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

Sonnet

The Maple puts her corals on in May,
While loitering frosts about the lowlands cling,
To be in tune with what the robins sing,
Plastering new log-huts 'mid her branches gray;
But when the Autumn southward turns away,
Then in her veins burns most the blood of Spring,
And every leaf, intensely blossoming,
Makes the year's sunset pale the set of day.
O Youth unprescient, were it only so

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