A Psalm of Life for TNPSC Exams Group 2, Group 2A, Group 3, Group 4, VAO.

A Psalm of Life (12th, Part 2 , Page No: 51)


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.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Figures of speech observed in the following Poems

Alliteration:
 SENTENCE
Tell me not, in mournfulnumbers
  m
Tell me not, in mournful numbers
  n
For the soul is dead that slumbers
  s
And the grave is not its goal
  g
Was not spoken of the soul
  s
But to act, that each to-morrow
  t
Find us farther than to-day
  f
In the world’s broad field of battle
  b
Be not like dumbdrivencattle
  d
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main
  s
With a heart for any fate;
  f
Learn to labor and to wait
  l

Allusion:
 SENTENCE
Dust thou art, to dust returnest
  Biblical
Let the dead Past bury its dead
  Biblical

Simile:
 SENTENCE
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Be not like dumb, driven cattle

Metaphor
 SENTENCE
Life is but an empty dream
In the bivouac of Life
Footprints on the sands of time
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main

Personification:
 SENTENCE
For the soul is dead that slumbers
And our hearts, though stout and brave
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
A forlorn and ship wrecked brother

Oxymoron:
 SENTENCE
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow

Anaphora:
 SENTENCE
Life is real! Life is earnest
Dust thou art, to dust returnest
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow
Let the dead Past bury its dead

Repetition:
 SENTENCE
Act,—act in the living Present
Still achieving, still pursuing

Rhyme Scheme: ab ab.

Rhyming words:
Numbers, Slumbers – dream, seem – earnest, returnest – goal, soul – sorrow, tomorrow – way, today – fleeting, beating – brave, grave – battle, cattle – life, strife – pleasant, present – dead, overhead  – remind us, behind us – sublime, time –  another, brother – main, again – doing, pursuing  – fate, wait.


About Poetry

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), the great American poet, was a professor at Harvard. His great fame began with the publication of his first volume of poems ‘Voices of the Night’ in 1839, which included “A Psalm of Life,” one of nineteenth century’s best-loved poems. His other collections include Ballads (1841), Evangeline (1847), Hiawatha (1855), The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858) and
Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863). Longfellow was the most popular poet of his age and during his lifetime he became a ‘national institution’. “His work was musical, mildly romantic, highminded, and flavored with sentimental preachment” (Norton Anthology of American Literature).
“This poem seems to give a great deal of good advice. It tells the reader not to waste his/her time but to be up and going; not to be discouraged by failures but to have a heart for any fate; not to judge life by temporary standards but to look toeternal reward.” (Brooks and Warren)

S.NoWordsMeanings
1psalm              song or poem
2numbers             poetic meters , rhythms
3mournful              sad
4slumbers              sleep(aimlessly spend time)
5destined end              goal
6fleeting              passing/brief
7stout                       strong
8muffled              not easy to hear
9the bivouac of life              simple temporary camp
              made by soldiers
10forlon              lonely and sad
11strife              struggle
12take a heart again              gaining confidence in life
11labour              hard work
12sublime              noble

Thanks For Reading

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