Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (27 February 180724 March 1882) was an American poet and one of the five members of the group known as the Fireside Poets.

QuotesEdit

They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast,
And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest.
Music is the universal language of mankindpoetry their universal pastime and delight.
Go forth to meet the shadowy Future, without fear, and with a manly heart.
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done…
Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.
To most men only the cessation of the miracle would be miraculous and the perpetual exercise of God's power seems less wonderful than its withdrawal would be.
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
Time has laid his hand
Upon my heart, gently, not smiting it,
But as a harper lays his open palm
Upon his harp, to deaden its vibrations.
Turn, turn, my wheel! All things must change
To something new, to something strange.
  • The warriors that fought for their country, and bled,
    Have sunk to their rest
    ; the damp earth is their bed;
    No stone tells the place where their ashes repose,
    Nor points out the spot from the graves of their foes.

    They died in their glory, surrounded by fame,
    And Victory's loud trump their death did proclaim;
    They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast,
    And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest.

    • "The Battle of Lovell's Pond," poem first published in the Portland Gazette (November 17, 1820)
  • I heard the trailing garments of the Night
    Sweep through her marble halls!
    I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
    From the celestial walls!
  • There is a Reaper, whose name is Death,
    And, with his sickle keen,
    He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
    And the flowers that grow between.
  • "Ah! this beautiful world!" said Flemming, with a smile. "Indeed, I know not what to think of it. Sometimes it is all gladness and sunshine, and Heaven itself lies not far off. And then it changes suddenly; and is dark and sorrowful, and clouds shut out the sky. In the lives of the saddest of us, there are bright days like this, when we feel as if we could take the great world in our arms and kiss it. Then come the gloomy hours, when the fire will neither burn on our hearths nor in our hearts; and all without and within is dismal, cold, and dark. Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad."
  • Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy Future, without fear, and with a manly heart.
  • Thus, seamed with many scars
    Bursting these prison bars,
    Up to its native stars
    My soul ascended!
    There from the flowing bowl
    Deep drinks the warrior's soul,
    Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!
    —Thus the tale ended.
  • No one is so accursed by fate,
    No one so utterly desolate,
    But some heart, though unknown,
    Responds unto his own.
  • I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
    The burial-ground God's-Acre!
    It is just;
    It consecrates each grave within its walls,
    And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.
  • Standing, with reluctant feet,
    Where the brook and river meet,
    Womanhood and childhood fleet!
  • O thou child of many prayers!
    Life hath quicksands; life hath snares!
  • The shades of night were falling fast,
    As through an Alpine village passed
    A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
    A banner with the strange device,
    Excelsior!
  • Stars of the summer night!
    Far in yon azure deeps,
    Hide, hide your golden light!
    She sleeps!
    My lady sleeps!
  • I stood on the bridge at midnight,
    As the clocks were striking the hour,
    And the moon rose o'er the city,
    Behind the dark church-tower.
  • Never here, forever there,
    Where all parting, pain, and care,
    And death, and time shall disappear,—
    Forever there, but never here!

    The horologe of Eternity
    Sayeth this incessantly,—
    "Forever — never!
    Never — forever!"
  • O holy trust! O endless sense of rest!
    Like the beloved John
    To lay his head upon the Saviour's breast,
    And thus to journey on!
    • "Hymn, For my Brother's Ordination", The Seaside and the Fireside (1850)
  • There is no flock, however watched and tended,
    But one dead lamb is there!
    There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended,
    But has one vacant chair!
  • There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
    This life of mortal breath
    Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
    Whose portal we call Death.
    • Resignation, st. 5
  • In the elder days of Art,
    Builders wrought with greatest care
    Each minute and unseen part;
    For the gods see everywhere.
  • Nothing useless is, or low;
    Each thing in its place is best;
    And what seems but idle show
    Strengthens and supports the rest.
  • But the great Master said, "I see
    No best in kind, but in degree;
    I gave a various gift to each,
    To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.
    • The Singers, st. 6
  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
    • Driftwood (1857)
  • The heights by great men reached and kept
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    But they, while their companions slept,
    Were toiling upward in the night.
    • The Ladder of St. Augustine, st. 10
  • The trees are white with dust, that o'er their sleep
    Wave their broad curtains in the south-wind's breath,
    While underneath such leafy tents they keep
    The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.
  • A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
  • A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
    In the great history of the land,
    A noble type of good,
    Heroic womanhood.
  • Ye are better than all the ballads
    That ever were sung or said;
    For ye are living poems,
    And all the rest are dead.
  • Between the dark and the daylight,
    When the night is beginning to lower,
    Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
    That is known as the Children's Hour.
  • I hear in the chamber above me
    The patter of little feet,
    The sound of a door that is opened,
    And voices soft and sweet.
    • The Children's Hour, St. 2
  • Time has laid his hand
    Upon my heart, gently, not smiting it,
    But as a harper lays his open palm
    Upon his harp, to deaden its vibrations.
  • The grave itself is but a covered bridge,
    Leading from light to light, through a brief darkness!
    • The Golden Legend, Pt. V, A Covered Bridge at Lucerne
  • I think I have proved, by profound researches,
    The error of all those doctrines so vicious
    Of the old Areopagite Dyonisius,
    That are making such terrible work in the churches,
    By Michael the Stammerer sent from the East,
    And done into Latin by that Scottish beast,
    Erigena Johannes, who dares to maintain,
    In the face of the truth, the error infernal,
    That the universe is and must be eternal;
    At first laying down, as a fact fundamental,
    That nothing with God can be accidental;
    Then asserting that God before the creation
    Could not have existed, because it is plain
    That, had he existed, he would have created;
    Which is begging the question that should be debated,
    And moveth me less to anger than laughter.
    All nature, he holds, is a respiration
    Of the Spirit of God, who, in breathing hereafter
    Will inhale it into his bosom again,
    So that nothing but God alone will remain.
    • The Golden Legend, Pt. VI, A travelling Scholastic affixing his Theses to the gate of the College.
  • Turn, turn, my wheel! All things must change
    To something new, to something strange
    ;
    Nothing that is can pause or stay;
    The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
    The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
    The rain to mist and cloud again,
    To-morrow be to-day.
  • Thine was the prophet's vision, thine
    The exaltation, the divine
    Insanity of noble minds,
    That never falters nor abates,
    But labors and endures and waits,
    Till all that it foresees it finds
    Or what it can not find creates.
  • Art is the child of Nature; yes,
    Her darling child, in whom we trace
    The features of the mother's face,
    Her aspect and her attitude,
    All her majestic loveliness
    Chastened and softened and subdued
    Into a more attractive grace,
    And with a human sense imbued.
    He is the greatest artist, then,
    Whether of pencil or of pen,
    Who follows Nature.
  • What land is this? Yon pretty town
    Is Delft, with all its wares displayed:
    The pride, the market-place, the crown
    And centre of the Potter's trade.
    • Kéramos, line 66; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 187
  • Three Silences there are: the first of speech,
    The second of desire, the third of thought;
    This is the lore a Spanish monk, distraught
    With dreams and visions, was the first to teach.
  • The holiest of all holidays are those
    Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
    The secret anniversaries of the heart,
    When the full river of feeling overflows.
  • In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
    A gentle face — the face of one long dead —
    Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
    The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
  • Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art is of ending;
    Many a poem is marred by a superfluous verse.
  • There was a little girl,
    Who had a little curl,
    Right in the middle of her forehead.
    When she was good,
    She was very good indeed,
    But when she was bad she was horrid.
  • O Bells of San Blas in vain
    Ye call back the Past again;
    The Past is deaf to your prayer!
    Out of the shadows of night
    The world rolls into light;
    It is daybreak everywhere.
  • Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
    Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.
  • He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.
    • From 'Michael Angelo' (published posthumously), as included in The poetical works, Houghton Mifflin (1887), p. 316
  • The star of the unconquered will.
    • The Light of Stars, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Oh, fear not in a world like this,
    And thou shalt know erelong,—
    Know how sublime a thing it is
    To suffer and be strong.
    • The Light of Stars, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Spake full well, in language quaint and olden,
    One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine,
    When he called the flowers, so blue and golden,
    Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine.
    • Flowers, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The hooded clouds, like friars,
    Tell their beads in drops of rain.
    • Midnight Mass, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • For Time will teach thee soon the truth,
    There are no birds in last year's nest!
    • It is not always May, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The prayer of Ajax was for light.
    • The Goblet of Life, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • O suffering, sad humanity!
    O ye afflicted ones, who lie
    Steeped to the lips in misery,
    Longing, yet afraid to die,
    Patient, though sorely tried!
    • The Goblet of Life, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • My soul is full of longing
    For the secret of the Sea,
    And the heart of the great ocean
    Sends a thrilling pulse through me.
    • The Secret of the Sea, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Books are sepulchres of thought.
    • Wind over the Chimney, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • This is the place. Stand still, my steed,—
    Let me review the scene,
    And summon from the shadowy past
    The forms that once have been.
    • A Gleam of Sunshine, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The leaves of memory seemed to make
    A mournful rustling in the dark.
    • The Fire of Drift-wood, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The surest pledge of a deathless name
    Is the silent homage of thoughts unspoken.
    • The Herons of Elmwood, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • He has singed the beard of the king of Spain.
    • The Dutch Picture, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • With useless endeavour
    Forever, forever,
    Is Sisyphus rolling
    His stone up the mountain!
    • The Masque of Pandora, Chorus of the Eumenides, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

A Psalm of Life (1839)Edit

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
  • Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
    "Life is but an empty dream!"
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.
    • St. 1
  • Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.
    • St. 2
  • Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
    Is our destined end or way;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
    Finds us further than to-day.
    • St. 3
  • Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
    And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.
    • St. 4
    • Cf. Andrew Marvell, Upon the Death of Lord Hastings (1649): "Art indeed is long, but life is short"
  • Trust no future, howe'er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
    Act, act in the living present!
    Heart within, and God o'erhead!
    • St. 6
  • Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time;
    • St. 7
  • Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Travelling o'er life's solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.
    • St. 8
  • Let us, then, be up and doing.
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.
    • St. 9

The Wreck of the Hesperus (1842)Edit

It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
To bear him company.
  • It was the schooner Hesperus,
    That sailed the wintry sea;
    And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
    To bear him company.
    • St. 1
  • "O father! I see a gleaming light.
    Oh say, what may it be?"
    But the father answered never a word,
    A frozen corpse was he.
    • St. 12
  • Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
    In the midnight and the snow!
    Christ save us all from a death like this,
    On the reef of Norman's Woe!
    • St. 22

The Village Blacksmith (1842)Edit

The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
  • Under a spreading chestnut-tree
    The village smithy stands;
    The smith, a mighty man is he,
    With large and sinewy hands;
    And the muscles of his brawny arms
    Are strong as iron bands.
    • St. 1
  • His brow is wet with honest sweat,
    He earns whate'er he can,
    And looks the whole world in the face,
    For he owes not any man.
    • St. 2
  • Each morning sees some task begin,
    Each evening sees it close
    Something attempted, something done,
    Has earned a night's repose.
    • St. 7

The Day is Done (1845)Edit

  • The day is done, and the darkness
    Falls from the wings of Night,
    As a feather is wafted downward
    From an eagle in his flight.
    • St. 1
  • A feeling of sadness and longing,
    That is not akin to pain,
    And resembles sorrow only
    As the mist resembles the rain.
    • St. 3
  • Come, read to me some poem,
    Some simple and heartfelt lay,
    That shall soothe this restless feeling,
    And banish the thoughts of day.
    • St. 4
  • Not from the grand old masters,
    Not from the bards sublime,
    Whose distant footsteps echo
    Through the corridors of Time.
    • St. 5
  • Read from some humbler poet,
    Whose songs gushed from his heart,
    As showers from the clouds of summer,
    Or tears from the eyelids start.
    • St. 7
  • And the night shall be filled with music,
    And the cares, that infest the day,
    Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
    And as silently steal away.
    • St. 11

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (1847)Edit

  • This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
    Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
    Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
    Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
    • Prelude
  • Alike were they free from
    Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics.
    Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows;
    But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of their owners;
    There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.
    • Part I, section 1
  • When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
    • Part I, section 1
  • Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
    Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
    • Part I, section 3
  • Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted;
    If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning
    Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment;
    That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.
    • Part II, section 1
  • Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike.
    • Part II, section 1
  • And as she looked around, she saw how Death the consoler,
    Laying his hand upon many a heart, had healed it forever.
    • Part II, section 5

Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)Edit

  • We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.
    • Chapter 1
  • Ah, how wonderful is the advent of spring! — the great annual miracle of the blossoming of Aaron's rod, repeated on myriads and myriads of branches! — the gentle progression and growth of herbs, flowers, trees, — gentle and yet irrepressible, — which no force can stay, no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way and cannot be withstood by any human power, because itself is divine power. If spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change! But now the silent succession suggests nothing but necessity. To most men only the cessation of the miracle would be miraculous and the perpetual exercise of God's power seems less wonderful than its withdrawal would be.
    • Chapter 13
  • I am more afraid of deserving criticism than of receiving it. I stand in awe of my own opinion. The secret demerits of which we alone, perhaps, are conscious, are often more difficult to bear than those which have been publicly censured in us, and thus in some degree atoned for.
    • Chapter 30
  • Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.
    • Chapter 30

The Building of the Ship (1849)Edit

  • Build me straight, O worthy Master!
    Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
    That shall laugh at all disaster,
    And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!
    • Lines 1-4
  • For his heart was in his work, and the heart
    Giveth grace unto every Art.
    • Line 7
  • And see! she stirs!
    She starts,—she moves,—she seems to feel
    The thrill of life along her keel,
    And, spurning with her foot the ground,
    With one exulting, joyous bound,
    She leaps into the ocean's arms!
    • Lines 349-354
  • Sail forth into the sea of life,
    O gentle, loving, trusting wife,
    And safe from all adversity
    Upon the bosom of that sea
    Thy comings and thy goings be!
    For gentleness and love and trust
    Prevail o'er angry wave and gust;
    And in the wreck of noble lives
    Something immortal still survives.
    • Line 368
  • And in the wreck of noble lives
    Something immortal still survives.
    • Lines 375-376
  • Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
    Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
    Humanity with all its fears,
    With all the hopes of future years,
    Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
    • Lines 378-382
  • Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
    Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
    Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
    Are all with thee,—are all with thee!
    • Lines 396-399

The Song of Hiawatha (1855)Edit

All your strength is in your union,
All your danger is in discord;
Therefore be at peace henceforward,
And as brothers live together.
As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman…
  • All your strength is in your union,
    All your danger is in discord;
    Therefore be at peace henceforward,
    And as brothers live together.
    • Pt. I, The Peace-Pipe, st. 13
  • By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
    By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
    Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
    Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
    • Pt. III, Hiawatha’s Childhood, st. 8
  • From the water-fall he named her,
    Minnehaha, Laughing Water.
    • Pt. IV, Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis, st. 33
  • Big words do not smite like war-clubs,
    Boastful breath is not a bow-string,
    Taunts are not so sharp as arrows,
    Deeds are better things than words are,
    Actions mightier than boastings.
    • Pt. IX
  • As unto the bow the cord is,
    So unto the man is woman;
    Though she bends him, she obeys him,
    Though she draws him, yet she follows,
    Useless each without the other!
    • Pt. X, Hiawatha's Wooing, st. 1
  • Oh the long and dreary Winter!
    Oh the cold and cruel Winter!
    • Pt. XX
  • By the shore of Gitche Gumee,
    By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
    At the doorway of his wigwam,
    In the pleasant Summer morning,
    Hiawatha stood and waited.
    • Pt. XXII, Hiawatha's Departure, st. 1
  • Thus departed Hiawatha,
    Hiawatha the Beloved,
    In the glory of the sunset,
    In the purple mists of evening,
    To the regions of the home-wind,
    Of the Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin,
    To the Islands of the Blessed,
    To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
    To the Land of the Hereafter!
    • Pt. XXII, Hiawatha's Departure, st. 29

Table-Talk (1857)Edit

First published in the Blue and Gold edition of Drift-Wood (1857)
We often excuse our own want of philanthropy by giving the name of fanaticism to the more ardent zeal of others.
Divine madness enters more or less into all our noblest undertakings.
We can hardly wonder that there should be so many resemblances and coincidences of expression among poets, but rather that they are not more numerous and more striking.
  • Don Quixote thought he could have made beautiful bird-cages and toothpicks if his brain had not been so full of ideas of chivalry. Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with great ambitions.
  • A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child.
  • Doubtless criticism was originally benignant, pointing out the beauties of a work, rather than its defects. The passions of men have made it malignant, as the bad heart of Procrustes turned the bed, the symbol of repose, into an instrument of torture.
  • We often excuse our own want of philanthropy by giving the name of fanaticism to the more ardent zeal of others.
  • Every great poem is in itself limited by necessity, — but in its suggestions unlimited and infinite.
  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
  • As turning the logs will make a dull fire burn, so change of studies a dull brain.
  • The Laws of Nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them. Cause and consequence are inseparable and inevitable. The elements have no forbearance. The fire burns, the water drowns, the air consumes, the earth buries. And perhaps it would be well for our race if the punishment of crimes against the Laws of Man were as inevitable as the punishment of crimes against the Laws of Nature, — were Man as unerring in his judgments as Nature.
  • Round about what is, lies a whole mysterious world of might be, — a psychological romance of possibilities and things that do not happen. By going out a few minutes sooner or later, by stopping to speak with a friend at a corner, by meeting this man or that, or by turning down this street instead of the other, we may let slip some great occasion of good, or avoid some impending evil, by which the whole current of our lives would have been changed. There is no possible solution to the dark enigma but the one word, "Providence".
  • "Let us build such a church, that those who come after us shall take us for madmen," said the old canon of Seville, when the great cathedral was planned. Perhaps through every mind passes some such thought, when it first entertains the design of a great and seemingly impossible action, the end of which it dimly foresees. This divine madness enters more or less into all our noblest undertakings.
    • Here Longfellow is translating or paraphrasing an expression attributed to a canon of Seville, also quoted as "we shall have a church so great and of such a kind that those who see it built will think we were mad".
  • I feel a kind of reverence for the first books of young authors. There is so much aspiration in them, so much audacious hope and trembling fear, so much of the heart's history, that all errors and short-comings are for a while lost sight of in the amiable self-assertion of youth.
  • Authors have a greater right than any copyright, though it is generally unacknowledged or disregarded. They have a right to the reader's civility. There are favorable hours for reading a book, as for writing it, and to these the author has a claim. Yet many people think that when they buy a book they buy with it the right to abuse the author.
  • Love makes its record in deeper colors as we grow out of childhood into manhood; as the Emperors signed their names in green ink when under age, but when of age, in purple.
  • When we reflect that all the aspects of Nature, all the emotions of the soul, and all the events of life, have been the subjects of poetry for hundreds and thousands of years, we can hardly wonder that there should be so many resemblances and coincidences of expression among poets, but rather that they are not more numerous and more striking.
  • The first pressure of sorrow crushes out from our hearts the best wine; afterwards the constant weight of it brings forth bitterness, — the taste and stain from the lees of the vat.
  • The tragic element in poetry is like Saturn in alchemy, — the Malevolent, the Destroyer of Nature ; but without it no true Aurum Potabile, or Elixir of Life, can be made.

The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858)Edit

  • If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,
    Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me?
    If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!
    • Pt. III, The Lover's Errand
  • But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent language,
    Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival,
    Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes over-running with laughter,
    Said, in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"
    • Pt. III, The Lover's Errand
  • God had sifted three kingdoms to find the wheat for this planting.
    • Part IV
  • Into a world unknown,—the corner-stone of a nation.
  • It is the fate of a woman
    Long to be patient and silent, to wait like a ghost that is speechless,
    Till some questioning voice dissolves the spell of its silence.
    • Part VI
  • He is a little chimney and heated hot in a moment.
    • Part VI

Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863-1874)Edit

  • Listen, my children, and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
    On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
    Hardly a man is now alive
    Who remembers that famous day and year.
  • One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
    And I on the opposite shore will be,
    Ready to ride and spread the alarm
    Through every Middlesex village and farm
    For the country folk to be up and to arm.
    • Pt. I, The Landlord's Tale: Paul Revere's Ride, st. 2
  • And yet, through the gloom and the light,
    The fate of a nation was riding that night.
    • Pt. I, The Landlord's Tale: Paul Revere's Ride, st. 8
  • All things come round to him who will but wait.
    • Pt. I, The Student's Tale.
  • A town that boasts inhabitants like me
    Can have no lack of good society.
    • Pt. I, The Poet's Tale: The Birds of Killingworth
  • His form was ponderous, and his step was slow;
    There never was so wise a man before;
    He seemed the incarnate "Well, I told you so!"
    • Pt. I, The Poet's Tale: The Birds of Killingworth, st. 9
  • Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
    Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
    So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
    Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
    • Pt. III, The Theologian's Tale: Elizabeth, sec. IV
  • And suddenly through the drifting brume
    The blare of the horns began to ring.
    • King Olaf's War-Horns, st. 2
  • Stronger than steel is the sword of the Spirit;
    Swifter than arrows, the light of the truth;
    Greater than anger is love that subdueth.
    • The Nun of Nidaros, st. 9

Morituri Salutamus (1875)Edit

  • Let him not boast who puts his armor on
    As he who puts it off, the battle done.
    Study yourselves; and most of all note well
    Wherein kind Nature meant you to excel.
    Not every blossom ripens into fruit.
    • St. 11
  • And now, my classmates; ye remaining few
    That number not the half of those we knew,
    Ye, against whose familiar names not yet
    The fatal asterisk of death is set,
    Ye I salute!
    • St. 13
  • The scholar and the world! The endless strife,
    The discord in the harmonies of life!
    The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
    And all the sweet serenity of books;
    The market-place, the eager love of gain,
    Whose aim is vanity, and whose end is pain!
    • St. 23
  • Ah, nothing is too late
    Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
    • St. 24
  • For age is opportunity no less
    Than youth itself, though in another dress,
    And as the evening twilight fades away
    The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
    • St. 25

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)Edit

Quotes reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Hospitality sitting with Gladness.
    • Translation from Frithiof's Saga.
  • Who ne'er his bread in sorrow ate,
    Who ne'er the mournful midnight hours
    Weeping upon his bed has sate,
    He knows you not, ye Heavenly Powers.
    • Motto, Hyperion, book i.
  • Something the heart must have to cherish,
    Must love and joy and sorrow learn;
    Something with passion clasp, or perish
    And in itself to ashes burn.
    • Hyperion, book ii.
  • Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
    Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
    Given to redeem the human mind from error,
    There were no need of arsenals and forts.
    • The Arsenal at Springfield.
  • Where'er a noble deed is wrought,
    Where'er is spoken a noble thought,
    Our hearts in glad surprise
    To higher levels rise.
    • Santa Filomena.
  • His form was ponderous and his step was slow;
    There never was so wise a man before;
    He seemed the incarnate "I told you so".
    • Santa Filomena.
  • Moons waxed and waned, the lilacs bloomed and died,
    In the broad river ebbed and flowed the tide,
    Ships went to sea, and ships came home from sea,
    And the slow years sailed by and ceased to be.
    • Lady Wentworth.
  • Build on, and make thy castles high and fair,
    Rising and reaching upward to the skies;
    Listen to voices in the upper air,
    Nor lose thy simple faith in mysteries.
    • The Castle-builder.
  • Much must he toil who serves the Immortal Gods.
    • The Masque of Pandora, ii.
    • Every guilty deed
      Holds in itself the seed
      Of retribution and undying pain.
    • The Masque of Pandora, viii.
  • He speaketh not; and yet there lies
    A conversation in his eyes.
    • The Hanging of the Crane.
  • All are architects of Fate,
    Working in these walls of Time.
    • The Builders.
  • I know a maiden fair to see,
    Take care!
    She can both false and friendly be,
    Beware! Beware!
    Trust her not,
    She is fooling thee.
    • From the German (In Hyperion).
  • She knew the life-long martyrdom,
    The weariness, the endless pain
    Of waiting for some one to come
    Who nevermore would come again.
    • Vittoria Colonna.
  • Alas! it is not till time, with reckless hand, has torn out half the leaves from the Book of Human Life to light the fires of passion with from day to day, that man begins to see that the leaves which remain are few in number.
    • Hyperion, book iv. Chap. viii.
  • Hold the fleet angel fast until he bless thee.
    • Kavanagh.
  • There is no greater sorrow
    Than to be mindful of the happy time
    In misery.
    • Inferno, canto v, line 121.

ResignationEdit

  • The air is full of farewells to the dying,
    And mournings for the dead.
  • But oftentimes celestial benedictions
    Assume this dark disguise.
  • What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers
    May be heaven's distant lamps.
  • Safe from temptation, safe from sin's pollution,
    She lives whom we call dead.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Last modified on 13 April 2014, at 07:52