Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1100 WordsOct 12, 20175 Pages
Megan Dixon Mr. Reed American Literature 13 October 2017 The Purpose and Mission of Life What is the meaning of life? Probably one of the biggest questions in human history, yet people still have not come up with one solid answer. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow expresses his beliefs of people’s purpose in life by writing about his own experiences and how he has allowed them to shape him and his writing. Through Longfellow’s poem A Psalm of Life, the emphasis on living life to the fullest is accentuated through his beliefs of being courageous and living life for the sake of doing, rather than for the sake of death. Courage means to have guts. This quality is one that is believed to be crucial in life to Longfellow. When he says, “to be a hero…show more content…
The author wants the audience to do something with the time they are given and to realize that life is more than just a blank slate waiting to be filled up. Another primary focus in this poem in the beginning is when Longfellow is setting the stage and mentions how he believes humans should end their life. “Not enjoyment, and not sorrow / Is our destin’d end or way,” was Longfellow’s way of communicating the thought that people are not striving to end life in happiness or in sorrow, but rather to end it having felt accomplished (9). These several lines that seem to be aimed toward the dead are really geared more towards the living than anybody. They are targeted towards those who are living, but not acting like it - so, someone who lazes around and neglects all responsibilities. Finally, in the line immediately preceding the one just stated, Longfellow mentions the harsh realities of life. “Life is real - life is earnest,” meaning that things are not always going to be okay and may seem like they are too difficult to handle, but, the whole purpose in life is to be able to rebound from these times. A Psalm of Life was published around 1838, and just three years before, Longfellow’s wife died due to miscarriage complications. By understanding that this poem was written as a form of therapy to the author in how he chose to handle a harsh situation, readers are able to specifically grasp the
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