Thursday, March 08, 2007

Poet Longfellow!

Speaking of poetry and Longfellow, as a kid, I was once considered a poet by an admirer. Here's a rough paraphrase of their comment: “Ron, you’re a poet but don’t know it. But your feet sure do show it. They’re Longfellows!”

On a more serious note, one of my sons, Geoffrey, attended a medium sized Christian prep school called Minnehaha Academy. As you may surmise, it’s located near Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis Minnesota. The falls is in Minnehaha Park, a large city park on the shores of the Mississippi River. The park includes picnic areas, trails, sculpture and the 53 foot falls, just off of Hiawatha Ave (Route 55). Although Longfellow never visited the spot, Minnehaha Falls is the waterfall of his Song of Hiawatha.

By the way, when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow turned 70 on February 27, 1877, the USA celebrated the day, hosting parades across the land in his honor and sending "salutations and friendly greetings from far and near." Had he the constitution of Methuselah, this year he would have celebrated his 200th birthday with the writing of another amazing poem.

In his day, Longfellow was a star. More than 50,000 bought The Song of Hiawatha. His friend Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "No other poet has anything like your vogue." People from all walks of life would knock on the door of his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to ask for autographs.

"A Psalm of Life" is one of Longfellow’s best-known works. It captures the kind of poetic spirit that will continually make him one of America's favorite poets

A Psalm of Life
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

enjoy, ron

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