Get here the notes, questions, answers, textbook solutions, summary, extras, and PDF of BSEM or BoSEM (Manipur Board) Class 10 Additional English poem (Chapter 5) “A Psalm of Life” by H.W. Longfellow. However, the provided notes should only be treated as references, and the students are encouraged to make changes to them as they feel appropriate.
Poet H.W. Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life” is a dramatic monologue delivered by a young man’s heart to a Biblical psalmist. The speaker begs the psalmist to stop singing sad songs about how meaningless and unreal life is. In the view of the speaker, the soul that merely observes life is already dead. Also, contrary to common Christian belief, this life is not merely a prelude to the next (eternal) one in the afterlife.
The speaker insists that reality and the significance of life are not illusions. According to the narrator, life is passionate and genuine. Simply avoiding death is not the point of living. The Christian adage “dust to dust” refers only to the physical body and not the soul, so the latter should be as vibrant as possible in life. Humanity’s destiny or goal should not be self-indulgence or misery. Humans, the speaker argues, should instead take action that gradually advances society.
Creativity lasts forever, both in deed and in the objects we make, but time moves swiftly. Even though human hearts are strong and courageous, their rhythms are muted within their bodies. Their ultimate purpose is to hasten the end of human life with each and every beat. In turn, the music these hearts create sounds a lot like funeral marches.
The world, the speaker continues, is like a vast battlefield. He continues, “Life is like a makeshift camp with no permanent shelter.” Don’t be mindless cattle that just follow wherever they’re told, the speaker implores. Instead, play the hero role despite life’s challenges. The advice of the speaker is to not put any faith in the future, regardless of how promising it may appear. Also, try not to live in the past. Instead, the speaker recommends that listeners live fully in the moment, as though being watched by an appreciative God.
The examples of godly and spiritual lives set by great men encourage and motivate us to follow their lead. Furthermore, the speaker continues, these people will leave remnants of their lives when they pass away.
These relics of godly and spiritual lives have the potential to motivate others as they make their own way across the vast sea of life. The other people in this vast sea may feel miserable, forsaken, and disoriented. They will be inspired and saved, though, if they see godly and spiritual people living their lives.
The speaker concludes by urging the entire human race to seize the moment. In addition, they should not hold back and instead embrace each moment. In the process of developing new skills and expanding knowledge, humans acquire the virtues of perseverance and tolerance through trial and error.
Answer the following questions in one phrase or sentence each:
1. What is a Psalm?
Answer: Psalms are sacred religious songs or hymns.
2. What does the poet say of our life?
Answer: According to the poet, life is serious and real. The aim of life is not death or the grave.
3. What is our destined end in life?
Answer: Our purpose in life is to make wise decisions and build a bright future. Both joy and sorrow are not the end or the goal of life.
4. What do you mean by ‘the bivouac of life’?
Answer: The temporary shelter during a person’s journey on earth is referred to as “the bivouac of life.”
5. ‘Act, -act is the living present!’ Explain the line.
Answer: It implies that in order to accomplish our objectives, we must act bravely and actively today. We should put the past behind us and stop stressing about the future.
6. “Dust thou art, to dust returnest”. Explain.
Answer: It implies that because the human body is made of dust, it will decompose into dust after death. It does not apply to the soul; only the body.
7. Give the last message of the poem.
Answer: The poem’s final message is that we shouldn’t squander our priceless present moments by doing nothing but sitting around, but rather that we should work diligently to achieve our goals so that others can follow in this never-ending struggle of life.
Answer the following questions in about 25-30 words each:
1. What is the attitude of a young man to life?
Answer: Young men have the mentality that life is not just a dream that will never come true. It is sincere and genuine, and it does not view death as life’s ultimate destination.
2. How should we behave in a broad battlefield of life?
Answer: We should conduct ourselves like heroes on a large battlefield. We shouldn’t act like mindless, aimlessly wandering cattle being led by others.
3. How can we make our lives sublime?
Answer: We can make our lives sublime by leaving a lasting legacy, such as noble deeds, through our actions. Others can follow in our footsteps in this way. ,
4. What did Longfellow affirm in the poem “A Psalm of Life”?
Answer: In the poem, Longfellow affirmed that life was not a hollow fantasy because it is real and sincere. He did not consider death to be life’s ultimate goal. We need to live fully in the present, let go of the past, and have no faith in the future. To leave a lasting impression on people, we should do something extraordinary.
5. What does the poet wish us to do in the battle of life?
Answer: The poet exhorts us to not worry about the results of the struggle of life. We must learn to toil diligently, to act wisely, and to patiently wait for the benefits.
Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.
a) Give/write the theme of the poem.
Answer: A positive outlook on life is the primary theme of the poem “A Psalm of Life.” Life is not a vain fantasy. It is fairly genuine. The poet believes that this life is valuable. We shouldn’t throw it away. Instead, we should make the most of this life to leave a lasting impression on others. The speaker also suggests living in the present and not dwelling on the past or worrying excessively about the future. The idea of death should not demotivate us. Instead, we should live intentionally, put forth significant effort today, and patiently await our reward.
b) Give the central idea of the poem.
Answer: The poem’s main point is that it teaches a profound moral lesson. He asserts that we should take life seriously because it is reality. Life is like a battlefield, full of conflict and challenges. We should bravely face it. We need to be persistent and diligent if we want to achieve our goals in life. As we move forward, we must actively forget the past and have no faith in the future. One’s life will be made sublime by the lessons learned from the lives of great men, and we can leave our marks in the sands of time so that others can follow in our footsteps.
c) How does the poem appeal to you?
Answer: We are drawn to the poem “A Psalm of life” by its clarity, directness, optimism, faith in God, hard work, and patience. The poem’s message is to find a purpose in life, live it to the fullest, and leave a lasting legacy for future generations. The purpose of “A Psalm of Life” is to inspire us to live our lives, however brief they may be, in pursuit of meaningful, compassionate deeds that will improve the lives of both the present and future generations. This poem is very inspiring and instructive. Actually, it is a sacred song of life. The four lined stanzas’ (abab) rhyme pattern is well-organized and quite appealing. It enhances the poem’s beauty. When life is described as a struggle, the metaphors employed are truly astounding.
d) Give an estimate of the poem as a hymn.
Answer: A hymn is a piece of literature or music that praises God. The poem’s title, “The Psalm of Life” is extremely aptly named. It is a sacred song of life or a lyrical poem about life. It is a young man’s psalm-like response. He reacts to biblical teachings that describe life as a hollow dream. We can therefore interpret it as a psalm in response to another psalm. The young man rejects the idea that life is merely a dream. For him, death is not the end of life; life itself is the goal. One should act like a hero in the struggle and conflict of life because life is like a battlefield. This is amply demonstrated by the poet’s advice to live courageously in the present while having faith in God. As a result, it is entirely appropriate to refer to this poem as a hymn poem.
e) Give reasons for your liking\disliking the poem.
Answer: Yes, I genuinely enjoy this poem. This poem has a profoundly important message. We should keep striving to accomplish our objectives, practise hard work, and work for the rewards. Simple yet elegant in both tone and style. Both the theme of the poem and the way the words and phrases flow naturally make for an engaging reading experience. From an upbeat point of view, the poet depicts life. This poem is incredibly uplifting and motivating. It conveys his message that we shouldn’t waste our priceless moments sitting around aimlessly, but rather that we should work hard to accomplish our objectives. The values expressed as such in the poem are optimism, self-confidence, faith in God, hard work, and patience.
Give the meaning of the extract with comments:
a) “Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;”
Answer: The poet claims in this stanza that the lives of great and prosperous men serve as a reminder to us that, with enough desire and perseverance, we, too, can reach those heights. And if we can accomplish that, people will always remember us. He makes the analogy between immortality and leaving traces in the sands of time. Although we won’t live forever, we can leave our mark on the endless flow of time by doing good deeds so that future generations can follow in our footsteps. It is accurate to refer to this as the psalm of life.
b) Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.
Answer: The poem ends with this stanza. In this passage, the poet urges us to jump out of bed and get to work right away. However, he encourages us to make our minds ready for any fate and to not worry about the consequences. We have to keep going, pushing ourselves to the limit but not giving up. We need to hone the skills of toil: putting in long hours at the office, making prudent decisions, and patiently waiting for our efforts to pay off.
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