Poem of the Week: “A Psalm of Life”

Image via Public Domain Archive.
Image via Public Domain Archive.

Please forgive my negligence in updating this series and enjoy this poem by Longfellow:

“A Psalm of Life”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,–act in the living Present!
 Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;–

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Source.

5 thoughts on “Poem of the Week: “A Psalm of Life”

  1. A couple years ago in middle school I read this poem in a presentation on Longfellow that I was doing. It’s good to read it again now and have a more mature understanding of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I got put off him by a grade-school teacher who was very enthusiastic about him! He’s quite varied, really (translated Dante!) – you might someday try his Golden Legend: a poetic drama that mightily impressed Charles Williams in his youth, with a fascinating story-insert at the beginning of Act II which can be enjoyed separately with a striking fantasy/science fiction sort of effect I won’t spoil…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Looking for a text of it online (Project Gutenberg has one), I learned that Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert &…) wrote a cantata version of it, which was apparently immensely popular, and which someone has performed and put on YouTube in 9 chunks, so now I’m making it’s acquaintance!

        Like

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