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Mary Webb

  • Sleep was her fetish, panacea and art.

  • ... she had the egoism that is more selfless than most people's altruism — the divine egoism that is genius.

  • Even when her husband died it ... was ... not that Mrs. Marston did not feel it. She did, as deeply as her nature could. But she felt it, as a well-padded boy feels a whacking, through layers of convention.

  • She had so deep a kinship with the trees, so intuitive a sympathy with leaf and flower, that it seemed as if the blood in her veins was not slow-moving human blood, but volatile sap.

  • For the world is founded and built up on death, and the reality of death is neither to be questioned nor feared. Death is a dark dream, but it is not a nightmare. It is mankind's lack of pity, mankind's fatal propensity for torture, that is the nightmare.

  • No accident of environment or circumstance need cut us off from nature. ... It does not matter how shut in we are. Opportunity for wide experience is of small acccount in this as in other things; it is depth that brings understanding and life.

  • One violet is as sweet as an acre of them.

  • Few things are more stimulating than the sight of the forceful wings of large birds cleaving the vagueness of air and making the piled clouds a mere background for their concentrated life.

  • Autumn is full of leave-taking. In September the swallows are chattering of destination and departure like a crowd of tourists, and soon they are gone.

  • Nature's music is never over; her silences are pauses, not conclusions.

  • Fragrance is the voice of inanimate things.

  • ... still and silent and inimitably grave, were two baby owls taking an airing. ... The four eyes were focused like cameras in a certain direction, and anything that came within the line of vision was necessarily taken in by them. One waited with the concentrated longing of the photographed for the little click of release. It never came, and I realized that this was to be an endless exposure. Their double stare awed me like the gaze of a thought-reader. It was perfectly useless to stare back, because it was obvious that they could go on like that interminably.

  • Who can say which is the greater sign of creative power, the sun with its planet system swinging with governed impetus to some incalculable end, or the gold sallow catkin with its flashing system of little flies?

  • Of all colors, brown is the most satisfying. It is the deep, fertile tint of the earth itself; it lies hidden beneath every field and garden; it is the garment of multitudes of earth's children, from the mouse to the eagle ...

  • Green is the fresh emblem of well-founded hopes. In blue the spirit can wander, but in green it can rest.

  • She had for so many years been trying to be like other people, that she was now like nothing in heaven or earth.

  • For the more a soul conforms to the sanity of others, the more does it become insane.

  • The love of nature is a passion for those in whom it once lodges. It can never be quenched. It cannot change. It is a furious, burning, physical greed, as well as a state of mystical exaltation. It will have its own.

  • ... since he had first held a rattle, inanimate matter had been his foe. He was a living illustration of the theory that matter cuts across the path of life. In its crossing of Jonathan's path it was never Jonathan that came off as victor.

  • But when you dwell in a house you mislike, you will look out of a window a deal more than those that are content with their dwelling.

  • ... love was like that — a lot of coloured threads, and one master-thread of pure gold.

  • ... it is the way of lovers to think that none can bless or succour their love but their own selves. And there is a touch of truth in it, maybe more than a touch.

  • It made me gladsome to be getting some education, it being like a big window opening.

  • So when folk tell me of this great man and that great man, I think to myself. Who was stinted of joy for his glory? How many old folk and children did his coach wheels go over? What bridal lacked his song, and what mourner his tears, that he found time to climb so high?

  • The more anybody wants a thing, the more they do think others want it.

  • For if you stop to be kind, you must swerve often from your path.

  • ... it's the folk that depend on us for this and for the other that we most do miss.

  • The past is only the present become invisible and mute; and because it is invisible and mute, its memoried glances and its murmurs are infinitely precious. We are tomorrow's past.

  • Saddle your dreams afore you ride 'em.

  • [On bees:] Few creatures so tiny have managed to raise such unreasoning panic ...

    • Mary Webb,
    • in The Spectator ()
  • ... facts, tenderly treated, are as good a food for the soul as for the mind ...

    • Mary Webb,
    • in The Spectator ()
  • If you know much about your work — why you work, how you work, your aims — you are probably not a poet.

    • Mary Webb,
    • in The Bookman ()
  • There is surely no more unselfish person than the anthologist. For while all we others are striving to ensure our own immortality with eagerness, beguilements, buffooneries, loud voices, 'the sound of battle and garments rolled in blood,' the anthologist is quietly ensuring the immortality of somebody else.

    • Mary Webb,
    • in The Bookman ()
  • There is usually no dreamer so unworldly as the anthologist. He wanders in a vast garden, lost in wonder, unable to decide often between flowers of equal loveliness. ... The true anthologist has the greatest difficulty in finishing his book. There is always just one more, a new, delicious discovery.

    • Mary Webb,
    • in The Bookman ()
  • The well of Providence is deep. It is the buckets we bring to it that are small.

    • Mary Webb,
    • in Ladies' Home Journal ()
  • As a pale moth passes / In the April grasses, / So I come and go, / Softlier than snow.

    • Mary Webb,
    • "The Thought," in Martin Armstrong, ed., The Essential Mary Webb ()
  • Love unspoken is the most tremendous force in the world. One is amazed at the way in which people waste their time making speeches, agitating, praying, even. They might save their breath. The great lovers of the world, in silence, rule the world.

    • Mary Webb,
    • 1926, in Gladys Mary Coles, ed., Mary Webb: Collected Prose and Poems ()
  • ... the drowsy hum of bees / Comes o'er the clover like a lullaby, / Telling of rest ...

    • Mary Webb,
    • "Spring" (1898), in Gladys Mary Coles, ed., Mary Webb: Collected Prose and Poems ()

Mary Webb, English writer, poet

(1881 - 1927)

Full name: Mary Gladys Meredith Webb.