'Music has charms to soothe the savage breast' - meaning and origin.
Two variations of this phrase are music calms the savage beast and music tames the savage beast. This idiom is actually a misquote of a line from the play The Mourning Bride from the year The British poet William Congreve wrote this originally as music hath charms to sooth a savage breast. Nowadays, it is more common to find the usage with beast instead of the original breast.
Many quotations attributed to famous people are at best paraphrases — though often superior to the original. Others might be subtly altered in the retelling, sometimes with little impact on their effect, at other times irresponsibly changing the meaning. We need not wait to see what others do. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you.
Literal meaning. That literal meaning is open to misinterpretation as this phrase is frequently written as 'music has charms to soothe the savage beast'. The phrase 'music has charms to sooth a savage breast' sounds Shakespearian but in fact comes to us from The Mourning Bride , a poem by William Congreve, However, that isn't the end of the story as the commonly circulated 'music has charms to soothe a savage beast' can't be said to be entirely incorrect.