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James Russell Lowell
1819 - 1891

American poet, editor, literary critic, lawyer, professor, and diplomat. Lowell succeeded Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as a professor of modern language at Harvard University, and taught there for nearly 20 years, during which time he also edited the Atlantic Monthly Magazine. He then became Minister at the Court of St. James (1880-1885) before returning to Harvard as Professor Emeritus. However despite these many accomplishments, Lowell is best known for the many poems he wrote in the mid-19th century, many of them stirring messages about freedom and the preservation of honor. Author of Democracy and Other Addresses and other works.


In creating, the only hard thing's to begin; A grass-blade's no easier to make than an oak.

1848 - from A Fable for Critics
... I honour the man who is willing to sink, Half of his present repute for the freedom to think, And, when he has thought, be his cause strong or weak, Will risk t'other half for the freedom to speak.

1848 - from A Fable for Critics
Where faith made whole with deed, Breathes its awakening breath into the lifeless creed, They saw [Truth] plumed and mailed, With sweet, stern face unveiled, And all-repaying eyes look proud on them in death.

1877 - from Commemoration Ode
Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship.

Our American republic will endure only as long as the ideas of the men who founded it continue dominant.

New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth; They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth.