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


Fons lacrymarum.
Fountains of tears.
Æschylus—Agamemnon. 861. Jeremiah. IX. 1. Sophocles—Antigones. 803.

We weep when we are born,
Not when we die!
T. B. Aldrich—Metempsychosis. Phrase found in Les Paroles Remarquables, les Bon Mots et les Maximes Orientaux. Ed. by Galland. (1694).

Dear Lord, though I be changed to senseless clay,
And serve the Potter as he turn his wheel,
I thank Thee for the gracious gift of tears!
T. B. Aldrich—Two Moods.

Filius istarum lacrymarum.
A child of those tears.
St. Augustine—Confessions. Bk. III. 12. “It cannot be, that a child of those tears (of mine) shall perish.” Words of his mother when St. Augustine was influenced by the Manichean Heresy.

And friends, dear friends,—when it shall be
That this low breath is gone from me,
And round my bier ye come to weep,
Let One, most loving of you all,
Say, “Not a tear must o’er her fall;
He giveth His beloved sleep.”
E. B. Browning—The Sleep. St. 9.

Thank God for grace,
Ye who weep only! If, as some have done,
Ye grope tear-blinded in a desert place
And touch but tombs,—look up! Those tears will run
Soon in long rivers down the lifted face,
And leave the vision clear for stars and sun.
E. B. Browning—Tears.

So bright the tear in Beauty’s eye,
Love half regrets to kiss it dry.
Byron—Bride of Abydos. Canto I. St. 8.

Oh! too convincing—dangerously dear—
In woman’s eye the unanswerable tear!
That weapon of her weakness she can wield,
To save, subdue—at once her spear and shield.
Byron—Corsair. Canto II. St. 15.

What gem hath dropp’d, and sparkles o’er his chain?
The tear most sacred, shed for other’s pain,
That starts at once—bright pure—from Pity’s mine,
Already polish’d by the hand divine!
Byron—Corsair. Canto II. St. 15.

She was a good deal shock’d; not shock’d at tears,
For women shed and use them at their liking;
But there is something when man’s eye appears
Wet, still more disagreeable and striking.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto V. St. 118.

There is a tear for all who die,
A mourner o’er the humblest grave.
Byron—Elegiac Stanzas. On the Death of Sir Peter Parker, Bart.

A stoic of the woods,—a man without a tear.
Campbell—Gertrude of Wyoming. Pt. I. St. 23.

For Beauty’s tears are lovelier than her smile.
Campbell—Pleasures of Hope. Pt. I. L. 180.

We look through gloom and storm-drift
Beyond the years:
The soul would have no rainbow
Had the eyes no tears.
John Vance Cheney—Tears.

Nihil enim lacryma citius arescit.
Nothing dries sooner than a tear.
Cicero—Ad Herrenium. II. 31. 50. De Inventione. I. 56. (Quoting Apollonius.)

Words that weep and tears that speak.
Abraham Cowley—The Prophet. St. 2.

And the tear that is wiped with a little address,
May be follow’d perhaps by a smile.
Cowper—The Rose.

No radiant pearl, which crested Fortune wears,
No gem that twinkling hangs from Beauty’s ears,
Not the bright stars which Night’s blue arch adorn,
Nor rising suns that gild the vernal morn,
Shine with such lustre as the tear that flows
Down Virtue’s manly cheek for others’ woes.
Erasmus Darwin—The Botanic Garden. Pt. II. Canto III. L. 459.

What precious drops are those,
Which silently each other’s track pursue,
Bright as young diamonds in their infant dew?
Dryden—The Conquest of Grenada. Pt. II. Act III. Sc. 1.

Weep no more, nor sigh, nor groan,
Sorrow calls no time that’s gone:
Violets plucked the sweetest rain
Makes not fresh nor grow again.
John Fletcher—Queen of Corinth. Act IV. Sc. 1. Not in original folio. Said to be spurious.

The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast.
Gray—Eton College. St. 5.

Ope the sacred source of sympathetic tears.
Gray—Progress of Poesy. III. 1. L. 12.

And weep the more, because I weep in vain.
Gray—Sonnet. On the Death of Mr. West.

Never a tear bedims the eye
That time and patience will not dry.
Bret Harte—Lost Galleon.

Accept these grateful tears! for thee they flow,
For thee, that ever felt another’s woe!
Homer—Iliad. Bk. XIX. L. 319. Pope’s trans.

My tears must stop, for every drop
Hinders needle and thread.
Hood—Song of the Shirt.

Oh! would I were dead now,
Or up in my bed now,
To cover my head now
And have a good cry!
Hood—A Table of Errata.

Si vis me flere, dolendum est
Primum ipsi tibi.
If you wish me to weep, you yourself must first feel grief.
Horace—Ars Poetica. V. 102.

Hinc illæ lacrymæ.
Hence these tears.
Horace—Epistles. I. 19. 41. Terence—Andria. I. 1. 99.

If the man who turnips cries,
Cry not when his father dies,
’Tis a proof that he had rather
Have a turnip than his father.
Samuel Johnson. Ridiculing Lope de Vega’s lines, “Se acquien los leones vence,” etc.

On parent knees, a naked new-born child
Weeping thou sat’st while all around thee smiled;
So live, that sinking in thy last long sleep
Calm thou may’st smile, while all around thee weep.
Sir William Jones. Taken from Enchanted Fruit. Six Hymns to Hindu Deities. See sketch prefixed to his Poetical Works. (1847). Also in his Life. P. 110.

E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.
Keats—To One Who Has Been Long in City Pent.

All kin’ o’ smily round the lips
An’ teary roun’ the lashes.
Lowell—Biglow Papers. Second Series. The Courtin’. St. 21.

Tell me, ye wingèd winds
That round my pathway roar,
Know ye not some spot
Where mortals weep no more?
Charles Mackay—Tell Me Ye Winged Winds. The Inquiry.

Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Milton—Lycidas. L. 14.

Thrice he assay’d, and, thrice in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as angels weep, burst forth.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. I. L. 619.

The glorious Angel, who was keeping
The gates of Light, beheld her weeping;
And, as he nearer drew and listen’d
To her sad song, a tear-drop glisten’d
Within his eyelids, like the spray
From Eden’s fountain, where it lies
On the blue flow’r, which—Bramins say—
Blooms nowhere but in Paradise.
Moore—Lalla Rookh. Paradise and the Peri.

O dear, dear Jeanie Morrison,
The thochts o’ bygane years
Still fling their shadows ower my path,
And blind my een wi’ tears.
Wm. Motherwell—Jeanie Morrison.

Peter deny’d
His Lord and cry’d.
New England Primer. (1777).

If you go over desert and mountain,
Far into the country of Sorrow,
To-day and to-night and to-morrow,
And maybe for months and for years;
You shall come with a heart that is bursting
For trouble and toiling and thirsting,
You shall certainly come to the fountain
At length,—to the Fountain of Tears.
A. W. E. O’Shaughnessy—The Fountain of Tears.

Interdum lacrymæ pondera vocis habent.
Tears are sometimes as weighty as words.
Ovid—Epistolæ Ex Ponto. III. 1. 158.

Flere licet certe: flendo diffundimus iram:
Perque sinum lacrimæ, fluminis instar enim.
Truly it is allowed us to weep: by weeping we disperse our wrath; and tears go through the heart, even like a stream.
Ovid—Heroides. 8. 61.

Est quædam flere voluptas;
Expletur lacrymis egeriturque dolor.
It is some relief to weep; grief is satisfied and carried off by tears.
Ovid—Tristium. IV. 3. 37.

Behold who ever wept, and in his tears
Was happier far than others in their smiles.
Petrarch—The Triumph of Eternity! L. 95. (Charlemont.)

Sweet tears! the awful language, eloquent
Of infinite affection; far too big
For words.
Pollok—Course of Time. Bk. V. L. 633.

Sweet drop of pure and pearly light;
In thee the rays of Virtue shine;
More calmly clear, more mildly bright,
Than any gem that gilds the mine.
Samuel Rogers—On a Tear.

But woe awaits a country, when
She sees the tears of bearded men.
Scott—Marmion. Canto V. St. 16.

The tear, down childhood’s cheek that flows,
Is like the dewdrop on the rose;
When next the summer breeze comes by
And waves the bush, the flower is dry.
Scott—Rokeby. Canto IV. St. 11.

’Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in.
All’s Well That Ends Well. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 55.

The tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.
Antony and Cleopatra. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 176.

The big round tears
Coursed one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 38.

I had not so much of man in me,
And all my mother came into my eyes,
And gave me up to tears.
Henry V. Act IV. Sc. 6. L. 30.

With sad unhelpful tears; and with dimm’d eyes
Look after him, and cannot do him good.
Henry VI. Pt. II. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 218.

I cannot weep; for all my body’s moisture
Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning heart.
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 79.

See, see what showers arise,
Blown with the windy tempest of my heart.
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act II. Sc. 5. L. 85.

What I should say
My tears gainsay; for every word I speak,
Ye see, I drink the water of mine eyes.
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act V. Sc. 4. L. 73.

I am about to weep; but, thinking that
We are a queen, or long have dream’d so, certain
The daughter of a king, my drops of tears
I’ll turn to sparks of fire.
Henry VIII. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 70.

I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries; but thou hast forc’d me,
Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 428.

He has strangled
His language in his tears.
Henry VIII. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 157.

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
Julius Cæsar. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 173.

No, I’ll not weep:
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I’ll weep.
King Lear. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 286.

There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moisten’d.
King Lear. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 31.

When we are born we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.
King Lear. Act IV. Sc. 6. L. 186. Marston, in his observations on King Lear, quotes this from Dryden’s trans. of Lucretius. See Drake—Memorials of Shakespeare. 336.

That instant shut
My woeful self up in a mourning house,
Raining the tears of lamentation.
Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 817.

My plenteous joys,
Wanton in fullness, seek to hide themselves
In drops of sorrow.
Macbeth. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 33.

And he, a marble to her tears, is washed with them, but relents not.
Measure for Measure. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 238.

Did he break into tears?
In great measure.
A kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces truer than those that are so washed.
Much Ado About Nothing. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 24.

If that the earth could teem with woman’s tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
Othello. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 256.

One, whose subdu’d eyes,
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinal gum.
Othello. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 348.

Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
Sham’d their aspect with store of childish drops.
Richard III. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 154.

The liquid drops of tears that you have shed
Shall come again, transform’d to orient pearl,
Advantaging their loan with interest
Of ten times double gain of happiness.
Richard III. Act IV. Sc. 4. L. 321.

If the boy have not a woman’s gift
To rain a shower of commanded tears,
An onion will do well for such a shift.
Taming of the Shrew. Induction. Sc. 1. L. 124.

Then fresh tears
Stood on her cheeks, as doth the honey-dew
Upon a gather’d lily almost wither’d.
Titus Andronicus. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 111.

Eye-offending brine.
Twelfth Night. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 30.

Why, man, if the river were dry, I am able to fill it with my tears: if the wind were down, I could drive the boat with my sighs.
Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 57.

I so lively acted with my tears
That my poor mistress, moved therewithal,
Wept bitterly.
Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act IV. Sc. 4. L. 174.

The silver key of the fountain of tears.
Shelley—Two Fragments to Music.

Heaven is not gone, but we are blind with tears,
Groping our way along the downward slope of Years!
R. H. Stoddard—Hymn to the Beautiful. L. 33.

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depths of some divine despair.
Tennyson—The Princess. Canto IV. L. 21.

Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears,
And make me tremble lest a saying learnt,
In days far-off, on that dark earth, be true?
The gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.
Tennyson—Tithonus. St. 5.

Two aged men, that had been foes for life,
Met by a grave, and wept—and in those tears
They washed away the memory of their strife;
Then wept again the loss of all those years.
Frederick Tennyson—The Golden City. Pt. I.

The big round tears run down his dappled face;
He groans in anguish.
Thomson—Seasons. Autumn. L. 454.

The tears of the young who go their way, last a day;
But the grief is long of the old who stay.
Trowbridge—A Home Idyll. 15.

Sunt lacrymæ rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
Tears are due to human misery, and human sufferings touch the mind.
Vergil—Æneid. I. 462.

Tears are the silent language of grief.
Voltaire—A Philosophical Dictionary. Tears.

When summoned hence to thine eternal sleep,
Oh, may’st thou smile while all around thee weep.
Charles Wesley—On an Infant.

Yet tears to human suffering are due;
And mortal hopes defeated and o’erthrown
Are mourned by man, and not by man alone.

Lorenzo! hast thou ever weigh’d a sigh?
Or studied the philosophy of tears?—
Hast thou descended deep into the breast,
And seen their source? If not, descend with me,
And trace these briny riv’lets to their springs.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night V. L. 516.