A Psalm Of Life

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.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Comments (3)

Overcome by nervous hesitancy and trepidation, the poet cannot declare all his love for his friend. His Sonnets must speak for him..
Having committed himself perhaps more than he intended, the poet now has to explain why at times he is tongue-tied in his love's company. It is, he says, mainly due to the magnitude of his love, the hugeness of it being such that it becomes like a burden almost too large to carry. He is like an actor who cannot remember his lines, or a wild beast in a fury thrashing around in futility, unable to achieve anything. Let his love come to the rescue by understanding his looks, how they speak silently, how they foretell the store of love which is buried within, even more so than that other (poet? lover?) who is so glib with his tongue. Although love is blind, he has the ability, if he wishes, to hear with his eyes.
Awesome I like this poem, check mine out