The goals he or she will not waste

The poem, ” A Psalm of Life”, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a prime example of Fireside poetry because it illustrates an optimistic view on the importance of maintaining a positive outlook on life, while also reflecting on 19th century values of hard work and personal responsibility.Longfellow is a firm believer that human life is precious and that every being should approach life with a purpose and a passion. This theme is observed in the second stanza, “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” (Longfellow 5-8). This suggests that Longfellow strongly supports the existence of life, and believes that life is not useless. This educates the reader that life should always be taken seriously, and that our ultimate goal in life should not be death. Longfellow is indirectly emphasizing the value of life, arguing that we should aim to live active, full lives, without allowing any moments to slip away. In the third stanza, Longfellow further advocates living by writing, “Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, is our destined end or way; But to act, that each tomorrow find us farther than today” (Longfellow 9-12). The key aspect Longfellow is trying to convey is that life’s main focus should not be sadness or happiness, but should be working vigorously so that humans can perfect their crafts to achieve the true meaning of life. Longfellow is illustrating the beauty of success and integrity. By focusing on one’s goals he or she will not waste a single moment in his or her lives. Although Heaven may be the ultimate goal to most, Longfellow argues that humans are primarily put on earth to live a positive and productive life.  By focusing on bettering oneself, Longfellow believes the flourishing 19th century values of hard work and personal responsibility would ultimately help shape our future and further contribute to the value of life. In stanza seven, Longfellow’s idea is illustrated through the “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time” (Longfellow 25-28). Essentially, all of the past accomplishments of the men before this generation, should remind humans that this generation can also succeed in anything one strives for. The symbolic footprints represent the achievements humans leave behind after death. By contributing to the future, humans are not only helping others receive courage and guidance, but also gaining fulfillment in one’s own daily life. The recurring theme of living everyday as if it is one’s last is portrayed once more in the fifth stanza, “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 (Longfellow 17- 20)”. This line suggests that the poet is indirectly referring to troops as humans, and is urging mankind to stand up and fight for one another, like a hero. With the comparison to cattle, Longfellow urges the readers to not follow the herd, but instead to follow the right path as a leader. This further portrays that by being helpful towards others, standing up for what is right, and being leaders in current society, one is better fulfilling his or her life. Longfellow paints a motivational picture in “A Psalm of Life”, by inspiring us to utilize every moment we have to its fullest, and to be fearless of death.