Famous Quotes by William Morris

A good way to rid oneself of a sense of discomfort is to do something. That uneasy, dissatisfied feeling is actual force vibrating out of order; it may be turned to practical account by giving proper expression to its creative character.

A man at work, making something which he feels will exist because he is working at it and wills it, is exercising the energies of his mind and soul as well as of his body. Memory and imagination help him as he works. Not only his own thoughts, but the thoughts of the men of past ages guide his hands; and, as a part of the human race, he creates. If we work thus we shall be men, and our days will be happy and eventful.

Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization.

Artists cannot help themselves; they are driven to create by their nature, but for that nature to truly thrive, we need to preserve the precious habitat in which that beauty can flourish.

Art is man's expression of his joy in labour.

Art made by the people for the people, as a joy to the maker and the user.

Beauty, which is what is meant by art, using the word in its widest sense, is, I contend, no mere accident to human life, which people can take or leave as they choose, but a positive necessity of life.

Boundless risk must pay for boundless gain.

Count on, rest not, for hope is dead.

Do not be afraid of large patterns, if properly designed they are more restful to the eye than small ones: on the whole, a pattern where the structure is large and the details much broken up is the most useful... very small rooms, as well as very large ones, look better ornamented with large patterns.

Everything made by man’s hands has a form, which must be either beautiful or ugly; beautiful if it is in accord with Nature, and helps her; ugly if it is discordant with nature, and thwarts her; it cannot be indifferent.

Free men must live simple lives and have simple pleasures.

Give me love and work - these two only.

Happy as we are, times may alter; we may be bitten with some impulse towards change, and many things may seem too wonderful for us to resist, too exciting not to catch at, if we do not know that they are but phases of what has been before and withal ruinous, deceitful, and sordid.

How can you care about the image of a landscape, when you show by your deeds that you don’t care for the landscape itself?

How often it consoles me to think of barbarism once more flooding the world, and real feelings and passions, however rudimentary, taking the place of our wretched hypocrisies.

History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created.

I am going, if I can, to be an architect, and I am too old already, and there is no time to lose.

I am going your way, so let us go hand in hand. You help me and I'll help you. We shall not be here very long ... so let us help one another while we may.

I can't enter into politico-social subjects with any interest, for on the whole, I see that things are in a muddle, and I have no power or vocation to set them right in ever so little a degree.

I cannot suppose there is anybody here who would think it either a good life, or an amusing one, to sit with one's hands before one doing nothing - to live like a gentleman, as fools call it.

I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.

I don't remember being taught to read, and by the time I was seven years old, I had read a very great many books, good, bad, and indifferent.

I have said as much as that the aim of art was to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy hope of producing something worth its exercise.

If a chap can't compose an epic poem while he's weaving tapestry, he had better shut up, he'll never do any good at all.

If others can see it as I have seen it, then it may be called a vision rather than a dream.

If i were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most to be longed for, I should answer, A beautiful House.

I have said as much as that the aim of art was to destroy the curse of labor by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy hope of producing something worth its exercise.

I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.

If you cannot learn to love real art, at least learn to hate sham art and reject it.

If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

I love art, and I love history, but it is living art and living history that I love... It is in the interest of living art and living history that I oppose so-called restoration. What history can there be in a building bedaubed with ornament, which cannot at the best be anything but a hopeless and lifeless imitation of the hope and vigour of the earlier world?

It is right and necessary that all should have work to do which shall be worth doing and be of itself pleasant to do, and which should be done under such conditions as would make it neither over-wearisome nor over-anxious.

It is the childlike part of us that produces works of the imagination. When we were children time passed so slow with us that we seemed to have time for everything.

It took me years to understand that words are often as important as experience, because words make experience last.

I want a real revolution, a real change in society: society, a great organic mass of well-regulated forces used for the bringing-about a happy life for all.

Let some word reach my ears and touch my heart.

Let tomorrow cross its own rivers.

Love gives every gift whereby we long to live: Love takes every gift, and nothing back doth give.

Love makes clear the eyes that else would never see: Love makes blind the eyes to all but me and thee.

My work is the embodiment of dreams in one form or another.

[Nature] ever bearing witness against man that he has deliberately chosen ugliness instead of beauty.

No man is good enough to be another's master.

No pattern should be without some sort of meaning.

Nothing should be made by man's labour which is not worth making, or which must be made by labour degrading to the makers.

Nothing useless can be truly beautiful.

Not on one strand are all life's jewels strung.

Now let us go, love, down the winding stair, With fingers intertwined.

Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement.

So long as the system of competition in the production and exchange of the means of life goes on, the degradation of the arts will go on; and if that system is to last for ever, then art is doomed, and will surely die; that is to say, civilization will die.

Speak not, move not, but listen, the sky is full of gold. No ripple on the river, no stir in field or fold, All gleams but naught doth glisten, but the far-off unseen sea. Forget days past, heart broken, put all memory by! No grief on the green hillside, no pity in the sky, Joy that may not be spoken fills mead and flower and tree.

The books I would like to print are the books I love to read and keep.

The greatest foe to art is luxury, art cannot live in its atmosphere.

The heart desires, the hand refrains. The Godhead fires, the soul attains.

The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make.

There is no excuse for doing anything which is not strikingly beautiful.

The reward of labour is life. Is that not enough?

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.

Till again shall the change come, and words your lips say not. Your hearts make all plain in the best wise they would, and the world ye thought waning is glorious and good.

To do nothing but grumble and not to act - that is throwing away one's life.

We are living in a epoch where there is combat between commercialism, or the system of reckless waste, and communism, or the system of neighbourly common sense.

We are only the trustees for those who come after us.

We shall not be happy unless we live like good animals, unless we enjoy the exercise of the ordinary functions of life: eating, sleeping, loving, walking, running, swimming, riding, sailing.

What I mean by Socialism is a condition of society in which there should be neither rich nor poor, neither master nor master's man, neither idle nor overworked, neither brain­slack brain workers, nor heart­sick hand workers, in a word, in which all men would be living in equality of condition, and would manage their affairs unwastefully, and with the full consciousness that harm to one would mean harm to all - the realisation at last of the meaning of the word commonwealth.

What is an artist but a workman who is determined that, whatever else happens, his work shall be excellent?

When a rich man is hurt his wail goeth heavens high and none may say he heareth not.

Wherever nature works, there will be beauty.

With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on.

Quotes and Opinions about William Morris by Art Historians, Critics and Fellow Artists

I cannot help thinking that it does not matter what goes into the Clarion this week, because William Morris is dead. And what socialist will care for any other news this week, beyond that one sad fact? William Morris was our best man; and he is dead. It is true that much of his work still lives, and will live. But we have lost him, and, great as was his work, he himself was greater. Many a man of genius is dwarfed by his creations. We could all name men whose personalities seem unworthy of their own words and actions; men who resemble mean jars filled with honey, or foul lamps emitting brilliant beams. Morris was of a nobler kind. He was better than his best. Though his words fell like sword strokes, one always felt that the warrior was stronger than the sword. For Morris was not only a genius, he was a man. Strike at him where you would, he rang true. … His face was as honest as a lion's and you accepted his word as you accept a date from the almanac. This is a censorious world, and as a rule, let a man be chaste as ice, pure as snow, he shall not escape calumny. Yet I have never heard a single word of detraction or dislike spoken of William Morris. Nor is there a Socialist to-day in England but will feel that he has lost a friend. He was our best man. We cannot spare him; we cannot replace him. In all England there lives no braver, kinder, honester, cleverer, heartier man than William Morris. He is dead, and we cannot help feeling for a while that nothing else matters.

Robert Blatchford, October 1896

When I first knew Morris nothing would content him but being a monk, and getting to Rome, and then he must be an architect, and apprenticed himself to Street, and worked for two years, but when I came to London and began to paint he threw it all up, and must paint too, and then he must give it up and make poems, and then he must give it up and make window hangings and pretty things, and when he had achieved that, he must be a poet again, and then after two or three years of Earthly Paradise time, he must learn dyeing, and lived in a vat, and learned weaving, and knew all about looms, and then made more books, and learned tapestry, and then wanted to smash everything up and begin the world anew, and now it is printing he cares for, and to make wonderful rich-looking books — and all things he does splendidly — and if he lives the printing will have an end — but not I hope, before Chaucer and the Morte d'Arthur are done; then he'll do I don't know what, but every minute will be alive.

Edward Burne-Jones