Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

A Psalm Of Life

Poem 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.


Comments about A Psalm Of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • Erin CowartErin Cowart (6/26/2020 7:36:00 AM)

    ...footprints on the sands of time...what a line!(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Sushree Bibhuprada B PriyadarshiniSushree Bibhuprada B Priyadarshini (6/9/2020 10:41:00 AM)

    It s a nice poem really(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Savita TyagiSavita Tyagi (4/21/2020 8:13:00 PM)

    Excellent poem. To work and do our best so that each each tomorrow is better than yesterday is the goal of life.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Goitse Mbatisi (3/3/2020 10:55:00 AM)

    Sir I likely to learn to write about poem to satisfy my family needs and wants(Report)Reply

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  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (2/23/2020 10:18:00 PM)

    Precise form; quatrains rhyming abab and lines of even length. Some
    striking thoughts about mortality in the poem. Or rather immortality of the soul after the death of the body.
    Uplifting thoughts about life: 'Be a hero in the strife! ' Now I want to leave
    'Footprints on the sands of time'. Like great men.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Luz HanaiiLuz Hanaii (2/19/2020 4:18:00 PM)

    Very inspiring and well written, amazing rhyme and flow.(Report)Reply

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    jeff is my dad and we live in a bin(Report)Reply

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  • Chiori MathewChiori Mathew (12/23/2019 12:18:00 PM)

    your poem in my view has a kind of strong words to life which we experience everyday, nicely crafted.(Report)Reply

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  • Bijay Kant Dubey (11/22/2019 10:59:00 PM)

    A Psalm of Life is an inspirational poem which not only inspires, but motivates us to do something in life taking lessons from the lives of the great men who have went ahead, leaving behind footprints on the sands of time.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Chiori MathewChiori Mathew (10/29/2019 8:53:00 AM)

    nice work well crafted
    Pls comment to my poem IGARA CHICKEN(Report)Reply

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  • Gayatri PhukanGayatri Phukan (9/26/2019 4:56:00 PM)

    Beautiful poem.life is real life is earnest(Report)Reply

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  • banana (9/5/2019 9:53:00 AM)

    I hate this poem because its a waste of time and eyesight(Report)Reply

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  • Tapaswini12f@gmail.co (9/5/2019 8:04:00 AM)

    Sundar, bhasha hin jibanisakti jatira(Report)Reply

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  • Bijay Kant Dubey (8/31/2019 6:38:00 AM)

    What is life? How the psalm of it? How the choir doing the rounds? Sad and sombre in a melancholy strain or the sad and solemn music of humanity? Where are the great men walked ahead and gone away? Life is a great lesson and the whole of this life is to learn. So, what it is most important is to keep us going. We must keep doing if we want to learn from and to experience it.(Report)Reply

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  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (8/31/2019 6:06:00 AM)

    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... no life is earnest...... real. very good poem. tony(Report)Reply

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  • Rishi (8/17/2019 10:15:00 PM)

    Very nice poem(Report)Reply

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Read all 189 comments »




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Read poems about / on: funeral, hero, brother, trust, future, fate, sorrow, today, dream, life, heart, time, world, god



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Poem Edited: Monday, May 27, 2013