Monday, January 2, 2017

Psalm of Life buoys the spirit in these trying times

  Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature - School on Blog 


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Psalm of Life is the perhaps the most important poem written by America's darling poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The poem is among the world's most quoted and recited pieces of literature; in fact, it is a prayer by and in itself. It speaks of universal values, feelings and compassion, of valor and sacrifice, and of victory over ones own battle.

Longfellow himself, a victim of a family tragedy, rose to further fame and dignity. After the death of his wife in an accidental fire he went on raising his young children, and teaching in the university, experimenting with new forms and styles of poetry, producing Hiawatha and Evangeline that revolutionized poetry.

I found a very old publication, Longfellow's Evangeline (copyright 1883)with the author's biographical sketch. In describing Longfellow's trial in life, allow me to quote, "More than a score of years remained with the poet, and he had the love of his children and the comfort of his work, but the grief was so deep and lasting that he could not trust himself to speak the beloved name of his wife."

From sorrow rises a great triumph, and this is the testimony to greatness - to share not how the world should end, but how it must begin again. Not how one closes himself in, but opens himself to others. Not to "Go Gentle into the Night", but stand sentry to the "Light of Dawn".

Psalm of Life is dedicated to victims of calamities - force majeure and man-induced, circumstances beyond control, and all those who find life difficult to bear. May they find comfort, hope, and new meaning of life in Psalm of Life. ~
 
Craigie House where Longfellow lived as professor
at Harvard  in Cambridge, Massachusetts; his study room 

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 further 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, how'ver pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act - act in the living present!
Heart within, and Good 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 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. ~

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