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
   Finds 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.
 

Poems by This Author

Evangeline [excerpt] by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Lovely the moonlight was as it glanced and gleamed on the water
Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Haunted Houses by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
All houses wherein men have lived and died
Hymn to the Night by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I heard the trailing garments of the Night
Introduction to Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
My Lost Youth by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Often I think of the beautiful town
Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Snow-Flakes by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Out of the bosom of the Air
Song of the Owl by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
The owl
The Children's Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Between the dark and the daylight,
The Cross of Snow by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In the long, sleepless watches of the night
The Day Is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is done, and the darkness
The Harvest Moon by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
The Song of Hiawatha [excerpt] by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
All day long roved Hiawatha
The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The tide rises, the tide falls
Today We Make the Poet's Words Our Own by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
To-day we make the poet's words our own
Woods in Winter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When winter winds are piercing chill


Further Reading

Carpe Diem
A Shropshire Lad, II
by A. E. Housman
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII [All the world's a stage]
by William Shakespeare
Three Airs for the Beggar’s Opera, Air XXII
by John Gay
Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene III [O Mistress mine, where are you roaming?]
by William Shakespeare
A Song On the End of the World
by Czeslaw Milosz
Another Song [Are they shadows that we see?]
by Samuel Daniel
Anything Can Happen
by Seamus Heaney
Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Barter
by Sara Teasdale
Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
Carpe Diem: Poems for Making the Most of Time
Daphnis and Chloe
by Haniel Long
Days
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dreams
by Langston Hughes
Exact
by Rae Armantrout
First Fig
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I Have News for You
by Tony Hoagland
I saw a man pursuing the horizon
by Stephen Crane
I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl (443)
by Emily Dickinson
If—
by Rudyard Kipling
Live Blindly and Upon the Hour
by Trumbull Stickney
My life closed twice before its close (96)
by Emily Dickinson
My life has been the poem I would have writ
by Henry David Thoreau
O Me! O Life!
by Walt Whitman
O, Gather Me the Rose
by William Ernest Henley
Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
by Noah Eli Gordon
Song of Myself, III
by Walt Whitman
Song to Celia
by Ben Jonson
Thanatopsis
by William Cullen Bryant
the gate
by Tadeusz Różewicz
The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
To His Coy Mistress
by Andrew Marvell
To Rosa
by Abraham Lincoln
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
by Robert Herrick
Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam
by Ernest Dowson
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths
by Philip James Bailey
When I consider every thing that grows (Sonnet 15)
by William Shakespeare
You Can't Have It All
by Barbara Ras