"I Strove With None; For None Was Worth My Strife"
Context: Landor's assertion that he "strove with none" is an amiable fiction, for he was one of the most contentious of men. "Of self-restraint," wrote Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), "he has not a grain, and of suspicion many grains." But in his long and active life as an unswerving aristocratic republican, Landor is said to have exhibited an essential generosity and nobility that made his image of himself true of his inner being. Swinburne (1837-1909) spoke of his "passionate compassion, his bitter and burning pity for all wrongs endured in all the world." Landor penned his famous lines on the night of his seventy-fifth birthday, after a number of deaths among those close to him had made him more than usually aware of his own mortality. He did not die, however, until his ninetieth year. The birthday lines were printed (after having earlier appeared in the Examiner) on the page facing the preface of Landor's 1853 volume, The Last Fruit off an Old Tree:
I strove with none; for none was worth my strife,Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art;I warmed both hands before the fire of life,It sinks, and I am ready to depart.