James Russell Lowell

(22 February 1819 – 12 August 1891 / Cambridge, Massachusetts)

James Russell Lowell
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James Russell Lowell was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets who rivaled the popularity of British poets. These poets usually used conventional forms and meters in their poetry, making them suitable for families entertaining at their fireside.

Lowell graduated from Harvard College in 1838, despite his reputation as a troublemaker, and went on to earn a law degree from Harvard Law School. He published his first collection of poetry in 1841 and married Maria White in 1844. He and his wife had several children, though only one survived past childhood. ... more »

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Quotations

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  • ''I have always been of the mind that in a democracy manners are the only effective weapons against the bowie-knife.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-91), U.S. poet, editor. Letter, March 4, 1873.
  • ''What men prize most is a privilege, even if it be that of chief mourner at a funeral.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), U.S. poet, editor. Address, October 6, 1884, Birmingham, England. "Democracy," Democracy and Other Addresses (1886)....
  • ''It is mediocrity which makes laws and sets mantraps and spring-guns in the realm of free song, saying thus far shalt thou go and no further.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-91), U.S. poet, editor. "Elizabethan Dramatists, Omitting Shakespear: John Webster," Lowell's Early Prose Writings (1902).
  • ''Freedom is the only law which genius knows.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), U.S. poet, editor. "Elizabethan Dramatists, Omitting Shakespeare: John Webster" (1843), in Lowell's Early Prose Writ...
  • ''Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), U.S. poet, editor. "Nationality in Literature," North American Review (July 1849). Reviewing Longfellow's Kavana...
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Best Poem of James Russell Lowell

The Search

I went to seek for Christ,
And Nature seemed so fair
That first the woods and fields my youth enticed,
And I was sure to find him there:
The temple I forsook,
And to the solitude
Allegiance paid; but Winter came and shook
The crown and purple from my wood;
His snows, like desert sands, with scornful drift,
Besieged the columned aisle and palace-gate;
My Thebes, cut deep with many a solemn rift,
But epitaphed her own sepulchred state:
Then I remembered whom I went to seek,
And blessed blunt Winter for his counsel bleak.
Back to the world I ...

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