Saturday, March 4, 2017

Two Poems About Life

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS
When life is hard we sometimes need a lift. Sometimes it can me a psalm or a song, and sometimes a poem. And sometimes it's a poem that itself is something of a psalm like this one by Longfellow.

A lot of people don't care much for poetry. It may be that some haven't learned what a pleasure it can be because the only time they read poetry growing up was in school where they had to write a paper on it. Poetry wasn't read for enjoyment but for the purpose of getting a grade.

Here's a tip. The only real way to enjoy a poem is to read it slowly. And even better, to read it twice. Enjoy.

A Psalm of Life 
BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

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.

* * * *
The following poem, written by my grandmother Elizabeth Sandy, appeared in a small volume of poems titled Helping the Sun Grow.

Life

If you, in your way of life
Have ever been a stranger
To the dread scarred face,
And frightening ways of danger,
Then the safety you possess
Is hard to realize.
Until some danger threatens you
You blindly close your eyes.

If failure never came to you
Success can have no savor.
Your love must know some hate
Or it can have no flavor!
If sorrow never choked our throats
Or teardrops dimmed our eye
The dizzying heights of happiness
Are lost and gone awry!

He who reads diligently
And after truth has sought
And has truly never doubted
Has as truly never thought!
So use your doubts and sorrows
Like a springboard from the sky,
The lower down they take you
The higher up you fly!

* * * *
Do you enjoy reading or writing poetry? Here's a link to a page on my original website where I've assembled a handful of my own early poems.

Check out some of my other writing at Eds-Books.com, eight books from Free to $15.

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