Home  »  Familiar Quotations  »  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807-1882 John Bartlett

John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807-1882 John Bartlett

    Look, then, into thine heart, and write! 1 
          Voices of the Night. Prelude.
    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. 2 
          A Psalm of Life.
    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.
          A Psalm of Life.
    Art is long, and time is fleeting, 3 
  And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still like muffled drums are beating
  Funeral marches to the grave. 4 
          A Psalm of Life.
    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!
          A Psalm of Life.
    Lives of great men all remind us
  We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
  Footprints on the sands of time.
          A Psalm of Life.
    Let us, then, be up and doing,
  With a heart for any fate; 5 
Still achieving, still pursuing,
  Learn to labour and to wait.
          A Psalm of Life.
    There is a reaper whose name is Death, 6 
  And with his sickle keen
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
  And the flowers that grow between.
          The Reaper and the Flowers.
    The star of the unconquered will.
          The Light of Stars.
    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.
    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.
    The hooded clouds, like friars,
  Tell their beads in drops of rain.
          Midnight Mass.
    No one is so accursed by fate,
No one so utterly desolate,
  But some heart, though unknown,
  Responds unto his own.
    For Time will teach thee soon the truth,
  There are no birds in last year’s nest! 7 
          It is not always May.
    Into each life some rain must fall,
  Some days must be dark and dreary.
          The rainy Day.
    The prayer of Ajax was for light. 8 
          The Goblet of Life.
    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.
    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.
    Books are sepulchres of thought.
          Wind over the Chimney.
    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!
    She floats upon the river of his thoughts. 9 
          The Spanish Student. Act ii. Sc. 3.
    A banner with the strange device.
    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.
    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.
          The Day is done.
    A feeling of sadness and longing
  That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
  As the mist resembles the rain.
          The Day is done.
    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.
          The Day is done.
        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!
          The Building of the Ship.
    Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,—
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith trumphant o’er our fears,
Are all with thee,—are all with thee!
          The Building of the Ship.
    The leaves of memory seemed to make
  A mournful rustling in the dark.
          The Fire of Drift-wood.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Safe from temptation, safe from sin’s pollution,
  She lives whom we call dead.
    In the elder days of Art,
  Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
  For the gods see everywhere.
          The Builders.
    This is the forest primeval.
          Evangeline. Part i.
                        Alike were they free from
Fear that reigns with the tyrant, and envy the vice of republics.
          Evangeline. Part i. 1.
    Neither locks had they to their doors nor bars to their windows;
But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of the owners;
There the richest was poor and the poorest lived in abundance.
          Evangeline. Part i. 1.
    When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
          Evangeline. Part i. 1.
    Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
          Evangeline. Part i. 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.
          Evangeline. Part ii. 1.
    Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike.
          Evangeline. Part ii. 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. 5.
    Saint Augustine! well hast thou said,
  That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
  Beneath our feet each deed of shame. 10 
          The Ladder of Saint Augustine.
    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 Saint Augustine.
    The surest pledge of a deathless name
Is the silent homage of thoughts unspoken.
          The Herons of Elmwood.
    He has singed the beard of the king of Spain. 11 
          The Dutch Picture.
    The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
          Morituri salutamus.
    With useless endeavour
Forever, forever,
Is Sisyphus rolling
His stone up the mountain!
          The Masque of Pandora. Chorus of the Eumenides.
    All things come round to him who will but wait. 12 
          Tales of a Wayside Inn. Part i. The Student’s Tale.
    A town that boasts inhabitants like me
Can have no lack of good society.
          Tales of a Wayside Inn. The Poet’s Tale. Part i. The Birds of Killingworth.
    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, 13 
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence.
          Tales of a Wayside Inn. Part iii. The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth. iv.
        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 Golden Legend. iv.
    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. 14 
          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.
    I heard the trailing garments of the Night 15 
Sweep through her marble halls.
          Hymn to Night.
    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.
    All your strength is in your union
All your danger is in discord;
Therefore be at peace henceforward,
And as brothers live together.
          The Song of Hiawatha. Part i.
    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.
          The Song of Hiawatha. Part 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.
          The Song of Hiawatha. Part. x.
    Oh the long and dreary Winter!
Oh the cold and cruel Winter!
          The Song of Hiawatha. Part xx.
    God had sifted three kingdoms to find the wheat for this planting. 16 
          The Courtship of Miles Standish. Part iv.
    Into a world unknown,—the corner-stone of a nation. 17 
          The Courtship of Miles Standish. Part v.
                    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.
          The Courtship of Miles Standish. Part vi.
    He is a little chimney and heated hot in a moment.
          The Courtship of Miles Standish. Part vi.
        A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
          My lost Youth.
    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.
      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.
    All are architects of Fate,
  Working in these walls of Time.
          The Builders.
    God sent his singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth.
          The Singers.
    The long mysterious exodus of death.
          The Jewish Cemetery at Newport.
    Ye are better than all the ballads
  That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems
  And all the rest are dead.
    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. 18 
            There is no greater sorrow
Than to be mindful of the happy time
In misery. 19 
          Inferno. Canto v. Line 121.
Note 1.
See Philip Sidney, page 34. [back]
Note 2.
Things are not always what they seem.—Phædrus: Fables, book iv. Fable 2. [back]
Note 3.
See Chaucer, page 6.
  Art is long, life is short.—Goethe: Wilhelm Meister, vii. 9. Hippocrates is supposed to have originated this saying which is better known in Latin: Ars longa, vita brevis est. [back]
Note 4.
Our lives are but our marches to the grave.—Beaumont and Fletcher: The Humorous Lieutenant, act. iii. sc. 5. [back]
Note 5.
See Byron, page 553. [back]
Note 6.
There is a Reaper whose name is death.—Arnim and Brentano. Erntelied. (From “Des Knaben Wunderhorn,” ed. 1857, vol. i. p. 59.) [back]
Note 7.
In last year’s nests
This year no sparrow rests.
Cervantes: Don Quixote, part ii. chap. lxxiv.

En los nidos de aniaño
No hay pajaros hogaño.
See François Villon:

Mais où sont les neiges d’ antan?
Where are the snows of yester year?
Rossetti’s translation. [back]
Note 8.
The light of Heaven restore;
Give me to see, and Ajax asks no more.
Pope: The Iliad, book xvii. line 730. [back]
Note 9.
See Byron, page 553. [back]
Note 10.
I held it truth, with him who sings
  To one clear harp in divers tones,
  That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.
Tennyson: In Memoriam, i. [back]
Note 11.
Sir Francis Drake entered the harbour of Cadiz, April 19, 1587, and destroyed shipping to the amount of ten thousand tons lading. To use his own expressive phrase, he had “singed the Spanish king’s beard.”—Knight: Pictorial History of England, vol. iii. p. 215. [back]
Note 12.
See Emerson, page 617. [back]
Note 13.
And soon, too soon, we part with pain,
To sail o’er silent seas again.
Thomas Moore: Meeting of the Ships.

Two lives that once pass are as ships that divide.
Edward Bulwer Lytton. A Lament.

We twain have met like the ships upon the sea.
Alexander Smith. A Life Drama.

As two floating planks meet and part on the sea,
O friend! so I met and then parted from thee.
W. R. Alger: The brief chance Encounter.
  As vessels starting from ports thousands of miles apart pass close to each other in the naked breadths of the ocean, nay, sometimes even touch in the dark.
Holmes: Professor at the Breakfast Table. [back]
Note 14.
Wer nie sein Brod mit Thränen ass,
  Wer nicht die kummervollen Nächte
Aul seinem Bette weinend sass,
  Der kennt euch nicht, ihr himmlischen Mächte.
Goethe: Wilhelm Meister, book ii. chap. xiii. [back]
Note 15.
See Mrs. Sarah Whitman, page 613. [back]
Note 16.
See Stoughton, page 266. [back]
Note 17.
Plymouth Rock. [back]
Note 18.
Quoted from Cotton’s “To-morrow.” See Genesis xxx. 3. [back]
Note 19.
Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nella miseria.
  See Chaucer, page 5.

  In omni adversitate fortunæ, infelicissimum genus est infortunii fuisse felicem (In every adversity of fortune, to have been happy is the most unhappy kind of misfortune).—Boethius: De Consolatione Philosophiæ, liber ii.

This is truth the poet sings,
That a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.
Tennyson: Locksley Hall, line 75. [back]