A PSALM OF LIFE

What 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,–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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



One of my kids introduced this poem to me years ago.  It is one of my very favorites.   Several events have started me thinking of some of the lines.  I hope it inspires someone, like it does me.   By the way, I love Mondays.




  1. Kay McLane February 2, 2016 / 9:23 pm

    Donkey Driver, I thought of you this morning. I was (re)reading Batteson’s “The Circle Maker” and came across a Biblical miracle involving the prophet Balaam and his talking donkey. Just thought I’d pass that along….. Have a wonderful week, Kay/Peace Full Home

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donkey Driver February 2, 2016 / 11:11 pm

      That’s so cool! I haven’t thought of that story forever. How sweet of you to message me. You made my day. Thank you Kay!


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