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A Psalm Of Life What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist 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.
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  Integration of Longfellow’s Poetry into American Studies©2005 Maine Memory Network Created by Mary Moore and Dana AndersonPage 1 of 2 A Psalm Of Life What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist 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. From www.MaineMemory.net, item 9904,courtesy of Pejepscot Historical Society   From www.MaineMemory.net, item10591, courtesy of Maine HistoricalSociety   Enrichment Links: www.mainememory.netWonderful resources to explore daily Civil Warlife, including letters and other icons of the era(like this poem)  Integration of Longfellow’s Poetry into American Studies©2005 Maine Memory Network Created by Mary Moore and Dana AndersonPage 2 of 2 Central guiding questions : 1.   What part(s) of this poem reflect Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s attempt todefine American identity?2.   What is Longfellow’s message in his poem and is this message still relevanttoday?3.   Looking at his message, what qualities and values as a person do you think HWLlived by?4.   Describe Longfellow’s voice in this poem and how does it reflect his message?5.   Which images in the poem strengthen/illuminate Longfellow’s message?6.   What traditional poetic conventions (i.e. rhyme, simile, meter, etc.) can youidentify in this poem? Do they enhance your appreciation for the poem?
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