…But To Act That Each Tomorrow Finds Us Farther Than Today

Growing up back home, we always looked forward to when everyone’s school calendar harmonised and my siblings were all around at the same time on holiday. This typically happened around Christmas or so. During some of those times, there was a poem which we loved to recite. My eldest sister had shared it, we all loved it, and it was fun trying to out-do each other by remembering all the words.

Years on, I still like to recite it to myself, and really think about every stanza. The title of this post is my favourite line and today I’d share it with you.

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 returneth

Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow

Is our destined end or way

But to act that each tomorrow

Finds us farther than today

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, however 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 in the sands of time

Footprints that perhaps another

Sailing over 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 every fate

Still achieving, still pursuing

Learn to labour, and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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