Careful Words

line (n.)

line (v.)

line (adv.)

line (adj.)

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,

Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

Omar Khayyam (1048-1131): Rubáiyát. Stanza lxxi.

Some to church repair,

Not for the doctrine, but the music there.

These equal syllables alone require,

Though oft the ear the open vowels tire;

While expletives their feeble aid to join,

And ten low words oft creep in one dull line.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744): Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 142.

  I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.

Ulysses S Grant (1822-1885): Despatch to Washington. Before Spottsylvania Court House, May 11, 1864.

Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught to join

The varying verse, the full resounding line,

The long majestic march, and energy divine.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744): Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace. Epistle i. Book ii. Line 267.

Wit will shine

Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.

John Dryden (1631-1701): To the Memory of Mr. Oldham. Line 15.

As a wit, if not first, in the very first line.

Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774): Retaliation. Line 96.

The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!

Feels at each thread, and lives along the line.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744): Essay on Man. Epistle i. Line 217.

  What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe, save that it runs back to a successful soldier?

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832): Woodstock. Chap. xxxvii.

Marlowe's mighty line.

Ben Jonson (1573-1637): To the Memory of Shakespeare.

Profan'd the God-given strength, and marr'd the lofty line.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832): Marmion. Introduction to Canto i.

For his chaste Muse employ'd her heaven-taught lyre

None but the noblest passions to inspire,

Not one immoral, one corrupted thought,

One line which, dying, he could wish to blot.

Lord Lyttleton (1709-1773): Prologue to Thomson's Coriolanus.

What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?

William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Macbeth. Act iv. Sc. 1.

Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows,

And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;

But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,

The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar.

When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,

The line too labours, and the words move slow:

Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,

Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744): Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 166.

  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.

Old Testament: Isaiah xxviii. 10.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,

From the field of his fame fresh and gory;

We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,

But we left him alone with his glory.

Charles Wolfe (1791-1823): The Burial of Sir John Moore.