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Something Left Undone

Something Left Undone

I have been making my way through the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first through his shorter poems and eventually through his epics. One of his shorter works particularly resonated with me since it touched on a theme complementary to an article I wrote just last week. Friday’s article was titled “There Is Only Ever Today” and told of the importance of embracing each day’s duty. Longfellow’s “Something Left Undone” deals honestly with the reality that some things will always remain undone and that these incomplete tasks eventually become part of the burden we carry through life. I trust you’ll enjoy it as I did.

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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