Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

"Psalm of Life," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Transcription of the Poem

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 tomorrow
            Find us farther than to – day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
              And our hearts, tho 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,
But not like dumb, driven cattle!
              Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no future how e’er pleasant!
              Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act — act in the living present!
              Heart within, and God o’er head!

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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Born in Maine 1807
Information about this poem

Biography of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Description of Poem: Formal Elements

Explication of the Poem

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