A Psalm of Life


This inspiring poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807 – 1882) was first published in 1838. It uses an ABAB rhyming pattern. Longfellow explained the poems purpose as “a transcript of my thoughts and feelings at the time I wrote, and of the conviction therein expressed, that Life is something more than an idle dream.” A very famous line from the poem is, “Footprints on the sands of time”.



A Psalm of Life

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.



The poem inspires me to read it again and again as it belongs to the meaning of life. The purpose of life is not death only but there is a certain mysterious truth and reason behind it. Life had not given to take it for granted because it was given to you for a certain accomplishment. The poet foreshadowed again and again the point of view that he has in him. Life is a gift and its not to be worried about future all the time but to live utmost in present. This poem confers me to ponder on that there is something behind that everyone is blessed with this holy gift of life.

Addition to all of this purpose of life is also to live it for others. To be open whatever comes in life or whatever makes your life a dumb or silly one just think about the fact. You are here for a reason, not to just waste oxygen and to take depression which is dilemma of today’s life but you are honored by “A blessed gift, Life.”