June 2, 2007

Footprints on the sands of time

We read and learned the poem A PSALM OF LIFE by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as a kid and many phrases from the poem still tumble around in my head.

And so on this day, in celebration of the 90th birthday of a 'great' man.. my grand-father... a man who has lived life to its fullest and the personification of 'up and doing'....here is that gem of a poem. Wish there was reflected in me a small part of him...



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.


Note: A searchable database of his poems is here. Also, I did not realize that 2007 is Longfellow's bi-centennial year and that he lived for more than 45 years in Cambridge, MA and is buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetry, which I pass by often.

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