James Russell Lowell

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

James Russell Lowell Quotes

  • ''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.
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  • ''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 Writings (1902).
  • ''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 Kavanagh.
  • ''The mind can weave itself warmly in the cocoon of its own thoughts, and dwell a hermit anywhere.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), U.S. poet, editor. originally published in Atlantic Monthly (Boston, Jan. 1869). On a Certain Condescension in Foreigners, vol. 3, Literary Essays (1890).
  • ''Let us be of good cheer, however, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never come.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), U.S. poet, editor. speech, Oct. 6, 1884, Birmingham, England. "On Democracy," Democracy and Other Addresses (1886).
  • ''Compromise makes a good umbrella but a poor roof.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), U.S. poet, editor. speech, Oct. 6, 1884, Birmingham, England. "On Democracy," published in Democracy and Other Addresses (1886).
  • ''Every man feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.''
    James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), U.S. poet, editor. Originally published in North American Review (Boston, July 1867). Rousseau and the Sentimentalists, Among My Books (1870).

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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 ...

Read the full of The Search

The First Snowfall

THE snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

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