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A Psalm of Life - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Sarah Smith

on 3 February 2014

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Transcript of A Psalm of Life - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Psalm of Life - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Allusion is a reference to other works or cultures in prose and poetry. H.W Longfellow has used allusions to convey his message in the poem.
‘Tell me not, in mournful numbers.’
In the above line, numbers refer to the verses in the Bible.
‘Dust thou art, to dust thou returnest’
The above line too has a Biblical reference.
Form and Structure
The poem consists of nine stanzas of four lines each. The poem has regular rhyming pattern. Each stanza follows the rhyme scheme abab where each stanza has 8 syllables, 7, 8, 7. In every stanza, the first line rhymes with the third line and the second line with the fourth.
H.W Longfellow uses similes, alliteration, and metaphors.
Similes:
1. Still, like muffled drums, are beating
2. Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Alliteration:
1. Grave is not its goal
2. Find us further
3. Dumb driven cattle
4. Learn to labour
5. Dust thou art, to dust thou returnest.

Metaphors:
1. Life is but an empty dream.
2. Soul id dead that slumbers…
3. Art is long and Time is fleeting
Meaning
H.W Longfellow points out that one has a duty to make this world a better place to live in. A Psalm of Life is a whole collection of moral principles to be followed by all the people. The principles listed by the poem are:

*Life has a serious mission.
*Life does not end with death.
*We have a destiny irrespective of our joys and sorrows.
*Time is too short for our long mission.
*Become great by emulating great men.
*Learn to labor and wait for results.
*Act now, in the living present.
*Be a hero in the struggle of life.
Theme
We should have a positive attitude towards life. Since life is somewhat short and we have a serious mission, we should begin working on it as soon as we can without being preoccupied with the result of our actions

The central message of "A Psalm of Life" is that people can inspire other people's lives.
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!
Full transcript