The Words of Lord Dunsany
Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany (1878 – 1957) was an Anglo-Irish writer and dramatist, who published mainly fantasy under the name Lord Dunsany, including more than eighty books, hundreds of published short stories, plays, novels and essays. The 1924 fantasy novel The King of Elfland's Daughter is his most famous work. During the 1910s Dunsany was considered one of the greatest living writers of the English-speaking world. Born and raised in London, to the second-oldest title in the Irish peerage (created in 1439), Dunsany lived in Ireland's longest-inhabited house, Dunsany Castle near Tara, was chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland, and worked with W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. He died in Dublin from appendicitis.
Here are some of his most memorable quotes:
'It is very difficult to draw away from the face of God—it is like a warm fire, it is like dear sleep, it is like a great anthem, yet there is a stillness all about it, a stillness full of lights.'
'He approached the stranger and drew his sword.
'Señor,' he said, 'we will now discuss music.'
'A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.'
'For a while, O King, the gods had sought to solve the riddles of Time, for a while They made him Their slave, and Time smiled and obeyed his masters, for a while, O King, for a while. He that hath spared nothing hath not spared the gods, nor yet shall he spare thee.'
'And little he knew of the things that ink may do, how it can mark a dead man's thought for the wonder of later years, and tell of happenings that are gone clean away, and be a voice for us out of the dark of time, and save many a fragile thing from the pounding of heavy ages; or carry to us, over the rolling centuries, even a song from lips long dead on forgotten hills.'
'And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him.’
'And at that moment a wind came out of the northwest, and entered the woods and bared the golden branches, and danced over the downs, and led a company of scarlet and golden leaves, that had dreaded this day but danced now it had come; and away with a riot of dancing and glory of colour, high in the light of the sun that had set from the sight of the fields, went wind and leaves together.'
'Bricks without straw are more easily made than imagination without memories.'
'And she would not hold back his limbs when his heart was gone to the woods, for it is ever the way of witches with any two things to care for the more mysterious of the two.'
'What could she do who would not cast away magic and leave the home that an ageless day had endeared to her while centuries were withering like leaves upon earthly shores, whose heart was yet held by those little tendrils of Earth, which are strong enough, strong enough?’
'But at least' said Satan in the deeps of my mind, 'know what the temptation is before you do anything hastily.’
'There is no beauty or romance or mystery in the sea except for the men that sail abroad upon it, and those who stay at home and dream of them.'
'„It was a credulous age... as all ages are.'
'Come with me, ladies and gentlemen who are in any wise weary of London: come with me: and those that tire at all of the world we know: for we have new worlds here.'
'Humanity, let us say, is like people packed in an automobile which is traveling downhill without lights at terrific speed and driven by a four-year-old child. The signposts along the way are all marked 'Progress.'
'Then I perceived, what I had never thought, that all these staring houses were not alike, but different one from another, because they held different dreams.'
'Yet in the blood of man there is a tide, an old sea-current rather, that is somehow akin to the twilight, which brings him rumours of beauty from however far away, as driftwood is found at sea from islands not yet discovered: and this spring-tide or current that visits the blood of man comes from the fabulous quarter of his lineage, from the legendary, the old; it takes him out to the woodlands, out to the hills; he listens to ancient song.'
'So he sat and listened to pigeons talking, till it seemed to him they were trying to lull the restlessness of Earth, and thought that they might by drowsy incantation be putting some spell against time, through which it could not come to harm their nests; for the power of time was not made clear to him yet and he knew not yet that nothing in our fields has the strength to hold out against time.'
'And you that sought for magic in your youth but desire it not in your age, know that there is a blindness of spirit which comes from age, more black than the blindness of eye, making a darkness about you across which nothing may be seen, or felt, or known, or in any way apprehended.'
'There is indeed a great deal of futility amongst the human race which we do not commonly see, for it all forms part of our illusion; but let a man be much annoyed by something that others do, so that he is separated from them and has to leave them, and looks back at what they are doing, and he'll see at once all manner of whimsical absurdities that he had not noticed before.'
'If one who looked from a tower for a new star, watching for years the same part of the sky, suddenly saw it (quite by chance while thinking of other things), and knew it for the star for which he had hoped, how many millions of men would never care?'
'It has always struck me that one of the readiest ways of estimating a country's regard for law is to notice what arms the officers of the law are carrying: in England it is little batons, in France swords, in many countries revolvers, and in Russia the police used to have artillery.'
'Once I found out the secret of the universe. I have forgotten what it was, but I know that the Creator does not take Creation seriously, for I remember that He sat in Space with all His work in front of Him and laughed.'
'Nobody can tell you about that sword all that there is to be told of it; for those that know of those paths of Space on which its metals once floated, till Earth caught them one by one as she sailed past on her orbit, have little time to waste on such things as magic and so cannot tell you how the sword was made, and those who know whence poetry is, and the need that man has for song, or know any one of the fifty branches of magic, have little time to waste on such things as science, and so cannot tell you whence its ingredients came. Enough that it was once beyond our Earth and was now here amongst our mundane stones; that it was once but as those stones, and now had something in it such as soft music has; let those that can define it.'
'Ivy dreams sullenly and alone of overthrowing the cities.'
'All we who write put me in mind of sailors hastily making rafts upon doomed ships. When we break up under the heavy years and go down into eternity with all that is ours our thoughts like small lost rafts float on awhile upon Oblivion's sea. They will not carry much over those tides, our names and a phrase or two and little else.’
'...she gave thanks to the images of the stars for the joy she had had of the night, when the constellations shone in their myriad majesty, and moved like an army dresses in silver mail, marching from unknown victories to conquer in distant wars. She praised those bright reflections shimmering down in the pool.'
'I have lived to see that being seventeen is no protection against becoming seventy, but to know this needs the experience of a lifetime, for no imagination copes with it.'