Psalm Of Life-GBMD

June 30. 2009 001 (2)
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 dreams, 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.
–poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow–
My father, who was born in July, used to recite bits of this poem nearly everyday as I was growing up. Only recently was the source discovered and devoured. It speaks volumes about the choices all face with the act of living. To live is a verb, do it, don’t just watch and wait as life passes you by.
Garden Bloggers Muse Day is sponsored by Carolyn Gail of Sweet Home And Garden Chicago.

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22 Responses to Psalm Of Life-GBMD

  1. Lola says:

    A very lovely poem & so appropriate. Life should be lived to the fullest.

    Thanks Lola, so true.

  2. tina says:

    How did you find out its source? Good advice on living for sure.

    Hi Tina, I saw it on a blog, but cannot remember when or where. Maybe whoever posted it will see it here and remember. I know I left a comment and told them how I had been searching for the whole thing for many many years. That is when it was copied and put into a draft for future use. The time seemed right today.

  3. Gail says:

    Frances, Good morning~~How delightful to have a poem quoting dad! I am so glad you were able to locate the source. I am very sure the last lines “Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.” are indelibly written in your consciousness! Your father must have been an incredible and positive role model. Happy July Birthday to him! Gail

    Good morning to you Gail and thanks. My dad was a very important person in shaping who I am. While not without faults, his gusto for living, as I remember it, was without equal. And yes, I was a Daddy’s girl, the very definition of it in fact. 🙂

  4. Janet says:

    Great poem Frances. Happy July!

    Thanks Janet, and same to you!

  5. commonweeder says:

    A wonderful poem with wonderful sentiments. It exhorts us all to improve each shining hour. How lucky you are to have this poem and many others, in your head and heart from childhood. I’ve got my GBMD post up as well.

    Hi Pat, thanks. Your post was wonderful and the attractions you mention sound perfect. Finally seeing the whole poem was a joyous occasion for me.

  6. Good morning, Frances. Thank you for the poem. I still want to live in your shed! So beautiful. K (aka Mad Beach Maven)

    Hi Kathryn, so nice to see you and thank you for visiting. The shed is quite hot just now, perfect for curing the garlic. 🙂

  7. Darla says:

    How precious a memory this is. Thanks for sharing such a personal part of your life.

    Thank you Darla, for those kind words. Memories with poetry make for happy thoughts indeed.

  8. And as I like to say, garden is also a verb!

  9. TC says:

    Henry sure loved to speak of nature. This is a favorite of mine.

  10. Joanne says:

    Hi Frances That’s what I am doing now after my long illness, whilst still trying to raise awareness of the problems surrounding this dreadful illness Lyme Disease.
    A lovely poem and photo.

  11. gittan says:

    So true! And that’s just what I try to do / gittan

    Glad to hear it, dear Gittan. Kram. 🙂

  12. carolyngail says:

    Well you certainly know how to join the party with style and substance, Frances ! Psalm of Life is one of my favorites as well and I especially love the phrase that ” Art is long and life is fleeting. ”

    I’m sure you’ve inspired many of your readers to leave ” footprints in the sands of time so that others will take heart in seeing them. ”

    I’m glad that you were “Daddy’s girl. ” Fathers are such an important influence in their daughter’s life. I lost my mother when I was four and my father was cold and indifferent. Instead of letting a miserable childhood get me down it made me all the more determined to seek contentment and I’m happy to say that I have.

    Hi Carolyn Gail, thanks so much for hosting this wonderful meme. The loss of your mother and coldness of your father were difficult to overcome, I am sure. You have done yourself and the world a great service with your determination to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Seeing your home and garden left no doubts as to the gusto with which you live, not to mention the world’s best restaurant, Andies! 🙂

  13. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Yes, I have heard bits and pieces of this before. I am so glad you found it and posted it for us. It is a deeply beautiful song.

    Hi Lisa, thanks, I am so glad to have found it too. When he would begin with Life is real….I would always roll my eyes and think, oh boy, here he goes again. It was a bit of a joke really and we would all laugh. Fond memories for sure.

  14. Nice to see the whole poem. Your father and my mother must have gone to the same school, she used to quote parts of it on a daily basis also.

    Hi Hands, so nice to see you here. It sounds like your mother was an outgoing individual too. Same school? Let me think, somewhere in Missouri probably. HA 🙂

  15. VP says:

    Hi Frances – I can’t believe this is your first Muse Day when you have so many poetic turns of phrases! I especially like ‘Be a hero in the strife’.

    Thanks for the imagery you conjured up especially for my muse day post – I particularly like the thought of 5 acres and a barn 🙂

  16. Jean says:

    That’s a lovely poem and just what I needed to hear. Thank you and have a lovely 4th of July holiday!

  17. Rose says:

    What a wise man your father must have been! I never read much of Longfellow–apparently my college professors didn’t think he was worthy of much study–but I am enjoying so many of his poems now. This is a wonderful poem with a sentiment that we should all embrace. Happy Muse Day, and a happy Fourth to you!

  18. Sue says:

    I like the part about our souls will not be part of the dust and ashes when we die. Our souls are eternal. Praise God!

    Happy 4th to you, too!

  19. Beckie says:

    Frances, what a delightful muse day poem. And how very special to know your Dad loved it. I especially like “Act,-act in the living present!” This seems to be a theme this week in blog land and is very good advice.

    Habe a wonderful 4th!!

  20. marmee says:

    your father was a deep thinker and you recieved that gift too. life is precious and should be enjoyed every minute. gardening can prolong our lives and make the time so much fuller.
    happy fourth!

  21. joey says:

    Amen, Frances. Enjoy this beautiful 4th!

  22. Rebecca says:

    Sermon in poem….And the photo–be still my heart. I felt like I could inhale the very air! I crave quiet spots like these.

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