Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


Music religious heat inspires,
It wakes the soul, and lifts it high,
And wings it with sublime desires,
And fits it to bespeak the Deity.
Addison—A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day. St. 4.

Music exalts each joy, allays each grief,
Expels diseases, softens every pain,
Subdues the rage of poison, and the plague.
John Armstrong—Art of Preserving Health. Bk. IV. L. 512.

That rich celestial music thrilled the air
From hosts on hosts of shining ones, who thronged
Eastward and westward, making bright the night.
Edwin Arnold—Light of Asia. Bk. IV. L. 418.

Music tells no truths.
Bailey—Festus. Sc. A Village Feast.

Rugged the breast that music cannot tame.
J. C. Bampfylde—Sonnet.

If music and sweet poetry agree.

Gayly the troubadour
Touched his guitar.
Thomas Haynes Bayly—Welcome Me Home.

I’m saddest when I sing.
Thomas Haynes Bayly—You think I have a merry heart.

God is its author, and not man; he laid
The key-note of all harmonies; he planned
All perfect combinations, and he made
Us so that we could hear and understand.
J. G. Brainard—Music.

The rustle of the leaves in summer’s hush
When wandering breezes touch them, and the sigh
That filters through the forest, or the gush
That swells and sinks amid the branches high,—
’Tis all the music of the wind, and we
Let fancy float on this æolian breath.
J. G. Brainard—Music.

“Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast,”
And therefore proper at a sheriff’s feast.
James Bramston—Man of Taste. First line quoted from Prior.

And sure there is music even in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument; for there is music wherever there is harmony, order, or proportion; and thus far we may maintain the music of the spheres.
Sir Thomas Browne—Religio Medici. Pt. II. Sec. IX. Use of the phrase “Music of the Spheres” given by Bishop Martin Fotherby—Athconastrix. P. 315. (Ed. 1622). Said by Bishop John Wilkins—Discovery of a New World. I. 42. (Ed. 1694).

Yet half the beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh, as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man.
The true gods sigh for the cost and the pain—
For the reed that grows never more again
As a reed with the reeds of the river.
E. B. Browning—A Musical Instrument.

Her voice, the music of the spheres,
So loud, it deafens mortals’ ears;
As wise philosophers have thought,
And that’s the cause we hear it not.
Butler—Hudibras. Pt. II. Canto I. L. 617.

For discords make the sweetest airs.
Butler—Hudibras. Pt. III. Canto I. L. 919.

Soprano, basso, even the contra-alto
Wished him five fathom under the Rialto.
Byron—Beppo. St. 32.

Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look’d love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto III. St. 21.

There’s music in the sighing of a reed;
There’s music in the gushing of a rill;
There’s music in all things, if men had ears:
Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto XV. St. 5.

And hears thy stormy music in the drum!
Campbell—Pleasures of Hope. Pt. I.

Merrily sang the monks in Ely
When Cnut, King, rowed thereby;
Row, my knights, near the land,
And hear we these monkes’ song.
Attributed to King Canute—Song of the Monks of Ely, in Spens—History of the English People. Historia Eliensis. (1066). Chambers’ Ency. of English Literature.

Music is well said to be the speech of angels.
Carlyle—Essays. The Opera.

When music, heavenly maid, was young,
While yet in early Greece she sung,
The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
Throng’d around her magic cell.
Collins—Passions. L. 1.

In notes by distance made more sweet.
Collins—Passions. L. 60.

In hollow murmurs died away.
Collins—Passions. L. 68.

Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
I’ve read that things inanimate have moved,
And, as with living souls, have been inform’d,
By magic numbers and persuasive sound.
Congreve—The Mourning Bride. Act I. Sc. 1.

And when the music goes te-toot,
The monkey acts so funny
That we all hurry up and scoot
To get some monkey-money.
M-double-unk for the monkey,
M-double-an for the man;
M-double unky, hunky monkey,
Hunkey monkey-man.
Ever since the world began
Children danced and children ran
When they heard the monkey-man,
The m-double-unky man.
Edmund Vance Cooke—The Monkey-Man. I rule the House.

Water and air He for the Tenor chose,
Earth made the Base, the Treble Flame arose,
To th’ active Moon a quick brisk stroke he gave,
To Saturn’s string a touch more soft and grave.
The motions strait, and round, and swift, and slow,
And short and long, were mixt and woven so,
Did in such artful Figures smoothly fall,
As made this decent measur’d Dance of all.
And this is Musick.
Cowley—Davideis. Bk. I. P. 13. (1668).

With melting airs, or martial, brisk, or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch’d within us, and the heart replies.
Cowper—The Task. Bk. VI. Winter Walk at Noon. L. 3.

The soft complaining flute
In dying notes discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper’d by the warbling lute.
Dryden—A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day.

Music sweeps by me as a messenger
Carrying a message that is not for me.
George Eliot—Spanish Gypsy. Bk. III.

’Tis God gives skill,
But not without men’s hands: He could not make
Antonio Stradivari’s violins
Without Antonio.
George Eliot—Stradivarius. L. 151.

The silent organ loudest chants
The master’s requiem.

Our ’prentice, Tom, may now refuse
To wipe his scoundrel master’s shoes;
For now he’s free to sing and play
Over the hills and far away.
Farquhar—Over the Hills and Far Away. Act II. Sc. 3.

But Bellenden we needs must praise,
Who as down the stairs she jumps
Sings o’er the hill and far away,
Despising doleful dumps.
Distracted Jockey’s Lamentation. Pills to Purge Melancholy.

Tom he was a piper’s son,
He learned to play when he was young;
But all the tune that he could play
Was “Over the hills and far away.”
Distracted Jockey’s Lamentation. Pills to Purge Melancholy found in The Nursery Rhymes of England by Halliwell Phillips.

When I was young and had no sense
I bought a fiddle for eighteen pence,
And all the tunes that I could play
Was, “Over the Hills and Far Away.”
Old Ballad, in the Pedlar’s Pack of Ballads and Songs.

Blasen ist nicht flöten, ihr müsst die Finger bewegen.
To blow is not to play on the flute; you must move the fingers.
Goethe—Sprüche in Prosa. III.

Jack Whaley had a cow,
And he had nought to feed her;
He took his pipe and played a tune,
And bid the cow consider.
Old Scotch and North of Ireland ballad. Lady Granville uses it in a letter. (1836).

Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Gray—Elegy in a Country Church Yard. St. 10.

He stood beside a cottage lone,
And listened to a lute,
One summer’s eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute.
Thos. Hervey—The Devil’s Progress.

Why should the devil have all the good tunes?
Rowland Hill—Sermons. In his biography by E. W. Broome. P. 93.

Music was a thing of the soul—a rose-lipped shell that murmured of the eternal sea—a strange bird singing the songs of another shore.
J. G. Holland—Plain Talks on Familiar Subjects. Art and Life.

From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathéd horn.
Holmes—Chambered Nautilus.

Ridetur chorda qui semper oberrat eadem.
The musician who always plays on the same string, is laughed at.
Horace—Ars Poetica. 355.

Play uppe, play uppe, O Boston bells!
Ply all your changes, all your swells,
Play uppe “The Brides of Enderby.”
Jean Ingelow—High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire.

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.
Job. XXXVIII. 7.

Ere music’s golden tongue
Flattered to tears this aged man and poor.
Keats—The Eve of St. Agnes. St. 3.

The silver, snarling trumpets ’gan to chide.
Keats—The Eve of St. Agnes. St. 4.

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone.
eats—Ode on a Grecian Urn.

I even think that, sentimentally, I am disposed to harmony. But organically I am incapable of a tune.
Lamb—A Chapter on Ears.

A velvet flute-note fell down pleasantly,
Upon the bosom of that harmony,
And sailed and sailed incessantly,
As if a petal from a wild-rose blown
Had fluttered down upon that pool of tone,
And boatwise dropped o’ the convex side
And floated down the glassy tide
And clarified and glorified
The solemn spaces where the shadows bide.
From the warm concave of that fluted note
Somewhat, half song, half odour forth did float
As if a rose might somehow be a throat.
Sidney Lanier—The Symphony.

Music is in all growing things;
And underneath the silky wings
Of smallest insects there is stirred
A pulse of air that must be heard;
Earth’s silence lives, and throbs, and sings.
Lathrop—Music of Growth.

Writ in the climate of heaven, in the language spoken by angels.
Longfellow—The Children of the Lord’s Supper. L. 262.

Yea, music is the Prophet’s art
Among the gifts that God hath sent,
One of the most magnificent!
Longfellow—Christus. Pt. III. Second Interlude. St. 5.

When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
Longfellow—Evangeline. Pt. I. 1.

He is dead, the sweet musician!
He has moved a little nearer
To the Master of all music.
Longfellow—Hiawatha. Pt. XV. L. 56.

Music is the universal language of mankind.
Longfellow—Outre-Mer. Ancient Spanish Ballads.

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Longfellow—The Day is Done. St. 8.

Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie.
Milton—Arcades. L. 68.

Who shall silence all the airs and madrigals that whisper softness in chambers?

Can any mortal mixture of earth’s mould
Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment?
Milton—Comus. L. 244.

Ring out ye crystal spheres!
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the base of Heaven’s deep organ blow,
And with your ninefold harmony,
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.
Milton—Hymn on the Nativity. St. 13.

There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full voiced quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all heaven before mine eyes.
Milton—Il Penseroso. L. 161.

Untwisting all the chains that tie the hidden soul of harmony.
Milton—L’Allegro. L. 143.

As in an organ from one blast of wind
To many a row of pipes the soundboard breathes.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. I. L. 708.

And in their motions harmony divine
So smoothes her charming tones, that God’s own ear
Listens delighted.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. V. 620.

Mettez, pour me jouer, vos flûtes mieux d’accord.
If you want to play a trick on me, put your flutes more in accord.
Molière—L’Etourdi. Act I. 4.

La musique celeste.
The music of the spheres.
Montaigne. Bk. I. Ch. XXII.

If the pulse of the patriot, soldier, or lover,
Have throbb’d at our lay, ’tis thy glory alone;
I was but as the wind, passing heedlessly over,
And all the wild sweetness I wak’d was thy own.
Moore—Dear Harp of My Country. St. 2.

“This must be music,” said he, “of the spears,
For I am cursed if each note of it doesn’t run through one!”
Moore—Fudge Family in Paris. Letter V. L. 28.

The harp that once through Tara’s halls
The soul of music shed,
Now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls,
As if that soul were fled.
Moore—Harp That Once.

If thou would’st have me sing and play
As once I play’d and sung,
First take this time-worn lute away,
And bring one freshly strung.
Moore—If Thou, Would’st Have Me Sing and Play.

And music too—dear music! that can touch
Beyond all else the soul that loves it much—
Now heard far off, so far as but to seem
Like the faint, exquisite music of a dream.
Moore—Lalla Rookh. The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan.

’Tis believ’d that this harp which I wake now for thee
Was a siren of old who sung under the sea.
Moore—Origin of the Harp.

She played upon her music-box a fancy air by chance,
And straightway all her polka-dots began a lively dance.
Peter Newell—Her Polka Dots.

Apes and ivory, skulls and roses, in junks of old Hong-Kong,
Gliding over a sea of dreams to a haunted shore of song.
Alfred Noyes—Apes and Ivory.

There’s a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street
In the city as the sun sinks low;
And the music’s not immortal; but the world has made it sweet
And fulfilled it with the sunset glow.
Alfred Noyes—Barrel Organ.

Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.
Bill Nye.

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Of whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
A. W. E. O’Shaughnessy—Music Makers.

One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample a kingdom down.
A. W. E. O’Shaughnessy—Music Makers.

How light the touches are that kiss
The music from the chords of life!
Coventry Patmore—By the Sea.

He touched his harp, and nations heard, entranced,
As some vast river of unfailing source,
Rapid, exhaustless, deep, his numbers flowed,
And opened new fountains in the human heart.
Pollok—Course of Time. Bk. IV. L. 674.

Music resembles poetry: in each
Are nameless graces which no methods teach
And which a master-hand alone can reach.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. L. 143.

As some to Church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. L. 343.

What woful stuff this madrigal would be
In some starv’d hackney sonnetteer, or me!
But let a Lord once own the happy lines,
How the wit brightens! how the style refines!
Pope—Essay on Criticism. L. 418.

Light quirks of music, broken and uneven,
Make the soul dance upon a jig to Heav’n.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. IV. L. 143.

By music minds an equal temper know,
Nor swell too high, nor sink too low.
Warriors she fires with animated sounds;
Pours balm into the bleeding lover’s wounds.
Pope—Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day.

Hark! the numbers soft and clear,
Gently steal upon the ear;
Now louder, and yet louder rise
And fill with spreading sounds the skies.
Pope—Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day.

In a sadly pleasing strain
Let the warbling lute complain.
Pope—Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day.

Music’s force can tame the furious beast.

Seated one day at the organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.

I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then,
But I struck one chord of music
Like the sound of a great Amen.
Adelaide A. Procter—Lost Chord. (As set to music, 5th line reads, “I know not what I was playing.”)

We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
Psalms. CXXXVII. 2.

Above the pitch, out of tune, and off the hinges.
Rabelais—Works. Bk. IV. Ch. XIX.

Musik ist Poesie der Luft.
Music is the poetry of the air.
Jean Paul Richter.

Sie zog tief in sein Herz, wie die Melodie eines Liedes, die aus der Kindheit heraufklingt.
It sank deep into his heart, like the melody of a song sounding from out of childhood’s days.
Jean Paul Richter—Hesperus. XII.

The soul of music slumbers in the shell,
Till waked and kindled by the Master’s spell;
And feeling hearts—touch them but lightly—pour
A thousand melodies unheard before!
Sam’l Rogers—Human Life. L. 363.

Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
Antony and Cleopatra. Act II. Sc. 5. L. 1.

I am advised to give her music o’ mornings; they say it will penetrate.
Cymbeline. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 12.

And it will discourse most eloquent music.
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 374. (“Excellent music” in Knight’s ed.)

You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass.
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 379.

How irksome is this music to my heart!
When such strings jar, what hope of harmony?
Henry VI. Pt. II. Sc. 1. L. 56.

Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain-tops that freeze,
Bow themselves, when he did sing:
To his music, plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers,
There had made a lasting spring.
Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 3.

Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by;
In sweet music is such art:
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or, hearing, die.
Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 9.

The choir,
With all the choicest music of the kingdom,
Together sung Te Deum.
Henry VIII. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 90.

One whom the music of his own vain tongue
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony.
Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 167.

Though music oft hath such a charm
To make bad good, and good provoke to harm.
Measure for Measure. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 14.

Let music sound while he doth make his choice;
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
Fading in music.
Merchant of Venice. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 43.

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness, and the night
Becomes the touches of sweet harmony.
Merchant of Venice. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 54.

There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
Merchant of Venice. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 57.

Therefore the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods;
Since nought so stockish, hard and full of rage,
But music for the time doth change his nature.
Merchant of Venice. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 79.

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.
Merchant of Venice. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 83.

Music do I hear?
Ha! ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!
Richard II. Act V. Sc. 5. L. 41.

Wilt thou have music? hark! Apollo plays
And twenty caged nightingales do sing.
Taming of the Shrew. Induction. Sc. 2. L. 37.

Preposterous ass, that never read so far
To know the cause why music was ordain’d!
Was it not to refresh the mind of man,
After his studies or his usual pain?
Taming of the Shrew. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 9.

This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air.
Tempest. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 391.

Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows!
Troilus and Cressida. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 109.

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour.
Twelfth Night. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 1.

Song like a rose should be;
Each rhyme a petal sweet;
For fragrance, melody,
That when her lips repeat
The words, her heart may know
What secret makes them so.
Love, only Love.
Frank Dempster Sherman—Song, in Lyrics for a Lute.

Musick! soft charm of heav’n and earth,
Whence didst thou borrow thy auspicious birth?
Or art thou of eternal date,
Sire to thyself, thyself as old as Fate.
Edmund Smith—Ode in Praise of Musick.

See to their desks Apollo’s sons repair,
Swift rides the rosin o’er the horse’s hair!
In unison their various tones to tune,
Murmurs the hautboy, growls the hoarse bassoon;
In soft vibration sighs the whispering lute,
Tang goes the harpsichord, too-too the flute,
Brays the loud trumpet, squeaks the fiddle sharp,
Winds the French-horn, and twangs the tingling harp;
Till, like great Jove, the leader, figuring in,
Attunes to order the chaotic din.
Horace and James Smith—Rejected Addresses. The Theatre. L. 20.

So dischord ofte in musick makes the sweeter lay.
Spenser—Faerie Queene. Bk. III. Canto II. St. 15.

Music revives the recollections it would appease.
Madame de Staël—Corinne. Bk. IX. Ch. II.

The gauger walked with willing foot,
And aye the gauger played the flute;
And what should Master Gauger play
But Over the Hills and Far Away.
Robt. Louis Stevenson—Underwoods. A Song of the Road.

How her fingers went when they moved by note
Through measures fine, as she marched them o’er
The yielding plank of the ivory floor.
Benj. F. Taylor—Songs of Yesterday. How the Brook Went to Mill. St. 3.

It is the little rift within the lute
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
Tennyson—Idylls of the King. Merlin and Vivien. L. 393.

Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Tennyson—The Lotos Eaters. Choric Song. St. 1.

Music that gentlier on the spirit lies
Than tir’d eyelids upon tir’d eyes.
Tennyson—The Lotos Eaters. Choric Song. St. 1.

I can’t sing. As a singist I am not a success. I am saddest when I sing. So are those who hear me. They are sadder even than I am.
Artemus Ward—Lecture.

Strange! that a harp of thousand strings
Should keep in tune so long.
Watts—Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Bk. II. 19.

And with a secret pain,
And smiles that seem akin to tears,
We hear the wild refrain.
Whittier—At Port Royal.

I’m the sweetest sound in orchestra heard
Yet in orchestra never have been.
Dr. Wilberforce—Riddle. First lines.

Her ivory hands on the ivory keys
Strayed in a fitful fantasy,
Like the silver gleam when the poplar trees
Rustle their pale leaves listlessly
Or the drifting foam of a restless sea
When the waves show their teeth in the flying breeze.
Oscar Wilde—In the Gold Room. A Harmony.

What fairy-like music steals over the sea,
Entrancing our senses with charmed melody?
Mrs. M. C. Wilson—What Fairy-like Music.

Where music dwells
Lingering, and wandering on as loth to die:
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality.
Wordsworth—Ecclesiastical Sonnets. Pt. III. 63. Inside of King’s Chapel, Cambridge.

Bright gem instinct with music, vocal spark.
Wordsworth—A Morning Exercise.

Soft is the music that would charm forever:
The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.
Wordsworth—Not Love, Not War.

Sweetest melodies
Are those that are by distance made more sweet.
Wordsworth—Personal Talk. St. 2.

The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
Wordsworth—The Solitary Reaper.