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A Psalm of Life


What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

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.

n 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.

         It’s not because that I’ve noticed a lot liked my poems, and also not because I just finished John Green’s Paper Towns which talks about H.W. Longfellow’s poem, or probably it could be. But honestly, I have been longing for a long time to tell the world how I feel about this poem. Probably I wanted to talk with somebody over this poem. This century old poem that still tells true about our society, about how we live.

          First, let us define a poem. As defined by the Merriam-Webster, a poem is  “a piece of writing that usually has figurative language and that is written in separate lines that often have a repeated rhythm and sometimes rhyme.” Obviously we could have define a poem without searching for its meaning. We can even distinguish a poem instantly, because of its form. For one thing about appreciating things is appreciating its form.

          But today is not the day we’re going to talk about the form of poems, for I loved this poem because of its content. Life. That is the basic content of H.W. Longfellow’s poem. And when somebody talks about life, it goes deep, but this one didn’t. Obviously he has the idea of what real living is. It should be as simple as his poem.

          Of course there are complexities, but as his subject, life is in the first place a complex thing to discuss.In this poem he talked about living life in the present moment, and about taking things not for granted. He is telling us how to make each day count and be a hero of ourselves. At some point I even feel like he is telling us to be ourselves, as humans tend to live by the standards of its society.

          But then he is also somehow telling us how we learn from other’s people’s life, and that we also are affecting someone’s life. We are not living for ourselves alone. So by living life how we always wanted it, we are told that we should think of our actions too because we aren’t alone.

          Another thing I liked about this poem is how he talked about after life. Certainly not everyone believes it, but he talked as if it really exist. As if he knows what is really behind that horizon defining our existence here. Somehow by talking about that, he gives hope to those who hope and also tho those who aren’t really hoping.

          Also, the way he talked about the end of life is that it ends. Just like that, and probably its one of the element in making his poem more effective. I could have talked a thousand things about this poem. To how I encountered it, which I can’t even remember. To how many times I read it, probably a thousand times now. But then its really something to talk about by not just me, so what do you think?