Quotes about Peacocks

They call it a peacock, but it’s just a chicken with a rainbow on its tail. ~Hank Ketcham, Dennis the Menace, 1965  [Dennis —tg]

A Sweet-Peacock once said: “I presume
I take up a great deal of room;
      But of course you must see
      It is necessaree,
As my feathers are all in full bloom.”
~Carolyn Wells, “The Sweet-Peacock,” Folly for the Wise, 1904

Peacocks sweep the fairies’ rooms;
They use their folded tails for brooms;
But fairy dust is brighter far
Than any mortal colours are;
And all about their tails it clings
In strange designs of rounds and rings;
And that is why they strut about
And proudly spread their feathers out.
~Rose Fyleman, “Peacocks,” 1917

The sparrow is sorry for the peacock at the burden of its tail. ~Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds, 1916

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance… ~John Ruskin, “The Virtues of Architecture,” The Stones of Venice, 1851

Carrying a peacock on your head does not make you a nobleman. ~“Expressive Chinese Proverbs,” The Comic Almanack for 1848, by William Thackeray, Albert Smith, Gilbert à Beckett, & The Brothers Mayhew

How rich the Peacock!  what bright glories run
From plume to plume, and vary in the sun!
He proudly spreads them to the golden ray,
Gives all his colours, and adorns the day;
With conscious state the spacious round displays,
And slowly moves amid the waving blaze.
~Edward Young (1683–1765), “A Paraphrase on Part of the Book of Job”

Little Mary was visiting her grandmother in the country. Walking in the garden, she chanced to see a peacock, a bird she had never seen before. After gazing in silent admiration, she ran quickly into the house and cried out: “Oh, Granny, come and see! One of your chickens is in bloom.” ~Anonymous, c. 1915

To paint a bunch of peacock feathers
What colors will she use?
An iridescent eye of black,
With shimmering greens and blues;
And she will touch the plumy lashes
With bronze and glint of gold,
And just as much of sheen and shine
As painter’s brush may hold…
~Clara Doty Bates, “Little Barbara,” 1884

“How come [the peacock] can’t fly no better than a chicken?” Milkman asked.
“Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down…”
~Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon, 1977

Meridian sunbeams tempt him to unfold
His radiant glories, azure, green and gold:
He treads as if, some solemn music near,
His measured step were govern’d by his ear;
And seems to say—Ye meaner fowl, give place,
I am all splendour, dignity, and grace!
~William Cowper, “Truth,” 1831

The peacock hath fair feathers but foul feet. ~Bibliotheca Scholastica Instructissima; or, A Treasury of Ancient Adages and Sententious Proverbs, by Thomas Draxe, 1616  [spelling modernized —tg]

Here would the ringdoves linger, head to head;
      And here the snail a silver course would run,
Beating old Time; and here the peacock spread
      His gold-green glory, shutting out the sun…
~Austin Dobson, “The Sun-Dial,” 1865

All the colours in the rainbow
Serve to spread the peacock’s train;
Half the lustre of his feathers
Would turn twenty coxcombs vain.
~Mary Lamb & Charles Lamb, “Neatness in Apparel,” 1843

The wind had blown the fog away, and the sky was like a monstrous peacock’s-tail, starred with myriads of golden eyes. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890

A peacock’s-tail-like splendour hath this Muse,
With eyes that see not throng’d, and gorgeous hues…
~William Watson, “Two Poets,” Epigrams of Art, Life, and Nature, 1884

And winges it had with sondry colours dight,
More sondry colours then the proud pavone
Beares in his boasted fan, or Iris bright,
When her discolourd bow she spreds through heven bright.
~Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599), The Faerie Queene

They woont in the winde wagge their wriggle tayles
Perke as a peacocke…
~Edmund Spenser, “Februarie,” The Shepheards Calender, 1579

Peacock Quotations
Original post date: 2018 Apr 4
1st major revision: 2019 Nov 18