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Life

Let me but live my life from year to year,

With forward face and unreluctant soul;

Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal;

Not mourning for the things that disappear

In the dim past, nor holding back in fear

From what the future veils; but with a whole

And happy heart, that pays its toll

To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.

So let the way wind up the hill or down,

O'er rough or smooth, the journey will be joy:

Still seeking what I sought when but a boy,

New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,

My heart will keep the courage of the quest,

And hope the road's last turn will be the best.


About the Poet

Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933) was an American author, poet, educator, and clergyman. He served as a professor of English literature at Princeton University between 1899 and 1923. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received many other honours.


Glossary

mourning (v) - feeling or expressing great sadness

veils (v) - to hide or cover something so that you cannot see it clearly or understand it

crown (n) - a prize or position offered for being the best

quest (n) - a long search for something that is difficult to find

unreluctant* (adj.) - willing to do something (*This form is generally not used but the poet has coined it for emphasis)


Sonnet:

The word sonnet is derived from the Italian word “sonetto,” which means a ‘little song’ or ‘small lyric’. In poetry, a sonnet has 14 lines, and is written in 'iambic pentameter' (A line with ten syllables, accented on every second beat). The first eight lines of a sonnet is known as “octave” and the last six lines is known as “sestet”. Sonnets can be categorized on the basis of their rhyme scheme.


Read the following lines from the poem and answer the questions that follows.

1. Let me but live my life from year to year,

With forward face and unreluctant soul;


a. Whom does the word ‘me’ refer to?

Ans: ‘Me’ refers to the poet.


b. What kind of life does the poet want to lead?

Ans: The poet wants to lead a life facing every year with courage and willingness to do anything.


2. Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal;

Not mourning for the things that disappear


a. Why do you think the poet is not in a hurry?

Ans: The poet wishes to live the present life without any hurry.


b. What should one not mourn for?

Ans: One should not mourn for the things that disappear.


3. In the dim past, nor holding back in fear

From what the future veils; but with a whole

And happy heart, that pays its toll

To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.


a. What does the poet mean by the phrase ‘in the dim past’?

Ans: The poet means that, there is a time in the past that is not remembered clearly.


b. Is the poet afraid of future?

Ans: No, the poet is not afraid of the future.


c. How can one travel on with cheer?

Ans: One can travel on with cheer with a full heart without considering the past and future.


4. So let the way wind up the hill or down,

O'er rough or smooth, the journey will be joy:

Still seeking what I sought when but a boy,

New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,


a. How is the way of life?

Ans: The way of life will be up and down and also rough and smooth.


b. How should be the journey of life?

Ans: The journey of life should be joyful


c. What did the poet seek as a boy?

Ans: The poet sought new friendship, high adventure and a crown as a boy.


5. My heart will keep the courage of the quest,

And hope the road's last turn will be the best.


a. What kind of quest does the poet seek here?

Ans: The quest sought here by the poet is a courageous heart.


b. What is the poet’s hope?

Ans: The poet hopes that the end journey in life will be best.


6. In the dim past, nor holding back in fear

From what the future veils; but with a whole

And happy heart, that pays its toll

To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.


a. Identify the rhyming words of the given lines.

Ans: The rhyming words are – fear, whole, toll, cheer. The rhyming scheme is ‘abba’.


7. Let me but live my life from year to year,

With forward face and unreluctant soul;

Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal;

Not mourning for the things that disappear


a. Identify the rhyme scheme of the given lines.

Ans: The rhyming words are – year, soul, goal, disappear. The rhyming scheme is ‘abba’.


Based on your understanding of the poem, complete the following passage by the using the phrases given in the box.


youth to old age  

up or down the hill

to hurry nor move away  

high adventure

joyful   

mourn   

looking ahead


The poet wants to live his life looking ahead, willing to do something. He neither wants to hurry nor move away from his goal. He does not want to mourn the things he has lost, not hold back for fear of the future. He instead prefers to live his life with a whole and happy heart which cheerfully travels from youth to old age. Therefore, it does not matter to him whether the path goes up or down the hill, rough or smooth, the journey will be joyful. He will continue to seek what he wanted as a boy - new friendship, high adventure and a crown (prize). His heart will remain courageous and pursue his desires. He hopes that every turn in his life's journey will be the best.

 

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