On the Art of Living a Peaceful Life
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There is a mantramic effect in good
poetry, and this expands the potential
importance of philosophical poems for
those who search for universal wisdom.
The following poems are reproduced
from “The Works of Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow”, The Wordsworth Poetry
Library, U.K., 1994, 886 pp., pp. 782-783.
“Loss and Gain” is published along with other
“Personal Poems”. “A Quiet Life” is a translation
from the French, with no indication as to its author.
Both poems transmit Stoic lessons on how to live.
(Carlos Cardoso Aveline)
1. Loss and Gain
When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.
I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.
But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.
2. A Quiet Life
Let him who will, by force or fraud innate,
Of courtly grandeurs gain the slippery height;
I, leaving not the home of my delight,
Far from the world and noise will meditate.
Then, without pomps or perils of the great,
I shall behold the day succeed the night;
Behold the alternate seasons take their flight,
And in serene repose old age await.
And so, whenever Death shall come to close
The happy moments that my days compose,
I, full of years, shall die, obscure, alone!
How wretched is the man, with honors crowned,
Who, having not the one thing needful found,
Dies, known to all, but to himself unknown.