Thought Directory

Friday, July 30, 2010

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 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.

What the heart of the young man
said to the psalmist.
The first stanza of the poem tells us not to complain about how we fail, and how we suffer, and how we think life's an empty dream. Because if we just sit around and complain, then we're practically good for nothing. Besides, we often mistake a blessing for a curse. The second says hat life is real, life is earnest, and we're not living simply to one day die. Our bodies were made from the dust of the earth and to that which it came it shall return, but our souls were not made from the dust so they will  not return to the dust. The third says that no future is ever promised, good or bad, but we should not let that deter us from moving on and improving day after day. The fourth says that learning is slow, and time passes quickly. And, though our hearts may be the bravest, we can do not to stop it. We WILL one day die and pass onto the next life. The fifth, my favorite, says for us not to be like dumb driven cattle in our lives and in the conduct and business of others, but to stand for what's right and do something, be a hero. The sixth once again reminds us not to trust any promises of the future, for anything is subject to change other than the Lord Himself. We should also let go of the past, for, well, it IS the past and we can do not to change it. We should act for today, act for other's, and act for God and he will bless us. The seventh brings us to remember the good men in history, not just John Adams and Abraham Lincoln, but the ones even further back such as Moses and Noah and etc. They left a good history, they changed things, and they left behind examples and wise words for us to follow. And we can do the same for others. Leaving our own footprints in history. And, with the eighth stanza, perhaps another walking down the same path that we were once on will learn from our mistakes and our examples and that path will then be, at least, easier. The ninth stanza closes up this fine poem by telling us to be up and doing and to keep our hearts and minds in check, and, also to work hard and be patient.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the amazing, poetic, bright, and wise man; gives us prudent words for all our young minds, hearts, and even souls to follow. To never trust the future, to let go of the past, to keep our heads out of the clouds, to act for God and for others (one in the same), to leave behind examples, and to work hard and be patient. But he introduces it so that the rhythm of the poem keeps us reading and also describes the rhythm of life. The good, the bad, and the in-between. Shouldn't we all be heroes? Shouldn't we all be looked up to by someone going down the same path we once did? Yes, and yes. But we can only achieve these things by following Longfellow's words, and more importantly God's word.

Your friend, classmate, comrade, or whatever else you wish to call me (within good reason),

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