In Memoriam


The following is borrowed from The Poetry Foundation website.  The words have been put to music in the shape note tradition, one of the pieces we sing in Continua (verses 1, 2, and 7, which I’ve put in bold. I’ve also added quotes for clarity).  I wish I could add the melody for you, but this is all I can handle this week. I hope it brings you comfort.

Footprints on the sands of time. By H. Winthrop Peirce now in public domain.

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 tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

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.

9 Responses

  1. Carolyn
    | Reply

    Our thoughts are with the people in Las Vegas. Yet more sadness.

  2. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    Beautiful, Janet. Thank you.
    I was thinking of you this week because I read a novel called “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.” It’s about a small town in England at the start of WWII. Since the men are mostly gone, they form a “ladies’ choir.” It’s a very Masterpiece Theater sort of book–one to read with a cup of tea (in one of Marian’s tea cups). 🙂
    Merril Smith recently posted…Earth and Stars, Music: HaibunMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’m in the midst of my first Louise Penny mystery, a whole new genre for me. Your “Masterpiece Theatre” sort of book sounds like a great one to follow up with. Thanks for the suggestion. Keep your poems coming, dear friend. Such an important time for poetry.

  3. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Thank you, Janet.
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…Women and LeadershipMy Profile

  4. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Thanks, Janet, for this lovely and timely call to action.
    Tim Fearnside recently posted…The Other Men and Women Who Fought and Died for FreedomMy Profile

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