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A Psalm of Life

Categories: Life

A Psalm of Life —-Hurry Wadsworth Longfellow Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is noted as the most popular American poet of the nineteenth century. His poetry and narrative works are lyrical with an easy rhythm, making them memorable. Uplifting with topics the “every man” can relate to, Longfellow’s poetry hums in people’s minds like a favorite song. “A psalm of Life” was first published in Voice of the Night in the September edition of New York Monthly in 1839. It is very influential in China, because it is said to the first English poem translated into Chinese.

The poem was written in 1838 when Longfellow was struck with great dismay, his wife died in 1835, and his courtship of a young woman was unrequited. However, despite all the frustrations Longfellow tried to encourage himself by writing a piece of optimistic work—of this one. In the poem, the poetry made his voice of the life is short; instead, the art should be eternal. In this case, human should no fear of the death, but be always moving forward, to cherish the time and take every single opportunity met on the way.

Also, Longfellow expressed in this poet that we should be brave of facing each challenge, no afraid of the unknown future nor waste time in doing the meaningless autistic thinking. Young people should never draw themselves at the moment of the present. The dream couldn’t be accomplished without the actions being put now. In this poet, Longfellow chose to face the death directly, with an optimistic attitude.

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The poetry denied the “life is but an empty dream” in the opening thesis of the poet. In his opinion, human’s soul would be died immediately by the time that falls asleep.

He also pointed out that human’s body would be grown old and become senium, but the spirit should always being moving forward to chase the original objection. The poetry used the trochee which leads the whole poet read rhythm and lively, and give person a kind of uplifting strength. The poem take the rhyme, for instance, “numbers” and “slumbers”; “dream” and “seem”; “earnest” and “returnest”; “dead” and “o’erhead”; and “face” with “wait”. etc. There are 18 reams in total, which makes the whole poem read in a specific way of being beautiful and relaxed.

In the same time, the poetry used the alliteration, such as “art” and “and” in the 4th section; “in” and “in”, “be” and “be” in the 5th section; the “footsteps” and “footprints” in 7th section; the “sailing” and “seeing” in 8th section and the “let” and “learn” in the 9th section. In this poem, we can also see the quotation from the Bible “Dust thou art, to dust returnest”. The poetry regarded life as the camping of the soldiers’ “Bivouac”, to emphasize the shortness of human being’s life, as well as to suggest that life is also a fight filed which contains a lot of struggles.

The whole poem, given the rhythm and urged human to progress, as if contain s the infinite vitality. The poetry highly spoken of that life is struggle. The sprit could be ever lasting though the one’s body has already gone. Life isn’t matter in the faith one people hold, but to live a heroic life. In the last section, Longfellow called on everyone brave to face the fate of any challenge, in short life of struggle to wait, continuously enterprising and after for an ideal life. Attachment: A Psalm of Life 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’er head! 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 face; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.

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A Psalm of Life. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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