A Psalm of Life

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist


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 ¡ªact 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 35

Learn to labor and to wait.

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