A Psalm of Life (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.

A little different from the poetry which I usually share, I chose A Psalm of Life because of the optimistic tone of the poem and how inspirational it is.

The poet reveals to the reader his disdain for pessimists, in particular with a negative outlook of life, before reinforcing his belief that life is full of opportunities and possibilities. Life is not  just a race to the grave. Everyone interprets poetry in different ways but this more than just a poem, it’s also a call for us to keep faith in life’s power and potential.

The positivity running throughout the poem is infectious. Not only that, but it has a valuable lesson for everyone. Life is full of opportunities and possibilities which we can take advantage of when we use our time wisely and work hard

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