Nov 30, 2016

Something Left Undone

Or, On Holding the Sky On One’s Shoulders

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



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Editorial Note:

The following poem is
reproduced from “The Works of Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow”, The Wordsworth
Poetry Library, U.K., 1994, 886 pp., p. 320.

From one day to another, as from one lifetime
to the next, there is a sense of incompleteness
about life, and this is why evolution goes on. No
cycle is complete in itself. Every round leaves
things and tasks undone, and errors to be corrected.

(Carlos Cardoso Aveline)

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Labor with what zeal we will,
  Something still remains undone,
Something uncompleted still
  Waits the rising of the sun.

By the bedside, on the stair,
  At the threshold, near the gates,
With its menace or its prayer,
  Like a mendicant it waits;

Waits, and will not go away;
  Waits, and will not be gainsaid;
By the cares of yesterday
  Each to-day is heavier made;

Till at length the burden seems
  Greater than our strength can bear,
Heavy as the weight of dreams,
  Pressing on us everywhere.

And we stand from day to day,
  Like the dwarfs of times gone by,
Who, as Northern legends say,
  On their shoulders held the sky.


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Henry W.  Longfellow was born on 27 February 1807 and lived until 24 March 1882.

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