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A Psalm of Life

A Psalm of Life

When examining a poem, there are many ways one can explicate it. Paper Masters recommends taking each line and explaining it word by word. Remember to look at the poem in the overall context of what the author means.

Here are a few facts about A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

  • Inspired by the work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Was written about a conversation he had with a fellow Professor at Harvard
  • Poem was first published in The Knickerbocker

The poem, "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one that makes the declaration that life must be lived to the fullest. The poem also hints of life after death, "For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem" . Longfellow seems to be stating that in order to live life to the fullest, one must also believe in the promise of life after death.

A Psalm of Life and Longfellow's Heaven

The path to an ever lasting life is one that all mortals take, "In our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow, Find us further than to-day" . Longfellow seems to be indicating that in order to reach true fulfillment, the actions we take in life should lead us in the right direction toward a rewarding life in Heaven.

Next Longfellow indicates that mortal life is short by comparing it to "Art" which is endless. Yet while mortals may die, their death does not mean the end of life. Longfellow further indicates that life on earth is not easy, yet it is all the better for those who are brave enough to live it to its fullest.

Longfellow's Poem

Later on in the poem Longfellow indicates that we pattern our lives after the successes of others, and that those who follow us in life will do the same. The major theme of the poem is that God will take care of his people, and that his people should take heart in knowing that death is not the end of life.

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