Matthew Prior

(1664 - 1721 / Dorset / England)

Quotations

  • ''What I speak, my fair Chloe, and what I write, shows
    The difference there is betwixt Nature and Art:
    I court others in verse, but I love thee in prose;
    And they have my whimsies, but thou hast my heart.''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet. Answer to Cloe Jealous (l. 13-16). . . New Oxford Book of English Verse, The, 1250-1950. Helen Gardner, ed. (1972) Oxford University Press.
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  • ''A diff'rent cause, says Parson Sly,
    The same effect may give:
    Poor Lubin fears, that he shall die;
    His wife, that he may live.''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet. A Reasonable Affliction (l. 5-8). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • '''No, no; for my virginity,
    When I lose that,' says Rose, 'I'll die':
    'Behind the elms last night,' cried Dick,
    'Rose, were you not extremely sick?'''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet. A True Maid (l. 1-4). . . Norton Introduction to Poetry, The. J. Paul Hunter, ed. (3d ed., 1986) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''Forbear to mention what thou canst not praise.''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet, diplomat. Carmen Seculare.
  • ''To John I owed great obligation;
    But John, unhappily, thought fit
    To publish it to all the nation:
    Sure John and I are more than quit.''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet, diplomat. repr. In The Writings of Matthew Prior (1905). EpigramAnother, Poems (1718).
  • ''Nor good, nor bad, nor fools, nor wise,
    They would not learn, nor could advise:
    Without love, hatred, joy or fear,
    They led—a kind of—as it were:
    Nor wished, nor cared, nor laughed, nor cried:
    And so they lived; and so they died.''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet. Interred beneath this marble stone (l. 57-62). . . Oxford Book of Death, The. D. J. Enright, ed. (1987) Oxford University Press.
  • ''Interred beneath this marble stone
    Lie Saunt'ring Jack and Idle Joan.''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet. Interred beneath this marble stone (l. 1-2). . . Oxford Book of Death, The. D. J. Enright, ed. (1987) Oxford University Press.
  • ''Less smooth than her Skin and less white than her breast
    Was this pollisht stone beneath which she lyes prest
    Stop, Reader, and Sigh while thou thinkst on the rest

    With a just trim of Virtue her Soul was endu'd
    Not affectedly Pious nor secretly lewd,
    She cut even between the Cocquet and the Prude.''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet. Jinny the Just (l. 62-68). . . Oxford Book of English Verse, The, 1250-1918. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (New ed., rev. and enl., 1939) Oxford University Press.
  • ''But Thou that know'st Love above Intrest or lust
    Strew the Myrtle and Rose on this once belov'd Dust
    And shed one pious tear upon Jinny the Just
    Tread soft on her Grave, and do right to her honor
    Let neither rude hand no ill Tongue light upon her
    Do all the smal Favors that now can be done her''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), British poet. Jinny the Just (l. 13-18). . . Oxford Book of English Verse, The, 1250-1918. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (New ed., rev. and enl., 1939) Oxford University Press.
  • ''Venus, take my votive glass:
    Since I am not what I was,
    What from this day I shall be,
    Venus, let me never see.''
    Matthew Prior (1664-1721), U.S. poet. The Lady Who Offers Her Looking-Glass to Venus (l. 1-4). . . Oxford Book of Short Poems, The. P. J. Kavanagh and James Michie, eds. Oxford University Press.

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An Epitaph

Interr'd beneath this marble stone,
Lie saunt'ring Jack and idle Joan.
While rolling threescore years and one
Did round this globe their courses run;
If human things went ill or well;
If changing empires rose or fell;
The morning passed, the evening came,
And found this couple still the same.
They walk'd and eat, good folks: what then?

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