The Big Read Blog (Archive)

What Page Are You On?

February 14, 2009
Washington, DC

As we head into President's Day, it's a good time to reflect how often during our nation's history, our leaders have called us to action -- whether it was FDR rallying us through the Great Depression and World War II or Lyndon Johnson urging us to guarantee civil rights for all Americans regardless of race, or the newest White House resident, President Obama who reiterates in every speech that change can't take place without action. That call to action is a rallying cry that's been taken up by many a Big Read writer, including New England poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Here, on a day when we think about the "lives of great men," are the last three stanzas of Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life," which I urge you to look up and enjoy in its entirety.

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our live sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Foortprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing;
Learn to labor and to wait.