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Quotations about Lighthouses

Related Quotes      Light      Water      Weather      Night      Helping

The meagre lighthouse all in white, haunting the seaboard, as if it were the ghost of an edifice that had once had colour and rotundity, dripped melancholy tears after its late buffeting by the waves. ~Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

One moment I gaz'd from the hill's gentle slope,
All hush'd was the billows' commotion,
And tho't that the Light-house look'd lovely as Hope,
That star of life's tremulous ocean.
~Thomas Moore, "The Light House," c.1811

She is like a revolving light-house—pitch darkness alternating with a dazzling brilliancy. ~Henry James, "Washington Square," 1880  [Doctor Sloper. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

At the foot of the lighthouse it is dark. ~Japanese proverb, quoted in Eastern Proverbs and Emblems Illustrating Old Truths by J. Long, 1881

Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. ~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, "The Last Class," 1994

Presently a light breeze sprang up, rolling the fog before it, and then dying away, leaving the lighthouse enshrouded.... The two great fog-bells of the lighthouse were therefore set agoing, and they rang out their slow deep-toned peal all that day and all that night... ~R.M. Ballantyne, The Lighthouse: Being the Story of a Great Fight Between Man and the Sea, 1865

Guide-star of hope, whose bright translucent ray
Directs the sailor on the devious way;
Warns him of craggy rocks, of quicksands drear,
And forms a light his fragile bark to steer.
~John William Smith, "The Lighthouse," Terrors of Imagination, and Other Poems, 1814

The lighthouse does great service to humanity; yet it is the slave of those who trim the lamps. ~Alice Wellington Rollins (1847–1897)

Lighthouses are not just stone, brick, metal, and glass. There's a human story at every lighthouse; that's the story I want to tell. ~Elinor DeWire

As souls float into a harbour of light,
      When the voyage of life is done,
      The ships sail into the bright
      Gold track of the setting sun.
But the sea is never at peace,
      And my heart is always sad;
      Oh, when will the murmur of ocean cease,
      And when will my soul be glad?
~Elizabeth Harcourt Mitchell, The Lighthouse: A Novel, 1860

It was as if she lived only on clear, salty air, and when the day came for her to pass away, she would probably do exactly that. Just take a step to one side. Dissolve into a north-westerly wind as it whirled around the lighthouse at North Point, then out across the sea. ~John Ajvide Lindqvist, Harbor, 2008, translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, 2010  [Anna-Greta. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

When winds and waves a mutual contest wage,
These foaming anger, those impelling rage;
Thy blissful light can cheer the dismal gloom,
And foster hopes beyond a wat'ry doom.
~John William Smith, "The Lighthouse," Terrors of Imagination, and Other Poems, 1814

There is a lighthouse—no matter where. It was built—no matter when. It stands on a wild and rocky coast, and has been shaken by many a storm. It bears a red light, revolving at intervals of thirty-five seconds. Many a despairing heart has been cheered, and many a home-sick soul made joyous, as the little red speck appeared in the horizon, and told it that home was near, and the dangers of the voyage almost over. The crew of the great warship rejoiced as she passed within hail of the tower, labouring under her heavy canvas, and making a foaming way through the calm and mighty waters. They felt that now indeed their burning watch in the tropical regions was over; that, for a time, at least, they might rest in their homes, and revel in the delights of Old England; and fathers, brothers, sons, greeting with eager eyes the first dawn of morning, which should prove to them the red light had spoken truly. ~Elizabeth Harcourt Mitchell, The Lighthouse: A Novel, 1860

Life has its Lighthouse, in each fleeting stage,
In youth, in manhood, and in hoary age...
In age illum'd with philosophic flame,
From Reason's Lighthouse still we steer the same;
Calm and serene our vessels onward glide,
And share the comforts of a middle tide;
Till, the last squall by fate's own edict blown,
Death wrecks our vessels on a coast unknown.
~John William Smith, "The Lighthouse," Terrors of Imagination, and Other Poems, 1814

Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. ~E.P. Whipple

The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some miles away,
The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Lighthouse"

Lobsters were tossed up to the men by friendly fishermen. Beer was handed up as well and kept cold in the freshwater tanks in the lighthouse. If the Coast Guard ship Sassafras was sighted heading in with an inspector on board, the brew was hidden in the rocks... ~Elinor DeWire, Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic Coast

I learnt to love the Lighthouse...
I found it a companion
      On many a wintry night,
      When from our little harbour
      I watch'd the friendly light.
It seem'd, when lives around me
      Were fraught with changes ever,
      A glad thing to behold one light
      False or inconstant never.
~Rowland Brown, "The Lighthouse," Songs of Early Spring, with Lays of Later Life, 1872

There are times when the ocean is not the ocean—not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only the gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most. ~M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans, 2012

Build high the lighthouse, Architect,
In beauty, strength, and might...
Day and night its lamp of light
Shall cast its cheerful glow,
And on the wrecking rocks its flame,
Like a burning rose, shall blow...
~Richard Sheldon Chadwick, "Building the Lighthouse," c.1856

He seemed to live only for his lantern. He was generally known amongst the fishermen and others as "John of the Lighthouse," and was nicknamed by them, "Jack-o'-Lantern." There he lived, silently, watchfully, his eyes ever fixed on the vessels going or returning; isolated from his fellow-beings; above life, and yet below it; above its affections, its hopes, its fears, its sympathies, and yet only half alive; dead to the world, and yet a world to himself; a fiery human soul in the midst of a waste of waters. ~Elizabeth Harcourt Mitchell, The Lighthouse: A Novel, 1860, a little altered

Its light seemed brighter to twinkle,
      As if from passing ships
      It heard the benedictions
      Fall from the sailors' lips.
And it seem'd to tell me the secret
      That gave it power to win
      The trust of the anxious seamen—
      Its light shone from within.
~Rowland Brown, "The Lighthouse," Songs of Early Spring, with Lays of Later Life, 1872

Lighthouses are more helpful than churches. ~Benjamin Franklin

And now in far quarters of the horizon
lighthouses are awake, sending messages —
invitations to the landlocked,
warnings to the experienced,
but to anyone returning from the planet ocean,
candles in the windows of a safe earth.
~Anne Stevenson, "North Sea Off Carnoustie"

Metaphysics is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a philosophic wreck. ~Immanuel Kant

And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,
Through the deep purple of the twilight air,
Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light
With strange, unearthly splendour in its glare!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Lighthouse"

Shining brightly through the misty twilight air, Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse is the first beacon mariners encounter as they navigate the treacherous route up Delaware Bay. Perched at the end of the longest breakwater in the United States, it is accessible only by boat. During its manned years, keepers' daily lives were ruled by the uncertainty of weather. "Seas running" meant no boat could dock and shore leave was cancelled. Men were sometimes marooned on the tower for weeks. ~Elinor DeWire, Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic Coast

Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on for evermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
It sees the ocean to its bosom clasp
The rocks and sea-sand with the kiss of peace...
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Lighthouse"

[W]e have a light upon our house, and it gives hope to all who sail upon the stormy seas. Do ya know what it means to have a light burning atop your home? It is safety, a place of refuge, seen by all as a signal that ye stand for something greater than this world, greater than us all. ~James Michael Pratt, The Lighthouse Keeper, 2000  ["This life is a shadowy thing, lad. We live in a crowded space of lights and shadows..." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

To a friend or foe, 'tis all the same,
The lighthouse sheds her flickering flame;
And by her aid on a stormy sea
The coursers of the deep ride free,
Safe from the rocks and sands which sleep
Out of sight in the treacherous deep;
She guides them safe to Albion's shore,
When the perils of the voyage are o'er.
      Then hurrah, &c.
~William Thomas Birch, "The Lighthouse," Home Reveries, 1871

The light was maintained 365 days a year in all manner of weather... Men missed their wives and children on holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries, giving total allegiance to the light. In many respects, the Coast Guard era was no different than the days of the old "wickies," the nickname given to lightkeepers prior to electrification when oil lamps illuminated the beacon and wicks had to be trimmed. ~Elinor DeWire, Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic Coast

So Virtue shines in tribulation's night,
And wide illumes the prospect with her light;
Firm on a rock she guides us thro' the storm,
When ruffling tempests every hope deform...
~John William Smith, "The Lighthouse," Terrors of Imagination, and Other Poems, 1814

"There was a feeling of joy, gratitude, and wonder," says a writer, "when Smeaton's friends with difficulty descried the form of his lighthouse through the still dark and troubled air. It was uninjured, even to a pane of glass in the lantern." And there it has ever since remained, despite the storms of a century and more. Long may it and its lonely brethren keep our shores from being strewn with wreck of ships and the lifeless bodies of them whose business is in the great waters! ~G.S.O., "The Lighthouse," in The American Chatterbox, 1882–1883

Once the lighthouse is seen, the rest of the sea is ignored. ~Terri Guillemets

Beam of light,
      Fair and bright,
      Piercing through the veil of night,
Guide the ships!
      As each dips
      In the mouth and o'er the lips,
Of the wave,
      Where the brave
      Seaman oft has found a grave.
~M.S.L., "The Lighthouse," The Story of My Love, and Other Poems, 1874

[M]an is a unit. His capacities are very much greater than simply the sum of those of the body alone, plus those of the mind alone, plus those of the soul by itself. Man might be called the product of the three, rather than their sum. What would man amount to without a soul, or, rather, what would a body and mind be, for it would not be man, without a soul? What would a light-house be without a light? And even if a perfect light were in a light-house, but if the foundations were weak, the glasses dirty, the machinery that revolved around the light out of order, or the light-house so low that the light could be seen only a little way, how much these mechanical defects would detract from what might have been accomplished! ~Luther Gulick, M.D., "Our New Gymnastics," read before the 28th International Convention of Young Men's Christian Associations, Philadelphia, May 1889, a little altered

Loud howls the wind, and the sea runs high,
Bearing the burden of many a cry
For help to land, while the vessel runs,
Firing at random her signal guns.
Black is the night as a sable pall;
The thunder answers the sailor's call;
And all seems lost till the friendly light
Of the lighthouse bursts on the wearied sight.
      Then hurrah for the lighthouse, hurrah!
      Her light shall shine o'er the billows afar,
      Wherever gloom and doubt prevail,
      To guard the storm-tossed shattered sail.
~William Thomas Birch, "The Lighthouse," Home Reveries, 1871

Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships. ~Charles Simic

The tranquil moonlit waters of the Chesapeake Bay belie its perilous course. Colonists quickly realized that prosperity from the commerce this and other waterways afforded would come at great risk. Lighthouses were desperately needed, but nearly two centuries would pass before the first sentinels lit the New World. ~Elinor DeWire, Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic Coast

[E]very man should take heed... to the way in which he treats his conscience.... When we put a lighthouse on the coast, that in the night mariners may explore the dark and terrible way of the sea, we not only swing glass around about it to protect it, but we enclose that glass itself in a network of iron wire, that birds may not dash it in, that summer winds may not sweep it out, and that swarms of insects may not destroy themselves and the light. For if the light in the lighthouse be put out, how great a darkness falls upon the land and upon the sea! And the mariner, waiting for the light, or seeing it not, miscalculates, and perishes. Now, a man's conscience ought to be protected from those influences that would diminish its light, or that would put it out... ~Henry Ward Beecher, "The Unpardonable Sin" (sermon), c.1864

We are the captains of our own ships sailing the sea of life, but in times of a stormy weather, you will discover true friends when they don’t hesitate to be a lighthouse. ~Dodinsky,

It were a quare bit o' masonry the old lighthouse. If I shut my eyes, I can see her now, the sea sweeping over the lantern in clouds of spray. We tried to plant a bit o' a garden under the lea, but the grasping, greedy ocean 'ud find us out, and the more earth we took out to the lighthouse rock the more it made for the sea to swallow.
~H. Somerset Bullock, "Jess: A Lighthouse Heroine," in Home Words for Heart and Hearth, Vol. XXIII, No. X, 1893

We are apt to look upon the lighthouse as completely a modern invention, but a little reflection would convince us that the early navigators, in their arduous struggle against the ocean, could not have failed to establish some sure indications by which to guide their adventurous course. Undoubtedly, the first rude signal would be no more than a huge fire blazing on the wave-washed promontory, or on the summit of hoary hill or grassy mound nearest to the more dangerous parts of the shore. But it can easily be conceived that the difficulty of keeping these fires kindled on stormy nights would soon suggest to man's ingenuity the idea of erecting a suitable structure for their shelter. ~W.H. Davenport Adams, "Ancient History of Lighthouses: The Fire-Towers of the Mediterranean," Lighthouses and Lightships, 1870

The lighthouse... a vital link in the chain of navigational aids guarding Delaware Bay. Storms accost it, ice grinds and gnaws its concrete base, and thousands of vessels, from small recreational boats to mega-tankers, seek its guiding light each year. ~Elinor DeWire, Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic Coast

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Last modified 2018 Jul 17 Tue 15:32 PDT

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