Keywords: psalm of life analysis, psalm of life poem
This poem dramatizes the conflict between your truth of life lived in as soon as and the neglect of the soul when a person focuses on things beyond his control: namely the past and the near future. There are several themes expressed by the poet through this work: freedom, happiness, perseverance, truth, futility, spirituality and success. In the title one might say that the theme is simply to seize your day: Carpe Diem (Harmon, 2009, 87). The poem’s form is that of the lyric (324)and the poet encourages the reader to work with their imagination. The term choices and placement within its’ stanza evoke both a melody and emotion. There are nine stanzas that define the composition and each support the qualities of the quatrain [consist of four lines in which lines two and four must rhyme while having the same quantity of syllables (452)]. Psalm of Life also carries the traits of the dramatic monologue for the reason that the narrator of the work is the poet himself (177).
In stanza one, line one the poet assigns the description of “mournful” to the thought of numbers. This word was chosen to recognize the audience: those who apparently go through life as if this can be a chore. The word mournful frames the feeling as if something was lost and captures the grief produced by that loss. “Life is but a clear dream!” states why there are so many sorrowful within the audience: when there is no aim greater than what one can gather on the earth then life itself has no purpose. The poet reveals his motivation in lines three through four of the first stanza: “For the soul is dead that slumbers/And things aren’t what they seem”. Living life in a rut or for material reasons is the killer of the soul. The soul found unawares, which is what’s implied by the term use of “slumbers”, is most vulnerable to eternal death. Line four tells the audience that they must look beyond the top of world as well as beyond themselves. “Life is real! Life is earnest!” conveys an earnestness and a little of desperation. An emphatic proclamation made in a way of your Southern Baptist preacher pleading with those in relation to destruction to turn to the life of the soul. “Along with the grave is not its goal” underlines the theory that life is something to be actively engaged in rather than only a journey to death. “Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest, ” is referencing Genesis 3:19 and appears to throw this plea for life into a light which could speak to the religious up-bringing of his audience. The poet makes a very important distinction in the next line, “Was not spoken of the soul”. The creation of man is entirely unique from the others of life on the planet earth because “. . . the Lord God formed man of the dust of the bottom and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a full time income soul(Genesis 3:19)”. Both of these lines bring into the poet’s supplication the backing of scripture.
Stanza four brings forward the very thought of futility: “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”. It is as though the poet wants to remind his audience that every moment, every heartbeat is bringing them closer to the inevitable end one’s life-time. This further underlines the idea of seizing the day. In using the word fleeting the poet attempts to get across that point will just continue on without regard for the individual- no matter how brave and firm the guts might be. The poet is again underlining that life today is all one really has when faced with the flow of time. Stanza five, line 18 introduces a word that is unfamiliar in the current way of life: bivouac. This word defined in Merriam-Webster as “a temporary or casual shelter or lodging” and alone holds the idea of the entire poem which is that this life is temporary. This stanza evokes urgency through the use of the exclamation point. The poet is telling his audience to be the hero of their own battles rather than a pawn in the battle of another with what “Be not like the dumb, driven cattle!/ Be considered a hero in the strife!”. Stanza six addresses the two possible positions of the audience and bring to them some very specific supplications: for many who are living for tomorrow the poet says, “Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!” and for many who would lament days gone by, “Let the dead Past bury its dead!”. The poet does not leave the audience wondering what their response should be but plainly states, “Act, – act in the living present! Heart within, and God o’erhead!”
People can make what they’ll of their own lives and can follow the exemplory case of the great men that came before them, “Lives of great men all remind us/We can make our lives sublime, “. There is absolutely no secret that separates those who find themselves great from those that go through life without leaving an impression. It seems as if the poet is saying that those who are considered great took good thing about the opportunities of their present. It is those individuals who “. . . departing, leave behind us/Footprints on the sand of your energy” who provide encouragement not and then their generation, but also for those in the generations to come “Footprints, that perhaps another, /Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, /A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, /Seeing shall take heart again”.
The final stanza brings a soft point to the compelling argument of the prior eight. It really is as though the poet it taking the hand of the audience: to pull them gently from the bed of the complacency. The handheld out demonstrates walking along the road of today will not mean a journey travelled alone, “Let us then be up and doing, /With a heart for just about any fate;/Still achieving, still pursuing, / Figure out how to labor and wait. ” The poet takes the hand of the reader now as he did during his own time and seems to say to each individual: Why don’t we progress together.