Poetry

A PSALM OF LIFE

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Poetry

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 thou return-est’,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
finds us father than today.

Art 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 sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’ev 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 labour and wait.

Glossary
a psalm                                                      a song, hymn
mournful numbers                                    sorrowful songs
slumbers                                                   sleeps(the soul, if inactive, is dead)
earnest                                                      serious
Dust. …returnest                                       a quotation from the Bible regarding the mortality of the human body
destined                                                    predetermined
act                                                            to do one’s duty
fleeting                                                    passing quickly
Art                                                           learning, knowledge
muffled                                                   at a funeral, drums are covered with a cloth to deaden the sound and make                                                                            it more solemn
bivouac                                                   a temporary, camp used by soldiers (a French word)
footprint in the sands of time                 Great deeds in the history of man,
be not …. strife                                       Do not submit.Fight
sublime                                                  noble
departing                                                when we die
main                                                       ocean
a forlorn and shipwrecked brother         one who has failed in life and is distressed at his own moral and                                                                                 material ruin
heart for any fate                                   courage to face any situation
shall take heart again                            Others following us will know that we too have had the experiences and                                                        shall overcome hardships.

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