Thursday, August 7, 2008

poetry, yes we can

Longfellow's poem reminded me of why I love poetry...
I've been studying creative non-fiction but I think a poetry writing class will be next in line for me to take.... or at least coming soon...

A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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 to each to-morrow
Finds 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.


This poem perfectly expresses the need for patience, persistence and sustaining optimism when attempting to improve the world in some way. Pragmatic optimism. Hope. And hard work. It's also a reminder that in order to do anything important, powerful, or difficult, one has to persist despite other's claims that the odds are against successfully accomplishing a goal,a dream, victory. Statistics work for those who do not want to try. They are manipulated excuses. They can be useful, and honest, but they are also deceptive. Many battles worth fighting require us to overcome statistics. Lets make our own statistics.

I rather tackle a difficult task then assume it impossible. I refuse to accept my agency with apathy. to problems. I prefer to struggle and fight for my dreams and hopes, even if at times they're overwhelming. Art is overwhelming. And that makes it beautiful. The sky is overwhelming. The ocean. But they are there and they are beautiful. And sometimes I forget about them. But they are there.

Our universal mortality as human beings is not an excuse for inaction. Memento mori. Get over it.

Historical, societal and religious explanations for injustice are not good enough.
Just because some people benefit from situations, and some people will always benefit more than others, is also not good enough for inaction. For not caring. It is simply universalizing the problem. Empathy is always possible. As human beings, we exist and we feel.

Have confidence. Respect others. I think I can. Yes We Can.

No comments: