An Irishman needs three things: silence, cunnning, and exile.
I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use—silence, exile and cunning.
Topics: Identity, Defense
I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s mortality.
While you have a thing it can be taken from you… but when you give it, you have given it. No robber can take it from you. It is yours then for ever when you have given it. It will be yours always. That is to give.
Topics: Giving, Charity
He comes into the world God knows how, walks on the water, gets out of his grave and goes up off the Hill of Howth. What drivel is this?
What did that mean, to kiss? You put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?
All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light, but though I seem to be driven out of my country as a misbeliever I have found no man yet with a faith like mine.
Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by posterity because he was the last to discover America.
Sentimentality is unearned emotion.
A man’s errors are his portal to discovery.
Love (understood as the desire of good for another) is in fact so unnatural a phenomenon that it can scarcely repeat itself, the soul being unable to become virgin again and not having energy enough to cast itself out again into the ocean of another’s soul.
A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.
I shall write a book some day about the appropriateness of names. Geoffrey Chaucer has a ribald ring, as is proper and correct, and Alexander Pope was inevitably Alexander Pope. Colley Cibber was a silly little man without much elegance and Shelley was very Percy and very Bysshe.
Topics: Names, Identity
A tide began to surge beneath the calm surface of Stephen’s friendliness.
This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am.
Try to be one of us, repeated Davin. In your heart you are an Irishman but your pride is too powerful.
My ancestors threw off their language and took another, Stephen said. They allowed a handful of foreigners to subject them. Do you fancy that I am going to pay in my own life and person debts they made? What for?
For our freedom, said Davin.
No honourable and sincere man, said Stephen, has given up to you his life and his youth and his affections from the days of Wolfe Tone to those of Parnell, but you sold him to the enemy or failed him in need or reviled him and left him for another. And you invite me to be one of you. I’d see you damned first.
They died for their ideals, Stevie, said Davin. Our day will come yet, believe me.
Stephen, following his own thought, was silent for an instant…
When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets … Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.
The present is the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.
Topics: The Present
Saying that a great genius is mad, while at the same time recognizing his artistic worth, is like saying that he had rheumatism or suffered from diabetes. Madness, in fact, is a medical term that can claim no more notice from the objective critic than he grants the charge of heresy raised by the theologian, or the charge of immorality raised by the police.
You cannot eat your cake and have it.
Topics: Proverbial Wisdom
When the Irishman is found outside of Ireland in another environment, he very often becomes a respected man. The economic and intellectual conditions that prevail in his own country do not permit the development of individuality. No one who has any self-respect stays in Ireland, but flees afar as though from a country that has undergone the visitation of an angered Jove.
When I heard the word “stream” uttered with such a revolting primness, what I think of is urine and not the contemporary novel. And besides, it isn’t new, it is far from the dernier cri. Shakespeare used it continually, much too much in my opinion, and there’s Tristam Shandy, not to mention the Agamemnon.
Heart of my heart, were it more,
More would be laid at your feet.
He is incapable of a truly good action who finds not a pleasure in contemplating the good actions of others.
Michael Robartes remembers forgotten beauty and, when his arms wrap her round, he presses in his arms the loveliness which has long faded from the world. Not this. Not at all. I desire to press in my arms the loveliness which has not yet come into the world.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Sheridan Le Fanu Irish Novelist
- Elizabeth Bowen Irish Novelist
- Oscar Wilde Irish Poet, Playwright
- Brendan Behan Irish Poet
- Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington Irish Novelist
- Jonathan Swift Irish Satirist
- Laurence Sterne Irish Anglican Novelist
- Joyce Cary English Novelist
- Samuel Lover Irish Writer, Artist, Songwriter
- William Butler Yeats Irish Poet