Friday, September 11, 2009

A Psalm of Life -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I was browsing the Internet for something else and I chanced upon what used to be(and still is) one of my favourite poems while I was a student.

We used to have oral exams for English Poetry back in school. The teacher would pick a few poems that all students had to learn by heart. On the day of the exams, your luck and the little chit of paper you picked would decide which poem you would have to recite in front of the entire class.

We studied Wordsworth, Blake, Frost, Tennyson, Shakespeare, Longfellow....

Of all the poems I've memorised some poems have stayed with me forever.

This is one of them....

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.

1 comment:

Amit said...

Hey, thanks! I remember this one too.. and when i read it now again, i realise that the explanation and understanding given to me by my teacher was not complete..probably just enough for my child mind to accept and appreciate.

Now its very much a different understanding.. this is such an inspiring poem.. :)