruin brought.
- But taking note of these things, at the last
The mariner beneath the gateway passed.
And there a lovely cloistered court he found,
A fountain in the mist o'erthrown and dry,
And in the cloister briers twining round
The slender shafts; the wondrous imagery
Outworn by more than many years gone by;
Because the country people, in their fear
Of wizardry, had wrought destruction here,
And piteously these fair things had been maimed;
There stood great Jove, lacking his head of might;
Here was the archer, swift Apollo, lamed;
The shapely limbs of Venus hid from sight
By weeds and shards; Diana's ankles light
Bound with the cable of some coasting ship;
And rusty nails through Helen's maddening lip.
- And there he saw a door within the wall,
Well-hinged, close shut; nor was there in that place
Another on its hinges, therefore he
Stood there and pondered for a little space
And thought: "Perchance some marvel I shall see,
For surely here some dweller there must be,
Because this door seems whole and new and sound,
While nought but ruin I can see around".
- No pillager or wrecker had been there;
It seemed that time had passed on otherwhere,
Nor laid a finger on this hidden place
Rich with the wealth of some forgotten race.
- The wanderer trembled when he saw all this,
Because he deemed by magic it was wrought;
Yet in his heart a longing for some bliss
Whereof the hard and changing world knows nought,
Arose and urged him on, and dimmed the thought
That there perchance some devil lurked to slay
The heedless wanderer from the light of day
- Upon the floor uncounted medals lay
Like things of little value; here and there
Stood golden caldrons, that might well outweigh
The biggest midst an emperor's copper-ware,
And golden cups were set on tables fair,
Themselves of gold; and in all hollow things
Were stored great gems, worthy the crowns of kings.
- And then the image, that well-nigh erased
Over the castle-gate he did behold,
Above a door well wrought in coloured gold
Again he saw; a naked girl with wings
Enfolded in a serpent's scaly rings.
- There sat a woman, whose wet tresses rolled
On to the floor in waves of gleaming gold,
Cast back from such a form as, erewhile shown
To one poor shepherd, lighted up Troy town.
- "Alas, alas! another day gone by,
Another day and no soul come," she said;
"Another year, and still I am not dead!"
And with that word once more her head she raised,
And on the trembling man with great eyes gazed.
- "What man art thou that thus hast wandered here,
And found this lonely chamber where I dwell?
Beware, beware! for I have many a spell;
If greed of power and gold have led thee on,
Not lightly shall this untold wealth be won.
But if thou com'st here knowing of my tale,
In hope to bear away my body fair,
Stout must thine heart be, nor shall that avail
If thou a wicked soul in thee dost bear;
So once again I bid thee to beware,
Because no base man things like this may see,
And live thereafter long and happily."
- From those thy words, I deem from some distress
By deeds of mine thy dear life I might save;
O then, delay not! if one ever gave
His life to any, mine I give to thee;
Come, tell me what the price of love must be?
Swift death, to be with thee a day and night
And with the earliest dawning to be slain?
Or better, a long year of great delight,
And many years of misery and pain?
Or worse, and this poor hour for all my gain?
A sorry merchant am I on this day,
E'en as thou willest so must I obey.
- "God grant indeed thy words are not for nought!
Then shalt thou save me, since for many a day
To such a dreadful life I have been brought:
Nor will I spare with all my heart to pay
What man soever takes my grief away;
Ah! I will love thee, if thou lovest me
But well enough my saviour now to be.
- A queen I was, what Gods I knew I loved,
And nothing evil was there in my thought,
And yet by love my wretched heart was moved
Until to utter ruin I was brought!
Alas! thou sayest our gods were vain and nought,
Wait, wait, till thou hast heard this tale of mine,
Then shalt thou think them devilish or divine.
- For Queen Diana did my body change
Into a fork-tongued dragon flesh and fell,
And through the island nightly do I range,
Or in the green sea mate with monsters strange,
When in the middle of the moonlit night
The sleepy mariner I do affright.
- Drowsy I lie, no folk at my command,
Who once was called the Lady of the Land;
Who might have bought a kingdom with a kiss,
Yea, half the world with such a sight as this.
- "Wilt thou not save me? once in every year
This rightful form of mine that thou dost see
By favour of the Goddess have I here
From sunrise unto sunset given me,
That some brave man may end my misery.
And thou — art thou not brave? can thy heart fail,
Whose eyes e'en now are weeping at my tale?
- Then listen! when this day is overpast,
A fearful monster shall I be again,
And thou mayst be my saviour at the last,
Unless, once more, thy words are nought and vain.
If thou of love and sovereignty art fain,
Come thou next morn, and when thou seest here
A hideous dragon, have thereof no fear,
But take the loathsome head up in thine hands
And kiss it, and be master presently
Of twice the wealth that is in all the lands
From Cathay to the head of Italy;
And master also, if it pleaseth thee,
Of all thou praisest as so fresh and bright,
Of what thou callest crown of all delight.
Ah! with what joy then shall I see again
The sunlight on the green grass and the trees,
And hear the clatter of the summer rain,
And see the joyous folk beyond the seas.
Ah, me! to hold my child upon my knees
After the weeping of unkindly tears
And all the wrongs of these four hundred years.
Go now, go quick! leave this grey heap of stone;
And from thy glad heart think upon thy way,
How I shall love thee — yea, love thee alone,
That bringest me from dark death unto day;
For this shall be thy wages and thy pay;
Unheard-of wealth, unheard-of love is near,
If thou hast heart a little dread to bear.
- "Ah! wilt thou leave me then without one kiss,
To slay the very seeds of fear and doubt,
That glad to-morrow may bring certain bliss?
Hast thou forgotten how love lives by this,
The memory of some hopeful close embrace,
Low whispered words within some lonely place?"
- So on he went, and on the way he thought
Of all the glorious things of yesterday,
Nought of the price whereat they must be bought,
But ever to himself did softly say
"No roaming now, my wars are passed away,
No long dull days devoid of happiness,
When such a love my yearning heart shall bless."
- A fearful thing stood at the cloister's end
And eyed him for a while, then 'gan to wend
Adown the cloisters, and began again
That rattling, and the moan like fiends in pain.
And as it came on towards him, with its teeth
The body of a slain goat did it tear,
The blood whereof in its hot jaws did seethe,
And on its tongue he saw the smoking hair;
Then his heart sank, and standing trembling there,
Throughout his mind wild thoughts and fearful ran:
"Some fiend she was," he said, "the bane of man."
Yet he abode her still, although his blood
Curdled within him: the thing dropped the goat,
And creeping on, came close to where he stood,
And raised its head to him and wrinkled throat.
Then he cried out and wildly at her smote,
Shutting his eyes, and turned and from the place
Ran swiftly, with a white and ghastly face.
- Meanwhile the dragon, seeing him clean gone,
Followed him not, but crying horribly,
Caught up within her jaws a block of stone
And ground it into powder, then turned she,
With cries that folk could hear far out at sea,
And reached the treasure set apart of old,
To brood above the hidden heaps of gold.
Love is Enough (1872)Edit
- Love is Enough; or, The Freeing of Pharamond , A Morality (1872)
Song I : Though the World Be A-WaningEdit
- Love is enough: though the World be a-waning
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds passed over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.
Song II: Have No Thought for TomorrowEdit
- Love is enough: have no thought for to-morrow
If ye lie down this even in rest from your pain,
Ye who have paid for your bliss with great sorrow...
- Till again shall the change come, and words your lips say not
Your hearts make all plain in the best wise they would
And the world ye thought waning is glorious and good...
- The wind is not helpless for any man's need,
Nor falleth the rain but for thistle and weed.
- O surely this morning all sorrow is hidden,
All battle is hushed for this even at least;
And no one this noontide may hunger, unbidden
To the flowers and the singing and the joy of your feast
Where silent ye sit midst the world's tale increased.
- Lo, the lovers unloved that draw nigh for your blessing!
For your tale makes the dreaming whereby yet they live
The dreams of the day with their hopes of redressing,
The dreams of the night with the kisses they give,
The dreams of the dawn wherein death and hope strive.
- Ah, what shall we say then, but that earth threatened often
Shall live on for ever that such things may be,
That the dry seed shall quicken, the hard earth shall soften,
And the spring-bearing birds flutter north o'er the sea,
That earth's garden may bloom round my love's feet and me?
Song III: It Grew Up Without HeedingEdit
- Love is enough: it grew up without heeding
In the days when ye knew not its name nor its measure,
And its leaflets untrodden by the light feet of pleasure
Had no boast of the blossom, no sign of the seeding,
As the morning and evening passed over its treasure.
- And what do ye say then? — That Spring long departed
Has brought forth no child to the softness and showers;
— That we slept and we dreamed through the Summer of flowers;
We dreamed of the Winter, and waking dead-hearted
Found Winter upon us and waste of dull hours.
- Nay, Spring was o'er-happy and knew not the reason,
And Summer dreamed sadly, for she thought all was ended
In her fulness of wealth that might not be amended;
But this is the harvest and the garnering season,
And the leaf and the blossom in the ripe fruit are blended.
- It sprang without sowing, it grew without heeding,
Ye knew not its name and ye knew not its measure,
Ye noted it not mid your hope and your pleasure;
There was pain in its blossom, despair in its seeding,
But daylong your bosom now nurseth its treasure.
Song IV: Draw Near and Behold MeEdit
- Love is enough: draw near and behold me
Ye who pass by the way to your rest and your laughter,
And are full of the hope of the dawn coming after;
For the strong of the world have bought me and sold me
And my house is all wasted from threshold to rafter.
— Pass by me, and hearken, and think of me not!
- Ye know not how void is your hope and your living:
Depart with your helping lest yet ye undo me!
Ye know not that at nightfall she draweth near to me,
There is soft speech between us and words of forgiving
Till in dead of the midnight her kisses thrill through me.
— Pass by me and harken, and waken me not!
- Wherewith will ye buy it, ye rich who behold me?
Draw out from your coffers your rest and your laughter,
And the fair gilded hope of the dawn coming after!
Nay this I sell not, — though ye bought me and sold me, —
For your house stored with such things from threshold to rafter.
— Pass by me, I hearken, and think of you not!
Song V: Through the Trouble and TangleEdit
- Love is enough: through the trouble and tangle
From yesterday's dawning to yesterday's night
I sought through the vales where the prisoned winds wrangle,
Till, wearied and bleeding, at end of the light
I met him, and we wrestled, and great was my might.
- And the Shadow of the Night and not Love was departed;
I was sore, I was weary, yet Love lived to seek;
So I scaled the dark mountains, and wandered sad-hearted
Over wearier wastes, where e'en sunlight was bleak,
With no rest of the night for my soul waxen weak.
- With no rest of the night; for I waked mid a story
Of a land wherein Love is the light and the lord,
Where my tale shall be heard, and my wounds gain a glory,
And my tears be a treasure to add to the hoard
Of pleasure laid up for his people's reward.
Song VI: Cherish Life that AbidethEdit
- Love is enough: cherish life that abideth,
Lest ye die ere ye know him, and curse and misname him;
For who knows in what ruin of all hope he hideth,
On what wings of the terror of darkness he rideth?
And what is the joy of man's life that ye blame him
For his bliss grown a sword, and his rest grown a fire?
- Live on, for Love liveth, and earth shall be shaken
By the wind of his wings on the triumphing morning,
When the dead, and their deeds that die not shall awaken,
And the world's tale shall sound in your trumpet of warning,
And the sun smite the banner called Scorn of the Scorning,
And dead pain ye shall trample, dead fruitless desire,
As ye wend to pluck out the new world from the fire.
Song VII: Dawn Talks to DayEdit
- Dawn talks to Day
Over dew-gleaming flowers,
Night flies away
Till the resting of hours:
Fresh are thy feet
And with dreams thine eyes glistening,
Thy still lips are sweet
Though the world is a-listening.
O Love, set a word in my mouth for our meeting,
Cast thine arms round about me to stay my heart's beating!
O fresh day, O fair day, O long day made ours!
- Morn shall meet noon
While the flower-stems yet move,
Though the wind dieth soon
And the clouds fade above.
Loved lips are thine
As I tremble and hearken;
Bright thine eyes shine,
Though the leaves thy brow darken.
O Love, kiss me into silence, lest no word avail me,
Stay my head with thy bosom lest breath and life fail me!
O sweet day, O rich day, made long for our love!
- Let us speak, love, together some words of our story,
That our lips as they part may remember the glory!
O soft day, O calm day, made clear for our sake!
- Eve shall kiss night,
And the leaves stir like rain
As the wind stealeth light
O'er the grass of the plain.
Unseen are thine eyes
Mid the dreamy night's sleeping,
And on my mouth there lies
The dear rain of thy weeping.
Song VIII: While Ye Deemed Him A-SleepingEdit
- Love is enough: while ye deemed him a-sleeping,
There were signs of his coming and sounds of his feet;
His touch it was that would bring you to weeping,
When the summer was deepest and music most sweet...
- All wonder of pleasure, all doubt of desire,
All blindness, are ended, and no more ye feel
If your feet treat his flowers or the flames of his fire,
If your breast meet his balms or the edge of his steel.
Change is come, and past over, no more strife, no more learning:
Now your lips and your forehead are sealed with his seal,
Look backward and smile at the thorns and the burning.
— Sweet rest, O my soul, and no fear of returning!
Song IX: Ho Ye Who Seek SavingEdit
- Love is enough: ho ye who seek saving,
Go no further; come hither; there have been who have found it,
And these know the House of Fulfilment of Craving;
These know the Cup with the roses around it;
These know the World's Wound and the balm that hath bound it:
Cry out, the World heedeth not, "Love, lead us home!"
- O hearken the words of his voice of compassion:
"Come cling round about me, ye faithful who sicken
Of the weary unrest and the world's passing fashions!
As the rain in mid-morning your troubles shall thicken,
But surely within you some Godhead doth quicken,
As ye cry to me heeding, and leading you home."
- "Come — pain ye shall have, and be blind to the ending!
Come — fear ye shall have, mid the sky's overcasting!
Come — change ye shall have, for far are ye wending!
Come — no crown ye shall have for your thirst and your fasting,
But the kissed lips of Love and fair life everlasting!
Cry out, for one heedeth, who leadeth you home!"
The Decorative Arts (1877)Edit
- "The Decorative Arts: Their Relation to Modern Life and Progress" (1877) Morris's first public lecture, later published as "The Lesser Arts" in Hopes and Fears for Art (1882)
- To give people pleasure in the things they must perforce use, that is one great office of decoration; to give people pleasure in the things they must perforce make, that is the other use of it.
Does not our subject look important enough now? I say that without these arts, our rest would be vacant and uninteresting, our labour mere endurance, mere wearing away of body and mind.
- When we can get beyond that smoky world, there, out in the country we may still see the works of our fathers yet alive amidst the very nature they were wrought into, and of which they are so completely a part: for there indeed if anywhere, in the English country, in the days when people cared about such things, was there a full sympathy between the works of man, and the land they were made for: — the land is a little land; too much shut up within the narrow seas, as it seems, to have much space for swelling into hugeness: there are no great wastes overwhelming in their dreariness, no great solitudes of forests, no terrible untrodden mountain-walls: all is measured, mingled, varied, gliding easily one thing into another: little rivers, little plains, swelling, speedily- changing uplands, all beset with handsome orderly trees; little hills, little mountains, netted over with the walls of sheep- walks: all is little; yet not foolish and blank, but serious rather, and abundant of meaning for such as choose to seek it: it is neither prison nor palace, but a decent home.
- I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.
Art and Socialism (1884)Edit
- It is right and necessary that all men should have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to do; and which should be done under such conditions as would make it neither over-wearisome nor over-anxious.
- Nothing should be made by man's labour which is not worth making; or which must be made by labour degrading to the makers.
A Dream of John Ball (1886)Edit
- First printed in The Commonweal (13 November 1886 - 22 January 1887) - online text at the University of Virginia
- The title refers to the 14th century English rebel John Ball.
- When I was journeying (in a dream of the night) down the well-remembered reaches of the Thames betwixt Streatley and Wallingford, where the foothills of the White Horse fall back from the broad stream, I came upon a clear-seen mediæval town standing up with roof and tower and spire within its walls, grey and ancient, but untouched from the days of its builders of old. All this I have seen in the dreams of the night clearer than I can force myself to see them in dreams of the day. So that it would have been nothing new to me the other night to fall into an architectural dream if that were all, and yet I have to tell of things strange and new that befell me after I had fallen asleep.
- Ch. 1: The Men of Kent
- Forsooth, ye have heard it said that ye shall do well in this world that in the world to come ye may live happily for ever; do ye well then, and have your reward both on earth and in heaven; for I say to you that earth and heaven are not two but one; and this one is that which ye know, and are each one of you a part of, to wit, the Holy Church, and in each one of you dwelleth the life of the Church, unless ye slay it.
- Ch. 4: The Voice of John Ball
- Forsooth, brothers, fellowship is heaven, and lack of fellowship is hell: fellowship is life, and lack of fellowship is death: and the deeds that ye do upon the earth, it is for fellowship's sake that ye do them, and the life that is in it, that shall live on and on for ever, and each one of you part of it, while many a man's life upon the earth from the earth shall wane.
Therefore, I bid you not dwell in hell but in heaven, or while ye must, upon earth, which is a part of heaven, and forsooth no foul part.
- Ch. 4: The Voice of John Ball
- Forsooth, he that waketh in hell and feeleth his heart fail him, shall have memory of the merry days of earth, and how that when his heart failed him there, he cried on his fellow, were it his wife or his son or his brother or his gossip or his brother sworn in arms, and how that his fellow heard him and came and they mourned together under the sun, till again they laughed together and were but half sorry between them. This shall he think on in hell, and cry on his fellow to help him, and shall find that therein is no help because there is no fellowship, but every man for himself.
- Ch. 4: The Voice of John Ball
- I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.
- Ch. 4: The Voice of John Ball
- It is for him that is lonely or in prison to dream of fellowship, but for him that is of a fellowship to do and not to dream.
- Ch. 4: The Voice of John Ball
- Mastership hath many shifts whereby it striveth to keep itself alive in the world. And now hear a marvel: whereas thou sayest these two times that out of one man ye may get but one man's work, in days to come one man shall do the work of a hundred men — yea, of a thousand or more: and this is the shift of mastership that shall make many masters and many rich men.
- Ch. 12: Ill Would Change Be At Whiles Were It Not For The Change Beyond The Change.
- To thee, when thou didst try to conceive of them, the ways of the days to come seemed follies scarce to be thought of; yet shall they come to be familiar things, and an order by which every man liveth, ill as he liveth, so that men shall deem of them, that thus it hath been since the beginning of the world, and that thus it shall be while the world endureth... Yet in time shall this also grow old, and doubt shall creep in, because men shall scarce be able to live by that order, and the complaint of the poor shall be hearkened, no longer as a tale not utterly grievous, but as a threat of ruin, and a fear. Then shall these things, which to thee seem follies, and to the men between thee and me mere wisdom and the bond of stability, seem follies once again; yet, whereas men have so long lived by them, they shall cling to them yet from blindness and from fear; and those that see, and that have thus much conquered fear that they are furthering the real time that cometh and not the dream that faileth, these men shall the blind and the fearful mock and missay, and torment and murder: and great and grievous shall be the strife in those days, and many the failures of the wise, and too oft sore shall be the despair of the valiant; and back-sliding, and doubt, and contest between friends and fellows lacking time in the hubbub to understand each other, shall grieve many hearts and hinder the Host of the Fellowship: yet shall all bring about the end, till thy deeming of folly and ours shall be one, and thy hope and our hope; and then — the Day will have come.
- Ch. 12: Ill Would Change Be At Whiles Were It Not For The Change Beyond The Change.
Signs of Change (1888)Edit
How We Live And How We Might LiveEdit
- The word Revolution, which we Socialists are so often forced to use, has a terrible sound in most people's ears, even when we have explained to them that it does not necessarily mean a change accompanied by riot and all kinds of violence, and cannot mean a change made mechanically and in the teeth of opinion by a group of men who have somehow managed to seize on the executive power for the moment. Even when we explain that we use the word revolution in its etymological sense, and mean by it a change in the basis of society, people are scared at the idea of such a vast change, and beg that you will speak of reform and not revolution. As, however, we Socialists do not at all mean by our word revolution what these worthy people mean by their word reform, I can't help thinking that it would be a mistake to use it, whatever projects we might conceal beneath its harmless envelope. So we will stick to our word, which means a change of the basis of society; it may frighten people, but it will at least warn them that there is something to be frightened about, which will be no less dangerous for being ignored; and also it may encourage some people, and will mean to them at least not a fear, but a hope.
- Fear and Hope — those are the names of the two great passions which rule the race of man, and with which revolutionists have to deal; to give hope to the many oppressed and fear to the few oppressors, that is our business; if we do the first and give hope to the many, the few must be frightened by their hope; otherwise we do not want to frighten them; it is not revenge we want for poor people, but happiness; indeed, what revenge can be taken for all the thousands of years of the sufferings of the poor?
The Aims of ArtEdit
- Soon there will be nothing left except the lying dreams of history, the miserable wreckage of our museums and picture-galleries, and the carefully guarded interiors of our aesthetic drawing-rooms, unreal and foolish, fitting witnesses of the life of corruption that goes on there, so pinched and meagre and cowardly, with its concealment and ignoring, rather than restraint of, natural longings; which does not forbid the greedy indulgence in them if it can but be decently hidden.
- I have said as much as that the aim of art was to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy hope of producing something worth its exercise.
- This has sometimes appeared in paraphrased form as: "The aim of art is to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy hope of producing something worth the exercise".
Useful Work versus Useless ToilEdit
- I think that to all living things there is a pleasure in the exercise of their energies, and that even beasts rejoice in being lithe and swift and strong. But a man at work, making something which he feels will exist because he is working at it and wills it, is exercising the energies of his mind and soul as well as of his body. Memory and imagination help him as he works. Not only his own thoughts, but the thoughts of the men of past ages guide his hands; and, as a part of the human race, he creates. If we work thus we shall be men, and our days will be happy and eventful.
- Worthy work carries with it the hope of pleasure in rest, the hope of the pleasure in our using what it makes, and the hope of pleasure in our daily creative skill.
All other work but this is worthless; it is slaves' work — mere toiling to live, that we may live to toil.
News from Nowhere (1890)Edit
- Go back again, now you have seen us, and your outward eyes have learned that in spite of all the infallible maxims of your day there is yet a time of rest in store for the world, when mastery has changed into fellowship — but not before. Go back again, then, and while you live you will see all round you people engaged in making others live lives which are not their own, while they themselves care nothing for their own real lives — men who hate life though they fear death. Go back and be the happier for having seen us, for having added a little hope to your struggle. Go on living while you may, striving, with whatsoever pain and labour needs must be, to build up little by little the new day of fellowship, and rest, and happiness.
- If others can see it as I have seen it, then it may be called a vision rather than a dream.
Quotes about MorrisEdit
- I cannot help thinking that it does not matter what goes into the Clarion this week, because William Morris is dead. And what socialist will care for any other news this week, beyond that one sad fact? …
William Morris was our best man; and he is dead. It is true that much of his work still lives, and will live. But we have lost him, and, great as was his work, he himself was greater. Many a man of genius is dwarfed by his creations. We could all name men whose personalities seem unworthy of their own words and actions; men who resemble mean jars filled with honey, or foul lamps emitting brilliant beams. Morris was of a nobler kind. He was better than his best. Though his words fell like sword strokes, one always felt that the warrior was stronger than the sword. For Morris was not only a genius, he was a man. Strike at him where you would, he rang true. … His face was as honest as a lion's and you accepted his word as you accept a date from the almanac. This is a censorious world, and as a rule, let a man be chaste as ice, pure as snow, he shall not escape calumny. Yet I have never heard a single word of detraction or dislike spoken of William Morris. Nor is there a Socialist to-day in England but will feel that he has lost a friend.
He was our best man. We cannot spare him; we cannot replace him. In all England there lives no braver, kinder, honester, cleverer, heartier man than William Morris. He is dead, and we cannot help feeling for a while that nothing else matters.
- Robert Blatchford in The Clarion (October 1896).
- When I first knew Morris nothing would content him but being a monk, and getting to Rome, and then he must be an architect, and apprenticed himself to Street, and worked for two years, but when I came to London and began to paint he threw it all up, and must paint too, and then he must give it up and make poems, and then he must give it up and make window hangings and pretty things, and when he had achieved that, he must be a poet again, and then after two or three years of Earthly Paradise time, he must learn dyeing, and lived in a vat, and learned weaving, and knew all about looms, and then made more books, and learned tapestry, and then wanted to smash everything up and begin the world anew, and now it is printing he cares for, and to make wonderful rich-looking books — and all things he does splendidly — and if he lives the printing will have an end — but not I hope, before Chaucer and the Morte d'Arthur are done; then he'll do I don't know what, but every minute will be alive.
- Edward Burne-Jones, as quoted in Time Remembered (1933) by Frances Horner, p. 14.
- Where Morris beats the cerebral utopists all hollow is in the materiality of his imagination. To lead a decent human life in a cramped, featureless, unvaried environment is a tough job; the twenty-story-slab housing development, the hundred-cubicle office, the windows that cannot be opened because the interior "climate" is controlled, the faceless Bauhaus exterior-all utopian in their way, I guess. But not my utopia, or his.
- 2006 interview in Conversations with Ursula Le Guin
- We need a return to the William Morris broad conception of art in relation to life, in terms of colours and designs and craftsmanship, and windows opening on to Heaven, instead of narrowing it down to the preciosities of cliques and coteries who seek through their obscurities to keep art esoteric.
- Ethel Mannin, in Privileged Spectator, 1939.
- William Morris's News from Nowhere, an anarchist utopian novel in which women possess both equality and a natural predilection for the tasks of domesticity...Morris, along with a host of other nineteenth-century men, obviously believed that to engage in the role of helpmeet, to cook, to clean, and to run a house were natural female functions. Therefore, women of his utopia did not consider such duties evidence of inequality.
- Margaret S Marsh, Anarchist Women, 1870-1920 (1981)
- News from Nowhere was one of Voltairine de Cleyre's favorite books
- Margaret S Marsh, Anarchist Women, 1870-1920 (1981)
- It is Morris... who can properly be called the first English Marxist. This truth has been but slowly recognised, not only by the reformists and anarchists who each, in their own fashion, have tried to annex him, but also by Marxists.
- Arthur Leslie Morton, in Political Writings of William Morris (1973), p. 21.
- So far Morris is the true prophet of the 20th century. We owe it to him that an ordinary man's dwelling-house has once more become a worthy object of the architect's thought, and a chair, a wallpaper, or a vase, a worthy object of the artist's imagination.
- Nikolaus Pevsner, in Pioneers of Modern Design (1936).
- Hence has arisen that exaltation of the defective, of which John Ruskin and William Morris were such eager spokesmen in their time; and on this ground their propaganda of crudity and wasted effort has been taken up and carried forward since their time. And hence also the propaganda for a return to handicraft and household industry. So much of the work and speculations of this group of men as fairly comes under the characterization here given would have been impossible at a time when the visibly more perfect goods were not the cheaper.
- Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899).
- William Morris pleaded well for simplicity as the basis of all true art. Let us understand the significance to art of that word — SIMPLICITY — for it is vital to the Art of the Machine.
- Frank Lloyd Wright, in "The Art and Craft of the Machine", a lecture to the Chicago Arts & Crafts Society (6 March 1901).
- The Online Books Page (University of Pennsylvania)
- Online works at Project Gutenberg
- Online works at marxists.org
- A Dream of John Ball at the University of Virginia
- Selected poetry at the University of Toronto
- Manuscripts online at the International Institute of Social History
- William Morris and his Circle
- William Morris Stained Glass
- The William Morris Gallery (London Borough of Waltham Forest)
- The William Morris Gallery is threatened with closure (Campaign to keep the gallery open)
- The William Morris Society
- William Morris Tiles and Textiles
- William Morris Exhibition