It’s been a minute since I announced the Friday Flashback Edition of my blog. In case you’re new to this space, you can read more about it here.
In short, on Fridays, as I put up my feet and sip on a well deserved glass of wine, I’d be curating some of my favourite poems for you. These will all be brilliant creations that have stuck with me over the years and I can, more often than not, recite them verbatim. For the sake of brevity of the posts, I’d be sharing one such poem a week. Every Friday (I plead guilty to the charge of not having followed this earlier but time has been a flighty mistress. I’m back on track now). They shall be shared in no particular order. I have always been bad at picking just one favourite. That might quite possibly be the reason why I love making lists!
Today’s poem is titled ‘A Psalm of Life’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It is a poignant narration of how life is meant to be lived to the fullest and not as a mere counting of days till the day we lie in our graves. I am absolutely certain that almost all of you must have come across this poem at some point in your life. It’s very famous and highly celebrated. So much so that first time readers would be able to identify a lot of verses as commonly cited inspirational quotes that they’ve heard more than once in their lives. Without further ado, here’s the timeless masterpiece –
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,— 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.”
I hope this poem inspires you in the way it has done for me all my life. I cannot possibly pick my favourite lines from this one because every single one of them is resplendent and overflowing with meaning. I hope each one of us is able to leave behind their footprints etched in the sands of time no matter how fleeting our lives might be. Here’s to not going gentle into that good night! (But I guess that’s for another post 😉)
I would like to thank you for your overwhelming response to the previous post in this edition featuring ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. In case you haven’t read it yet, you can do so by clicking here. I’d be delighted to know your thoughts on this poem and would love to hear your recommendations for further posts.
Thank you for reading.