Edward Young

Edward Young (1683 - April 5, 1765) was an English poet, best remembered for Night Thoughts.


  • In records that defy the tooth of time.
    • The Statesman's Creed
  • Great let me call him, for he conquered me.
    • The Revenge, Act I, sc. i (1721)
  • Life is the desert, life the solitude;
    Death joins us to the great majority.
    • The Revenge, Act IV, sc. i
  • Souls made of fire, and children of the sun,
    With whom revenge is virtue.
    • The Revenge, Act V, sc. ii
  • The blood will follow where the knife is driven,
    The flesh will quiver where the pincers tear.
    • The Revenge, Act V, sc. ii
  • In youth, what disappointments of our own making: in age, what disappointments from the nature of things.
    • A Vindication of Providence; or, A True Estimate of Human Life (1728)
  • The man that makes a character makes foes.
    • To Mr. Pope, epistle I, l. 28 (1730)
  • Their feet through faithless leather met the dirt,
    And oftener chang'd their principles than shirt.
    • To Mr. Pope, epistle I, l. 277
  • There is something in Poetry beyond Prose-reason; there are Mysteries in it not to be explained, but admired.
    • Conjectures on Original Composition (1759) p. 28.

Love of Fame (1725-1728)

  • When the Law shows her teeth, but dares not bite.
    • Satire I, l. 17
  • The love of praise, howe'er concealed by art,
    Reigns more or less, and glows in ev'ry heart.
    • Satire I, l. 51
  • Some for renown, on scraps of learning dote,
    And think they grow immortal as they quote.
    • Satire I, l. 89
  • Titles are marks of honest men, and wise;
    The fool or knave that wears a title lies.
    • Satire I, l. 145
  • They that on glorious ancestors enlarge,
    Produce their debt instead of their discharge.
    • Satire I, l. 147
  • None think the great unhappy but the great.
    • Satire I, l. 238
  • The booby father craves a booby son,
    And by Heaven’s blessing thinks himself undone.
    • Satire II, l. 165
  • Where Nature’s end of language is declin’d,
    And men talk only to conceal the mind.
    • Satire II, l. 207
  • Be wise with speed;
    A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
    • Satire II, l. 282
  • With skill she vibrates her eternal tongue,
    Forever most divinely in the wrong.
    • Satire VI, l. 105
  • For her own breakfast she'll project a scheme,
    Nor take her tea without a strategem.
    • Satire VI, l. 187
  • Think naught a trifle, though it small appear;
    Small sands the mountain, moments make the year,
    And trifles life.
    • Satire VI, l. 208
  • One to destroy, is murder by the law;
    And gibbets keep the lifted hand in awe;
    To murder thousands takes a specious name,
    War's glorious art, and gives immortal fame.
    • Satire VII, l. 55

Night Thoughts (1742-1745)

  • Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep!
    • Night I, l. 1
  • Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne,
    In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
    Her leaden scepter o'er a slumbering world.
    • Night I, l. 18
  • Creation sleeps! 'Tis as the general pulse
    Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause;
    An awful pause! prophetic of her end.
    • Night I, l. 23
  • The bell strikes one. We take no note of time
    But from its loss.
    • Night I, l. 55
  • Be wise today; 'tis madness to defer.
    • Night I, l. 390
  • Procrastination is the thief of time.
    • Night I, l. 393
  • At thirty, man suspects himself a fool;
    Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
    At fifty chides his infamous delay,
    Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
    In all the magnanimity of thought
    Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
    • Night I, l. 417
  • All men think all men mortal but themselves.
    • Night I, l. 424
  • He mourns the dead who lives as they desire.
    • Night II, l. 24
  • Thy purpose firm is equal to the deed:
    Who does the best his circumstance allows
    Does well, acts nobly; angels could no more.
    • Night II, l. 90
  • Ah, how unjust to Nature and himself
    Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
    • Night II, l. 112
  • Life's cares are comforts; such by Heav'n design'd;
    He that hath none must make them, or be wretched.
    • Night II, l. 160.
  • Time flies, death urges, knells call, Heaven invites,
    Hell threatens.
    • Night II, l. 292
  • ’Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours,
    And ask them what report they bore to heaven.
    • Night II, l. 376
  • Thoughts shut up want air,
    And spoil, like bales unopen’d to the sun.
    • Night II, l. 466
  • A friend is worth all hazards we can run.
    • Night II, l. 571
  • Friendship's the wine of life; but friendship new
    (Not such was his) is neither strong nor pure.
    • Night II, l. 582
  • How blessings brighten as they take their flight!
    • Night II, l. 602
  • The chamber where the good man meets his fate
    Is privileg’d beyond the common walk
    Of virtuous life, quite in the verge of heaven.
    • Night II, l. 633
  • A death-bed ’s a detector of the heart.
    • Night II, l. 641
  • Virtue alone has majesty in death.
    • Night II, l. 650
  • Woes cluster. Rare are solitary woes;
    They love a train, they tread each other’s heel.
    • Night III, l. 63
  • Beautiful as sweet!
    And young as beautiful! and soft as young!
    And gay as soft! and innocent as gay.
    • Night III, l. 81
  • Lovely in death the beauteous ruin lay;
    And if in death still lovely, lovelier there;
    Far lovelier! pity swells the tide of love.
    • Night III', l. 104
  • Heaven’s Sovereign saves all beings but himself
    That hideous sight,—a naked human heart.
    • Night III, l. 226
  • Man makes a death which Nature never made.
    • Night IV, l. 15
  • And feels a thousand deaths in fearing one.
    • Night IV, l. 17
  • Wishing, of all employments, is the worst.
    • Night IV, l. 71
  • Man wants little, nor that little long.
    • Night IV, l. 118
  • A God all mercy is a God unjust.
    • Night IV, l. 233
  • ’Tis impious in a good man to be sad
    • Night IV, l. 676
  • Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die.
    • Night IV, l. 843
  • By night an atheist half believes a God.
    • Night V, l. 177
  • Less base the fear of death than fear of life.
    • Night V, l. 441
  • A soul without reflection, like a pile
    Without inhabitant, to ruin runs.
    • Night V, l. 596
  • We see time’s furrows on another’s brow,
    And death intrench’d, preparing his assault;
    How few themselves in that just mirror see!
    • Night V, l. 627
  • Like our shadows,
    Our wishes lengthen as our sun declines.
    • Night V, l. 661
  • While man is growing, life is in decrease;
    And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
    Our birth is nothing but our death begun.
    • Night V, l. 717
  • The man of wisdom is the man of years.
    • Night V, l. 775
  • Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow.
    • Night V, l. 1011
  • Revere thyself, and yet thyself despise.
    • Night VI, l. 128
  • Pygmies are pygmies still, though percht on Alps;
    And pyramids are pyramids in vales.
    Each man makes his own stature, builds himself.
    Virtue alone outbuilds the Pyramids;
    Her monuments shall last when Egypt’s fall.
    • Night VI, l. 309
  • Ambition! powerful source of good and ill!
    • Night VI, l. 399
  • Much learning shows how little mortals know;
    Much wealth, how little worldlings can enjoy.
    • Night VI, l. 519
  • And all may do what has by man been done.
    • Night VI, l. 606
  • The man that blushes is not quite a brute.
    • Night VII, l. 496
  • What ardently we wish we soon believe.
    • Night VII, l. 1311
  • Too low they build who build beneath the stars.
    • Night VIII, l. 215
  • Truth never was indebted to a lie.
    • Night VIII, l. 587
  • The house of laughter makes a house of woe.
    • Night VIII, l. 757
  • A man of pleasure is a man of pains.
    • Night VIII, l. 793
  • Final Ruin fiercely drives
    Her plowshare o'er creation.
    • Night IX, l. 167
  • An undevout astronomer is mad.
    • Night IX, l. 771
  • The course of Nature is the art of God.
    • Night IX, l. 1267


  • Tomorrow is the day when idlers work, and fools reform.


  • By all means use some time to be alone.
    • A slight misquotation of George Herbert "The Church Porch", line 145: "By all means use sometimes to be alone", in The Temple (1633).
  • The future... seems to me no unified dream but a mince pie, long in the baking, never quite done.
    • Widely attributed to Edward Young, but in fact written by E. B. White in Harper's Magazine (December 1940), and reprinted in his One Man's Meat (1942).
  • Tomorrow is a satire on today,
    And shows its weakness.
    • This is a quotation from "The Old Man's Relapse", a poem addressed to Edward Young, but written by Lord Melcombe.

External links

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Edward Young
Last modified on 9 July 2008, at 23:09