Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Quotes

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 – 1882

Born: 27 February 1807, Portland, Maine
Died: 24 March 1882, Cambridge, Massachusetts

For many years Longfellow was America’s favorite poet. He seemed to easily create rhyme and rhythm in poetry that makes his work both readable and memorable, one of the few poets whose work I can read more than a few lines from at one time. He was one of the first poets to address American themes, and at a time when the new nation was ready to move on from the initial struggle to carve a civilization out of the wilderness, America was ready for some culture.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quotes:

A thought often makes us hotter than a fire.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Morituri Salutamus (1874)
Ah! nothing is too late
Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Ah, how wonderful is the advent of spring!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hyperion Bk. IV, Ch. viii (1839)
All things come round to him who will but wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Art is power.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hyperion (1839)
Art is the child of nature in whom we trace the features of the mothers face.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As turning the logs will make a dull fire burn, so change of studies a dull brain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hyperion Bk. III, Ch. iv (1839)
Critics are sentinels in the grand army of letters, stationed at the corners of newspapers and reviews, to challenge every new author.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kavanagh (1849)
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)

Every great poem is in itself limited by necessity, — but in its suggestions unlimited and infinite.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
Fame comes only when deserved, and then is as inevitable as destiny, for it is destiny.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Friends my soul with joy remembers
  How like quivering flames they start
When I fan the living embers
  On the hearthstone of my heart.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)
God sent his singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The Singers” (1849)
Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
He spake well who said that graves are the footprints of angels.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
He that respects himself is safe from others;
He wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Michael Angelo: A Fragment” (1883)
Hold the fleet angel fast until he bless thee.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)
I am more afraid of deserving criticism than of receiving it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)
I dislike an eye that twinkles like a star. Those only are beautiful which, like the planets, have a steady, lambent light, are luminous, but not sparkling.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hyperion (1839)
I do not believe anyone can be perfectly well, who has a brain and a heart.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I hear the wind among the trees playing the celestial symphonies.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I heard the bells, on Christmas Day,
Their old, familiar carols play,
  And wild and sweet
  The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

If I am not worth the wooing, I am surely not worth the winning.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm any hostility.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it;
Every arrow that flies feels the attraction of earth.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Elegiac Verse” (1881)
In character, in manners, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In this world a man must be either anvil or hammer.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The Rainy Day” (1842)
It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It is difficult to know at what moment love begins; it is less difficult to know that it has begun.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It takes less time to do things right than to explain why you did it wrong.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Joy, temperance, and repose slam the door on the doctor’s nose.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The Light of the Stars” in Voices of the Night (1839)
Let us then, be up and doing.
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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.

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

“A Psalm of Life” (1838)

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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hyperion Bk. IV, Ch. viii (1839)
Look, then, into thine heart, and write!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Voices of the Night (1839)
Man-like it is to fall into sin; fiendlike it is to dwell therein.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Many readers judge the power of a book by the shock it gives their feelings — as some savage tribes determine the power of muskets by their recoil; that being considered best which fairly prostrates the purchaser.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kavanagh (1849)
Men of genius are often dull and inert in society, as a blazing meteor when it descends to earth, is only a stone.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
Music is the universal language of mankind.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Outre-Mer”
Music is the universal language of mankind — poetry their universal pastime and delight.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Outre-Mer”
Nature is a revelation of God; Art a revelation of man.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Never mind trifles. In this world a man must either be anvil or hammer.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Noble souls, through dust and heat,
Rise from disaster and defeat
The stronger.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The Sifting of Peter” in Ultima Thule (1880)
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Oh, well it has been said, that there is no grief like the grief which does not speak.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hyperion (1839)
Others will underestimate us, for although we judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, others judge us only by what we have already done.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Round about what is, lies a whole mysterious world of might be, — a psychological romance of possibilities and things that do not happen.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tales of a Wayside Inn (1874)
Silently one by one,
in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars,
the forget-me-nots of the angels.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sleep. Oh! how I loathe those little slices of death.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sometimes we may learn more from a man’s errors, than from his virtues.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Talk not of wasted affection; affection never was wasted.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The grave itself is but a covered bridge,
Leading from light to light, through a brief darkness!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“A Covered Bridge at Lucerne” in The Golden Legend (1872)
The greatest firmness is the greatest mercy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The Ladder of Saint Augustine” in Birds of Passage (1845)
The holiest of holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Holidays” in The Mask of Pandora and Other Writings (1875)
The human voice is the organ of the soul.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Laws of Nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them. Cause and consequence are inseparable and inevitable.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)

The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The morning pouring everywhere, its golden glory on the air.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The rays of happiness, like those of light, are colorless when unbroken.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The setting of a great hope is like the setting of the sun. The brightness of our life is gone. Shadows of evening fall around us, and the world seems but a dim reflection — itself a broader shadow. We look forward into the coming lonely night. The soul withdraws into itself. Then stars arise, and the night is holy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hyperion (1839)
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do without thought of fame. If it comes at all it will come because it is deserved, not because it is sought after.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The world loves a spice of wickedness.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret, Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There is no grief like the grief which does not speak.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Oh, 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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hyperion (1839)
To be seventy years old is like climbing the Alps. You reach a snow-crowned summit, and see behind you the deep valley stretching miles and miles away, and before you other summits higher and whiter, which you may have strength to climb, or may not. Then you sit down and meditate and wonder which it will be.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

letter (1877)
To charm, to strengthen, and to teach: these are the three great chords of might.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
To say the least, a town life makes one more tolerant and liberal in one’s judgment of others.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today is the blocks with which we build.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Trust no future, however pleasant!
  Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act, act in the living Present!
  Heart within and God overhead.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Unasked, Unsought, Love gives itself but is not bought.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
We are all architects of faith, ever living in these walls of time.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)
We often excuse our own want of philanthropy by giving the name of fanaticism to the more ardent zeal of others.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Table-Talk” in Drift-Wood (1857)
We see but dimly through the mists and vapors;
Amid these earthly damps
What seem to us but sad, funeral tapers
May be heaven’s distant lamps.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Who dares to say that he alone has found the truth?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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