John Ruskin

(1819-1900 / England)

John Ruskin Quotes

  • ''Of all the things that oppress me, this sense of the evil working of nature herself—my disgust at her barbarity—clumsiness—darkness—bitter mockery of herself—is the most desolating.''
    John Ruskin (1819-F1900), British art critic, author. Letter, April 3, 1871. quoted in Ruskin Today, sct. 115, ed. Kenneth Clark (1964).
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  • ''Men are more evanescent than pictures, yet one sorrows for lost friends, and pictures are my friends. I have none others. I am never long enough with men to attach myself to them; and whatever feelings of attachment I have are to material things.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. letter, Jan. 28, 1852, to his father. quoted in Ruskin Today, sct. 36, ed. Kenneth Clark (1964).
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  • ''Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. Sesame and Lilies, preface (1865).
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  • ''How long most people would look at the best book before they would give the price of a large turbot for it?''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. repr. in The Works of John Ruskin, vol. 18, eds. E.T. Cook and Alexander Weddesburn (1905). Sesame and Lilies, lecture 1, sct. 32 (1865).
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  • ''You might sooner get lightning out of incense smoke than true action or passion out of your modern English religion.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. Sesame and Lilies, lecture 1 (1865).
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  • ''All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour, and the books of all time.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. Sesame and Lilies, lecture 1 (1865).
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  • ''Nearly all the evils in the Church have arisen from bishops desiring power more than light. They want authority, not outlook.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. Sesame and Lilies, lecture 1, sct. 22, repr. in The Works of John Ruskin, vol. 18, eds. E.T. Cook and Alexander Weddesburn (1905).
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  • ''Be sure that you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find yours.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. repr. in The Works of John Ruskin, vol. 18, eds. E.T. Cook and Alexander Weddesburn (1905). Sesame and Lilies, lecture 1, sct. 13, no. 2 (1865).
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  • ''You may chisel a boy into shape, as you would a rock, or hammer him into it, if he be of a better kind, as you would a piece of bronze. But you cannot hammer a girl into anything. She grows as a flower does.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. repr. in The Works of John Ruskin, vol. 18, eds. E.T. Cook and Alexander Weddesburn (1905). Sesame and Lilies, lecture 2, sct. 78 (1865).
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  • ''When we build, let us think that we build for ever.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. Seven Lamps of Architecture, "The Lamp of Memory," sct. 10 (1849).
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Best Poem of John Ruskin

The Last Smile

She sat beside me yesterday
With lip, and eye, so blandly smiling,
So full of soul, of life, of light,
So sweetly my lorn heart beguiling
That she had almost made me gay
Had almost charmed the thought away
(Which, like the poisoned desert wind,
Came sick and heavy o'er my mind)
That memory soon mine all would be,
And she would smile no more for me.

Read the full of The Last Smile

Night

Faint from the bell the ghastly echoes fall,
That grates within the grey cathedral tower;
Let me not enter through the portal tall,
Lest the strange spirit of the moonless hour
Should give a life to those pale people, who
Lie in their fretted niches, two and two,
Each with his head on pillowy stone reposed,
And his hands lifted, and his eyelids closed.

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