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