A Psalm of Life

'Life that shall send
A challenge to its end,
And when it comes, say, 'Welcome, friend.'

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 destin'd 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, howev'er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act--act in the glorious Present!
    Heart within, and God o'er head!

Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
    Footsteps on the sands of time.

Footsteps, that, perhaps another,
    Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwreck'd brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
Shall achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.