In the sixth stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem ‘A Psalm of Life’ the speaker describes the present time as ‘living present’. Why does he do so?
The present is described as the living present as it is said that we should bury the past as it has lost its utility and it has no value henceforth. It is also said that future is unpredictable thus we should not dream for the future and get carried away by the dreams and forget to live in the present. We should act in the present as it is when we are living and the way we act in our present moulds our future.
When the speaker of the poem, the young man, says “Act, — act in the living present!”, he wants to deliver a sense of urgency. He emphasizes his previous advice to trust no future and leave the past buried. He wants to make us realize the importance of the present time that we cannot afford to waste in the thought of past or hope and dream of future. The present time is ‘living’ in the sense that it is right in front of us. The word ‘living’ also delivers a sense of optimism and adds to the main motive of the poem to prove this life ‘real’.