LONGFELLOW, Henry Wadsworth Quotes
(1807-1882), American poet
Nothing is or can be accidental with God.
It has done me good to be somewhat parched by the heat and drenched by the rain of life.
What seem to us but dim funereal tapers, may be heaven's distant lamps.
I venerate old age; and I love not the man who can look without emotion upon the sunset of life, when the dusk of evening begins to gather over the watery eye, and the shadows of twilight grow broader and deeper upon the understanding.
Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled by great ambitions.
Magnificent autumn! He comes not like a pilgrim, clad in russet weeds; not like a hermit, clad in gray; but like a warrior with the stain of blood on his brazen mail.—His crimson scarf is rent; his scarlet banner dripping with gore; his step like a flail on the threshing floor.
Ballads are the gipsy children of song, born under green hedgerows, in the leafy lanes and bypaths of literature, in the genial summer time.
A life that is worth writing at all, is worth writing minutely and truthfully.
The every day cares and duties, which men call drudgery, are the weights and counterpoises of the clock of time, giving its pendulum a true vibration, and its hands a regular motion; and when they cease to hang upon the wheels, the pendulum no longer swings, the hands no longer move, and the clock stands still.
A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child.
A coquette is a young lady of more beauty than sense, more accomplishments than learning, more charms of person than graces of mind, more admirers than friends, more fools than wise men for attendants.
The adoration of his heart had been to her only as the perfume of a wild flower, which she had carelessly crushed with her foot in passing.
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.
The strength of criticism lies only in the weakness of the thing criticised.
Critics are sentinels in the grand army of letters, stationed at the corners of newspapers and reviews, to challenge every new author.
Some critics are like chimney-sweepers; they put out the fire below, and frighten the swallows from their nests above; they scrape a long time in the chimney, cover themselves with soot, and bring nothing away but a bag of cinders, and then sing out from the top of the house, as if they had built it.
The air is full of farewells to the dying, and mournings for the dead.
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.
A word that has been said may be unsaid—it is but air.—But when a deed is done, it cannot be undone, nor can our thoughts reach out to all the mischiefs that may follow.
No one is so utterly desolate, but some heart, though unknown, responds unto his own.
Do thy duty; that is best; leave unto the Lord the rest.
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.
Some must follow, and some command, though all are made of clay.
Sometimes we may learn more from a man's errors, than from his virtues.
The little I have seen of the world teaches me to look upon the errors of others in sorrow, not in anger. When I take the history of one poor heart that has sinned and suffered, and think of the struggles and temptations it has passed through, the brief pulsations of joy, the feverish inquietude of hope and fear, the pressure of want, the desertion of friends, I would fain leave the erring soul of my fellowman with Him from whose hands it came.
The evening came.—The setting sun stretched his celestial rods of light across the level landscape, and like the miracle in Egypt, smote the rivers, the brooks, and the ponds, and they became as blood.
It is an indiscreet and troublesome ambition that cares so much about fame; about what the world says of us; to be always looking in the faces of others for approval; to be always anxious about the effect of what we do or say; to be always shouting to hear the echoes of our own voices.
Time has a doomsday book, on whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names.—But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears.—Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.
We often excuse our own want of philanthropy by giving the name of fanaticism to the more ardent zeal of others.
The greatest firmness is the greatest mercy.
Stars of earth, these golden flowers; emblems of our own great resurrection; emblems of the bright and better land.
Trust no future however pleasant; let the dead past bury its dead. Act—act in the living present, heart within, and God o'erhead.
Look not mournfully to 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.
Genius is infinite painstaking.
All the means of action—the shapeless masses—the materials—lie everywhere about us.—What we need is the celestial fire to change the flint into the transparent crystal, bright and clear.— That fire is genius.
Men of genius are often dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stems.
Give what you have. To some one it may be better than you dare to think.
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 over the sleeping dust.
Well has it been said that there is no grief like the grief which does not speak.
The rays of happiness, like those of light, are colorless when unbroken.
If the mind, that rules the body, ever so far forgets itself as to trample on its slave, the slave is never generous enough to forgive the injury, but will rise and smite the oppressor.
Joy, temperance, and repose, slam the door on the doctor's nose.
When the heart goes before, like a lamp, and illumines the pathway, many things are made clear that else lie hidden in darkness.
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.
The history of the past is a mere puppet show.—A little man comes out and blows a little trumpet, and goes in again.—You look for something new, and lo! another little man comes out and blows another little trumpet, and goes in again.—And it is all over.
The holiest of all holidays are those kept by ourselves in silence and apart, the secret anniversaries of the heart, when the full tide of feeling overflows.
Truly, this world can get on without us, if we would but think so.
A vague recollection fills my mind, an image dazzling, but undefined, like the memory of a gorgeous dream.—It crowds my brain confusedly, but will not stay.—It changes like the tremulous sunshine on the wave, till imagination itself is dazzled, bewildered, overpowered.
We waste our best years in distilling the sweetest flowers of life into potions, which, after all, do not immortalize, but only intoxicate.
When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men.
He who has not been at a tavern knows not what a paradise it is.—O holy tavern! 0 miraculous tavern!— holy, because no carking cares are there, nor weariness, nor pain; and miraculous, because of the spits, which, of themselves turn round and round.
Touch the goblet no more; it will make thy heart sore, to its very core.
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing; others judge us by what we have done.
Man is unjust, but God is just; and finally justice triumphs.
The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.
Fleeting as were the dreams of old, remembered like a tale that's told, we pass away.
Most persons would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.
Love gives itself; it is not bought.
There is nothing holier in this life of ours than the first consciousness of love—the first fluttering of its silken wings—the first rising sound and breath of that wind which is so soon to sweep through the soul, to purify or to destroy.
It is folly to pretend that one ever wholly recovers from a disappointed passion. Such wounds always leave a scar. There are faces I can never look upon without emotion; there are names I can never hear spoken without almost starting.
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.
The joy of meeting, not unmixed with pain.
Great men stand like solitary towers in the city of God, and secret passages, running deep beneath external nature, give their thoughts intercourse with higher intelligence, which strengthens and consoles them, and of which the laborers on the surface do not even dream.
Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime.
Mercy more becomes a magistrate than the vindictive wrath which men call justice.
Midnight the outpost of advancing day; the frontier town and citadel of night; the water-shed of time, from which the streams of yesterday and tomorrow take their way, one to the land of promise and of light—one to the land of darkness and of dreams.
Morality without religion is only a kind of dead-reckoning—an endeavor to find our place on a cloudy sea by measuring the distance we have run, but without any observation of the heavenly bodies.
Night is in her wane; day's early flush glows like a hectic on her fading cheek, wasting its beauty.
The morning, pouring everywhere, its golden glory on the air.
Even He that died for us upon the cross, in the last hour, in the unutterable agony of death, was mindful of his mother, as if to teach us that this holy love should be our last worldly thought, —the last point of earth from which the soul should take its flight for heaven.
Yea, music is the prophet's art; among the gifts that God hath sent, one of the most magnificent.
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.
The day is done, and darkness falls from the wings of night.
How absolute, and omnipotent is the silence of the night! And yet the stillness seems almost audible.—From all the measureless depths of air around us, comes a half sound, a half whisper, as if we could hear the crumbling and falling away of earth and all created things in the great miracle of nature, decay and reproduction ever beginning, never ending—the gradual lapse and running of the sand in the great hourglass of time.
Every man has a paradise around him till he sins and the angel of an accusing conscience drives him from his Eden. And even then there are holy hours, when this angel sleeps, and man comes back, and with the innocent eyes of a child looks into his lost paradise again—into the broad gates and rural solitudes of nature.
The blossoms of passion, gay and luxuriant flowers, are bright and full of fragrance, but they beguile us and lead us astray, and their odor is deadly.
Nor deem the irrevocable past as wholly wasted, wholly vain, if rising on its wrecks, at last to something nobler we attain.
The divine insanity of noble minds, that never falters nor abates, but labors, endures, and waits, till all that it foresees it finds, or what it cannot find, creates.
All that is best in the great poets of all countries, is not what is national in them, but what is universal.
This country is not priest-ridden, but press-ridden.
Many men do not allow their principles to take root, but pull them up every now and then, as children do the flowers they have planted, to see if they are growing.
It is curious to note the old sea-margins of human thought. Each subsiding century reveals some new mystery; we build where monsters used to hide themselves.
By going a few minutes sooner or later, by stopping to speak with a friend on the corner, by meeting this man or that, or by turning down this street instead of the other, we may let slip some impending evil, by which the whole current of our lives would have been changed. There is no possible solution in the dark enigma but the one word, "Providence."
The rapture of pursuing is the prize the vanquished gain.
How beautiful is the rain! After the dust and heat, in the broad and fiery street, and in the narrow lane; how beautiful is the rain!
To be left alone, and face to face with my own crime, had been just retribution.
To will what God doth will, is the only science that gives us rest.
Sit in reverie, and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.
Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.
Sunday is like a stile between the fields of toil, where we can kneel and pray, or sit and meditate.
A feeling of sadness that is not akin to pain, resembles sorrow only as the mist resembles rain.
Ah, this beautiful world! 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 suddenly changes and is dark and sorrowful, and the clouds shut out the day. In the lives of the saddest of us there are bright days when we feel as if we could take the great world in our arms. Then come the gloomy hours, when 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.
Thou hast betrayed thy secret as a bird betrays her nest, by striving to conceal it.
Whenever nature leaves a hole in a person's mind, she generally plasters it over with a thick coat of self-conceit.
The silence of the place was like a sleep, so full of rest it seemed.
In character, in manners, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.
Man-like it is, to fall into sin; fiendlike it is, to dwell therein; Christ-like it is, for sin to grieve; God-like it is, all sin to leave.
You know I say just what I think, and nothing more nor less.—I cannot say one thing and mean another.
The intellect of man sits visibly enthroned upon his forehead and in his eye, and the heart of man is written upon his countenance. But the soul reveals itself in the voice only, as God revealed Himself to the prophet of old in the still small voice, and in the voice from the burning bush.
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.
Silent, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of angels.
As the turning of logs will make a dull fire burn, so change of studies will a dull brain.
With many readers, brilliancy of style passes for affluence of thought; they mistake buttercups in the grass for immeasurable gold mines under ground.
Submission is the footprint of faith in the pathway of sorrow.
Know how sublime a thing it is to suffer and be strong.
The same object seen from the three different points of view—the past, the present, and the future—often exhibits three different faces to us; like those sign-boards over shop doors, which represent the face of a lion as we approach, of a man when we are in front, and of an ass when we have passed.
What is time?—The shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock, the running of the sand, day and night, summer and winter, months, years, centuries—these are but the arbitrary and outward signs—the measure of time, not time itself. Time is the life of the soul.
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.
Trouble is the next best thing to enjoyment; there is no fate in the world so horrible as to have no share in either its joys or sorrows.
The day is done; and slowly from the scene the stooping sun upgathers his spent shafts, and puts them back into his golden quiver!
Softly the evening came. The sun from the western horizon, like a magician, extended his golden wand o'er the landscape.
Oh, how beautiful is the summer night, which is not night, but a sunless, yet unclouded, day, descending upon earth with dews, and shadows, and refreshing coolness! How beautiful the long mild twilight, which, like a silver clasp, unites today with yesterday! How beautiful the silent hour, when morning and evening thus sit together, hand in hand, beneath the starless sky of midnight!
What heart has not acknowledged the influence of this hour, the sweet and soothing hour of twilight— the hour of love—the hour of adoration—the hour of rest—when we think of those we love, only to regret that we have not love them more dearly; when we remember our enemies only to forgive them.
How wonderful is the human voice!—It is indeed the organ of the soul. The intellect of man sits enthroned, visibly, on his forehead and in his eye, and the heart of man is written on his countenance, but the soul reveals itself in the voice only.
Thy voice is celestial melody.
To will what God wills is the only science that gives us rest.
The gentle wind, a sweet and passionate wooer, kisses the blushing leaf.
Oh, what a glory doth this world put on, for him who with a fervent heart goes forth under the bright and glorious sky, and looks on duties well performed, and days well spent.