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In days of yore, the poet's pen
From wing of bird was plunder'd,
Perhaps of goose, but now and then,
From Jove's own eagle sunder'd.
But now, metallic pens disclose
Alone the poet's numbers;
In iron inspiration glows,
Or with the poet slumbers.
- John Adams
The poet's pen is the true divining rod
Which trembles towards the inner founts of feeling;
Bringing to light and use, else hid from all,
The many sweet clear sources which we have of good and beauty in our own deep bosoms;
And marks the variations of all mind
As does the needle.
- Philip James Bailey
Art thou a pen, whose task shall be
To drown in ink
What writers think?
Oh, wisely write,
That pages white
Be not the worse for ink and thee.
- Ethel Lynn Beers (Ethelinda Eliot),
The Gold Nugget
Whose noble praise
Deserves a quill pluckt from an angel's wing.
- Dorothy Berry, Sonnet,
prefixed to Diana Primrose's "Chair of Pearls"
I had rather stand the shock of a basilisk than the fury of a merciless pen.
- Sir Thomas Browne
Take away the sword;
States can be saved without it; bring the pen.
- Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword.
- Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton,
Richelieu (act II, sc. 2)
From this it appears how much more cruel the pen may be than the sword.
[Lat., Hinc quam sit calamus saevior euse, patet.]
- Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy
(pt. I, sec. XXI, mem. 4, subsec. 4)
Oh! nature's noblest gift--my gray-goose quill!
Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will,
Torn from thy parent-bird to form a pen,
That might instrument of little men!
- Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron),
English Bards and Scotch Reviewers
The pen wherewith thou dost so heavenly sing
Made of a quill from an angel's wing.
- Henry Constable, Sonnet,
found in Notes to Todd's "Milton", vol. V, p. 454 (ed. 1826)
For what made that in glory shine so long
But poets' Pens, pluckt from Archangels' wings?
- Sir John Davies, Bien Venu
The pen is mightier than the sword.
- Benjamin Franklin, Oration
The strokes of the pen need deliberation as much as those of the sword need swiftness.
- Julia Ward Howe (Howel)
Goose [pen] bee [wax] and calf [parchment] govern the world.
[Lat., Anser, apie, vitellus, populus et regna gubernant.]
- quoted by James Howell (Howel), Letters
(bk. II, letter 2)
No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand (than Goldsmith), or more wise when he had.
- Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")
The pen became a clarion.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Monte Cassino
The swifter hand doth the swift words outrun:
Before the tongue hath spoke the hand hath done.
- Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
Epigrams (bk. XIV, ep. 208),
(translation by Wright), on a shorthand writer
I'll make thee glorious by my pen
And famous by my sword.
- James Graham, 1st Marquis and 5th Earl of Montrose (The Great Marquis),
My Dear and Only Love
The sacred Dove a quill did lend
From her high-soaring wing.
- Sir Francis Nethersole,
prefixed to Giles Fletcher's "Christ's Victorie"
The chisel is the pen of the sculptor.
- Pope Pius IX
The pen is a formidable weapon; but a man can kill himself with it a great deal more easily than he can other people.
- George Denison Prentice
Men of quality are in the wrong to undervalue, as they often do, the practise of a fair and quick hand in writing; for it is no immaterial accomplishment.
[Lat., Non sest aliena res, quae fere ab honestis negligi solet, cura bene ac velociter scribendi.]
- Quintilian (Marcus Fabius Quintilianus),
De Institutione Oratoria (I, 5)
If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.
[Fr., Qu'on me donne six lignes ecrites de la main du plus honnete homme, j'y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.]
- attributed to Armand Jean du Plessis Duc de Richelieu,
by Fournier "L'Esprit dans l'Historie", ch. XLI, p. 255 (1883)
So far had the pen, under the king, the superiority over the sword.
[Fr., Tant la plume a eu sous le roi d'avantage sur l'epee.]
- Louis de Rouvroy duc de St. Simon,
(vol. III, p. 517 (1702) (ed. 1856))
I'll make thee famous by my pen,
And glorious by my sword.
- Sir Walter Scott, Legend of Montrose
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