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Life and Dream

By meglee1026 Nov 12, 2013 983 Words
Life: Real or a Dream?

Today, man seems to live life in such a nonchalant way. Most of a man’s life is spent doing duties, performing tasks, and living day to day; but surely there must be more to life. Why do we do these things? Why are we here on earth? What is life? What is the purpose of life? Is life real? Is life a dream? The answers to these questions are answered many different ways by many different people. Some believe that life is to prepare for eternal life in Heaven. Some believe that when a person dies, their life is over and that’s all there is to it. Some believe our life on earth is to be prosperous. Some believe man just exists to exist and there is no meaning to life. “A Psalm of Life” and “A Dream within a Dream” are two poems that focus on life from two different perspectives. “A Psalm of Life,” by Longfellow, views life as real and short; however, “A Dream within a Dream,” by Poe, views life as a dream. Longfellow immediately proposes his view of life in the first stanza by saying, “Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream! For the soul is dead who sleeps and slumbers, and things are not what they seem,” (Longfellow, “A Psalm of Life,” 66). Longfellow refuses to believe that life is just a dream. He starts the poem off by stating that he doesn’t agree with those who think that life is just time spent on earth. He proposes that there is more to life than what we see and think. His theme that life is real and short is evident throughout the whole poem. Poe writes “A Dream within a Dream” at the end of his life. He proposes that life is only a dream by stating, “You are not wrong, who deem that my days have been a dream;” (Poe, “A Dream within a Dream,” 85). Poe believed that life is a dream, that the time we spend on earth is all there is, and that there is nothing after death. Throughout the poem he relays a sense of hopelessness; however, he seems to be on a quest for answers. This is evident through the many questions that he asks in the poem. The statements from each poem show the view and belief of life from each author. Longfellow views life as real and short; and Poe views life as solely a dream. “A Psalm of Life” views life from the perspective of a believer in God; however, “A Dream within a Dream” views life from the perspective of an unbeliever. Throughout his poem, Longfellow shows that he views life from a believer’s standpoint. He show this by stating, “Act, - act in the living present! Heart within, and God o’erhead!” (66). Through this statement, we see that he believe that God is watching us from Heaven above and we are act in a way that pleases Him. Poe views life from an unbeliever’s standpoint. He states, “And I hold within my hand grains of the golden sand – How few! Yet how they creep through my fingers to the deep… O God! can I not save one from the pitiless wave?” (85). This statement shows Poe’s sense of hopelessness in his unbelief. He feels as though his life has been wasted and he is trying to cling on to what he has; however, it is worthless and he can’t hang on. He is miserable and searching for answers. Both poems view life from different standpoints – belief or unbelief. In “A Psalm of Life,” Longfellow is sure about his view of life and makes declarative statements supporting his view; however in “A Dream within a Dream,” Poe ends his poem questioning the reality of life, suggesting that he isn’t sure about his view. Longfellow ends his poem by charging the reader with this statement, “Let us, then, be up and doing, with a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait,” (66). This is statement tells the reader how he should be living his life. Not once in his poem does he lead the reader to believe that he questions his view of life or what man is to do; but he makes declarative, charging statements that show his confidence in his belief. All of his sentences end with a period or an exclamation point which also points to the surety of his belief. Poe ends his poem with this statement, “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?” (85). This closing statement shows that Poe is not sure about his belief. All through the poem he is asking questions showing the doubt in his belief and the reality of life. These statements show the two author’s surety and the doubtfulness in their different views of life. “A Psalm of Life” by Longfellow and “A Dream within a Dream” are two opposite poems showing two different views of life. Longfellow views life as a believer. He believes that life is real; and because of the shortness of life, we should make the most of each day and ultimately bring glory to God through what we do. Poe views life as an unbeliever. He is believes that life is a dream and that there is nothing after death. He is hopeless and searching for answers at the end of his life. As Christians, we know that there is more to life than what is on earth. We know that life is not a dream. We are to live each day bringing glory to God and waiting for the day when the Lord calls us home to Heaven to live with Him for eternity. Our hope and meaning for life is found in Christ.

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