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A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

US nineteenth century poet and author.

Best known for the poem Hiawatha (1855). His first book of poetry was Voices of the Night (1839) which included Hymn to the Night and A Psalm of Life, Ballads and Other Poems (1841) included The Village Blacksmith and The Skeleton in Armor. Among his other works are Outre-Mer: A pilgrimage Beyond the Sea (1833-34), Hyperion (1839), Poems on Slavery (1842), a drama The Spanish Student (1843), Evangeline (1847), Kavanagh and The Seaside and the Fireside (1849), The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863). Among his last collections were The Masque of Pandora (1875) and In the Harbor (1882). He also wrote a translation of Dante (1865-6) and a trilogy Christus (1872) which incorporated an earlier work The Golden Legend.


A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(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 tomorrow
Finds us farther than today.

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 labour and to wait.


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