50 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Quotes Capturing Life’s Essence

Learn about one of the most eloquent wordsmiths of the 19th century with these Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quotes!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet who remains one of American literature’s most prominent and beloved figures.

He was born in Portland, Maine, in 1807, and his life and career spanned a significant portion of the 19th century, which was a transformative time for America.

Some of his most famous poems, like Paul Revere’s Ride, The Village Blacksmith, and The Slave’s Dream, offered commentary on America’s history, identity, and Longfellow’s hopes for America’s future.

His poetry captures the essence of human emotions, the beauty of nature, and the wisdom of life’s experiences.

Longfellow’s words have resonated across generations, inspiring readers to reflect, connect, and find solace in the power of language.

Here are 50 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quotes that highlight his profound insights and enduring impact.

Tell us your favorite quote in the comment section!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Quotes About Nature

Like many poets, Longfellow was inspired by nature, and these quotes showcase his unique understanding of the relationship between man and his surroundings.

1. “The ocean is a mighty harmonist.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

2. “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

3. “The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

4. “And the hooded clouds, like friars, tell their beads in drops of rain.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

5. “The gentle wind, a sweet and passionate wooer, kisses the blushing leaf.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

6. “The Laws of Nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

7. “Art is the child of Nature; yes, her darling child, in whom we trace the features of the mother’s face.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

8. “Nature is beautiful, and we are surrounded by it every day. Let’s take a moment to appreciate its wonders.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

9. “The twilight is sad and cloudy, the wind blows wild and free, and like the wings of sea birds, flash the white caps of the sea.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

10. “The spring came suddenly, bursting upon the world as a child bursts into a room, with a laugh and a shout and hands full of flowers.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Quotes About Love

An enduring theme in poetry, love is well-represented in Longfellow’s work.

11. “Love gives itself; it is not bought.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

12. “Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

13. “Talk not of wasted affection – affection never was wasted.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

14. “When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

15. “Hearts are not to be had as a gift, but hearts are to be earned.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

16. “The dawn is not distant, nor is the night starless; love is eternal.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

17. “It is a beautiful trait in the lover’s character, that they think no evil of the object loved.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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

19. “There is nothing holier in this life of ours than the first consciousness of love, the first fluttering of its silken wings.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

20. “Love is the root of creation; God’s essence; worlds without number; Lie in his bosom like children; he made them for this purpose only. Only to love and to be loved again.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Quotes About Ambition and Hard Work

What does Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry convey about determination? As a poet and an educator, these quotes reflect his attitude about perseverance and hard work.

21. “Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

22. “In this world a man must either be anvil or hammer.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

23. “If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

24. “The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do, well.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

25. “It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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

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

28. “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

29. “The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do without thought of fame.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Quotes About Life’s Journey and Challenges

These quotes by Longfellow remind us to seize the day, appreciate life’s trials, and recognize our fellow man’s humanity.

31. “There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

32. “The darkest day, if you live till tomorrow, will have passed away.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

33. “The arrow of time flies only in one direction. Embrace the present, for it is fleeting.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

34. “To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

35. “Trust no future, however pleasant! Let the dead past bury its dead! Act—act in the living Present!” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

36. “Heaven is not reached by a single bound, but we build the ladder by which we rise from the earth to the skies.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

37. “The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

38. “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

39. “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.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

40. “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

Profound Quotes by Longfellow

Some of Longfellow’s most profound quotes and lines have become part of the American lexicon. Here are some of his most famous words.

41. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

42. “Behind the clouds is the sun still shining.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

43. “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

44. “The heart, like the mind, has a memory. And in it are kept the most precious keepsakes.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

45. “The great tragedy of the average man is that he goes to his grave with his music still in him.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

46. “A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

47. “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not, and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

48. “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

49. “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.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

50. “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

Why is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Important?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s body of work proves that the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword.

His words continue to be studied and celebrated, and his work reminds us that our lives are significant, our actions impactful, and our dreams attainable.

Do you have a favorite poem by Longfellow?

Or perhaps you have a favorite saying from this list?

Tell us your favorite Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quote in the comment section!

We would love to hear from you!

You might also like to read these Thomas Fuller quotes.

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Jo Moorhouse is a communications professional supporting the arts and entertainment industry. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and broadcast production from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and believes everyone has a story to tell if you ask the right questions. Raised to be “Minnesota nice,” she has a passion for helping people build meaningful relationships both professionally and personally. She lives with her family in the Chicago metro and loves to spend her free time baking, exploring the city’s museums and restaurants, and enjoying the outdoors.
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