Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a commanding figure in the cultural life of nineteenth-century America. Born in Portland, Maine, in 1807, he became a national literary figure by the 1850s, and a world- famous personality by the time of his death in 1882.
He was a traveler, a linguist, and a romantic who identified with the great traditions of European literature and thought. At the same time, he was rooted in American life and history, which charged his imagination with untried themes and made him ambitious for success.
In A Psalm of Life, 1838, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote:
"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...
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."