Quotations by Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth


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 (1807-1882) American poet
“A Psalm of Life” (1838)
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Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“A Psalm of Life”, 3, Voices of the Night (1839)
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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 (1807-1882) American poet
“Christmas Bells,” st. 1
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If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Elegiac Verse,” In the Harbor (1882)

See Emerson.
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The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Holidays” (1876)
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The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Morituri Salutamus,” st. 21 (1875)
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Dead he is not, but departed — for the artist never dies.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Nuremberg,” st. 13
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Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Table Talk,” Prose Works (1857)
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We spake of many a vanished scene,
Of what we once had thought and said,
Of what had been, and might have been,
And who was changed, and who was dead;
And all that fills the hearts of friends,
When first they feel, with secret pain,
Their lives thenceforth have separate ends,
And never can be one again.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“The Fire of Drift-Wood”, l. 13 in The Seaside and the Fireside (1850)
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Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“The Poets,” Atlantic Monthly (Jul 1878)
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Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“The Rainy Day,” st. 3 (1842)
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Toiling, — rejoicing — sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“The Village Blacksmith”
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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 (1807-1882) American poet
(Attributed)
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Nature is a revelation of God; Art a revelation of man.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
(Attributed)
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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

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
(Attributed)
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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 (1807-1882) American poet
(Attributed)
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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 (1807-1882) American poet
(Attributed)
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The grave is but a covered bridge leading from light to light, through a brief darkness.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
A Covered Bridge at Lucerne
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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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
A Psalm of Life
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No action, whether foul or fair,
Is ever done, but it leaves somewhere
A record, written by fingers ghostly,
As a blessing or a curse, and mostly
In the greater weakness or greater strength
Of the acts which follow it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Christus, pt. 2 “A Village Church” (1872)
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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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Drift-Wood, “Table Talk”
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More discussion of this quotation here.
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A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Drift-wood, “Table-Talk” (1857)
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Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrow which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Hyperion: A Romance, 3.4 (1839)
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The little I have seen of the world … teaches me to look upon the errors of others in sorrow, not in anger.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Hyperion, 4.3 (1839)
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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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Hyperion, Book 2, ch. 3 (1839)
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There’s a brave fellow! There’s a man of pluck!
A man who’s not afraid to say his say,
Though a whole town’s against him.

Longfellow - brave pluck - wist_info quote

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
John Endicott, Act 2, sc. 2 (1868)
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In character, in manners, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)
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We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Kavanagh: A Tale, ch. 1 (1849)
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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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Kavanagh: A Tale, ch. 30 (1849)
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For after all, the best thing one can do
When it is raining, is to let it rain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Tales of a Wayside Inn, “The Poet’s Tale; The Birds of Killingworth” (1863)
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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 (1807-1882) American poet
Tales of a Wayside Inn, Part 3 “The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth” part 4 (1874)
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Every man is in some sort a failure to himself. No one ever reaches the heights to which he aspires.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
The Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Vol. 3, ch. 22 “Table-Talk” (1886) [ed. Samuel Longfellow]
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Deeds are better things than words are,
Actions mightier than boastings.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
The Song of Hiawatha (1855)
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