The Bivouac Of Anima

A Psalm of Life: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Anima refers to the essence of life.  From Latin it’s the vital force, breath, spirit, etc.

In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s A Psalm of Life from 1838 the bard discusses the meaning of anima or life and the eventuality of death.

Vital force is the first principle, the causative force which gave breath to the dust of life.  For in the final analysis all life on this planet traversing the cosmos is cosmic dust, cosmic remains of the sonic utterances of creation.

Longfellow captures the ousia of what life is about on this earth.  He says in the bivouac of life be not like the cattle which just exist, but be a “hero”.

The bivouac of our mortal days has few real luxuries.  We dress, eat and reside in materials which will fade and crumble over the course of time on the cosmic scale of reality.

For Longfellow anima is real. Life on this globe of finiteness is meant to be lived.  Preoccupations with life’s eventuality, death, will come along in its due time.

Thrive would have been a good word for Longfellow.  His meaning is clear—just don’t live, thrive all your days of this sojourn on these terrestrial fields.

If we have lived well and kept thirsty for the cold springs of the untainted wells of artesian refreshing, then our footprints on the sands of time may be of solace to a fellow traveller who comes after us on the road of life.

As I have written before, our digital footprints will remain many lifetimes after we have closed our eyes in that dreamless sleep in the cosmic ocean.  For us who have departed the carousel of life, our lives will not have been just an empty dream.

They will be dream catchers.  Once our dream catcher is filled to overflowing like a Thanksgiving cornucopia, then those dreams, those digital footprints will enrich and nourish those after us.  The goat horn will still provide after the mortal struggle has found its terminus ad quem.

May your psalm of life be a joyous one.  Live well and thrive in the bivouac of anima.

The complete poem can be found at the links below.

G. D. Williams       © 2012

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