Famous Inspirational Poem

This inspiring poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807 - 1882) was first published in 1838. It uses an ABAB rhyming pattern. Longfellow explained the poem's purpose as "a transcript of my thoughts and feelings at the time I wrote, and of the conviction therein expressed, that Life is something more than an idle dream." A very famous line from the poem is, "Footprints on the sands of time".

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My deceased husband introduced me to this poem 55 years ago, and I've always considered it a great gift.

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A Psalm Of Life

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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.

more Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Has this poem touched you? Share your story!
  • by Veronica Ward
  • 1 year ago

My deceased husband introduced me to this poem 55 years ago, and I've always considered it a great gift.

  • by Prageetha Bharathi
  • 1 year ago

Amazing poem. Really inspired me a lot. Hands down the best poem I have ever read.

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