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A 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 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 labor and to wait


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1838
















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