Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

A Psalm Of Life - Poem by 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 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.

Comments about A Psalm Of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • Rookie - 0 Points Deborah Patterson (9/11/2015 9:28:00 PM)

    My beloved Mother wrote this is in my 6th grade autograph book. I have never forgotten the part that says lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime and departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time. I miss my Mother but she lives in my heart. (Report) Reply

    9 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Silver Star - 4,256 Points Soumita Sarkar (9/6/2015 8:56:00 AM)

    What an antithesis of words..daring..yet so alive to the truth of live...hopeful and so inspiring.....Loved it.Thanks Dear Soul Longfellow....we shall follow..... (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 15,874 Points Bharati Nayak (9/6/2015 6:20:00 AM)

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Foot prints on the sands of time.

    Let us be then up and doing
    With a heart for any fate
    Still achieving, still pursuing
    Learn to labor and to wait.- - - - Each stanza of this poem is like a gem. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,497 Points Dedan Onyango (7/18/2015 5:41:00 AM)

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.

    The final line bears alot of wait to our human life.
    That we strike gold and wait
    we dig and dig nad wait. great piece indeed. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 170 Points Surajit Banerjee (6/11/2015 8:47:00 AM)

    What a materialistic approach to life. Wow (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 13 Points Anurag Sharma (6/8/2015 12:14:00 PM)

    i am touched.......really longfellow is the master of the words (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 592 Points Folayemi Akande (4/14/2015 2:53:00 PM)

    Eloquent be the quill that carved this emperise work of art. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 5 Points Mwangi Ian (3/19/2015 2:18:00 PM)

    ... it touched mine heart_and for nine it never hurt. Then it gave me a dream_and that surely is me. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 36,460 Points * Sunprincess * (6/17/2014 9:04:00 PM)

    ........this poem says we should be working everyday to help our self.....and doing something to help others....cause we have plenty of time to rest after we pass away.... (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 8,689 Points Herbert Guitang (4/25/2014 8:34:00 AM)

    A diamond voice within. A diamond kind of poem. Full of brilliance (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 826 Points Birgitta Abimbola Heikka (4/15/2014 7:39:00 PM)

    One of my favorite poems. Can never get tired of reading it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 20 Points Leesaan Robertson (4/14/2014 7:02:00 PM)

    Great poem with such a significant message. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 406 Points Richard Blay (4/14/2014 2:28:00 PM)

    lovely poem there, felt it lesson. great! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 112 Points Thomas Vaughan Jones (4/14/2014 1:29:00 PM)

    Curious. The poet switches from an avuncular advisor to a friendly workmate and never misses a step. Great message couched in perfect rhyme. Let us be up and doing, concentrating on the spiritual and letting materialism take back seat. What poet in any generation could do more. (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 3,219 Points Babatunde Aremu (4/14/2014 4:28:00 AM)

    What else can I say than to say thank you for this evergreen 'sermon' (poem) . Great write (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 30,255 Points Sandra Feldman (4/14/2014 1:29:00 AM)

    Great advise in beautiful stanzas.
    But the world today does not listen
    They only want drugs and extravaganzas (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,839 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (4/1/2014 11:56:00 AM)

    Very wise and well written..good message..Enjoy living! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kit Shum (3/26/2014 10:52:00 PM)

    Probably the greatest poem I have ever read. We had to recite this for class, and to this day, I can still do it. A rousing and inspiring poem that every young person should learn. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Paul Stone (3/23/2014 4:42:00 PM)

    The struggle for meaning in the face of mystery challenges every person; great religions share this and Judeo-Christianity perhaps more than others the beauty of individuality as well as relationship. While rarely using religious language, Longfellow indeed tells us much of what faith teaches about the meaning and value of life itself; doubt-
    less God's greatest creation. Longfellow wrestles fearlessly it would seem, the existential question. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,139 Points Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (3/1/2014 8:48:00 AM)

    Foot prints of those who walked and died
    Embedded in our prose, poetry and mind
    Such as him worthy of every verse that rings
    Truly timeless in its beauty and the bliss it brings...............

    My favorite poet and poem. I welcome all to my page too (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: funeral, hero, brother, trust, future, fate, sorrow, today, dream, life, heart, time, world, god

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Poem Edited: Monday, May 27, 2013

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