Pursuit for the Meaning of Life

Essay by rain0535College, Undergraduate December 2006

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

It is interesting to notice the fact that both Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Robert Frost are considered the most famous poets of their times, the 19th century and the 20th century, which makes the comparison and contrast of their masterpieces meaningful -it opens a window for us to see how people's tastes changed over centuries . The poems" A Psalm of Life" by Longfellow and "After Apple-Picking" by Frost both deal with one subject--"the meaning of life" and yet they differ in the totally optimistic and ambiguous attitudes towards life; in their traditional and irregular forms and many more.

An easy access to a poem is to know what is about first. From the title "A Psalm of Life" and the repetition of the word "life" over and over again, Longfellow makes his topic obvious. He, as the "young man", tells the reader what he thinks the meaning of life, that is, to make the most of each day, and only action can make us possess our own meaning.

In "After Apple-Picking", the speaker is tired of apple picking after a long day's work and feels sleepy. The labor leaves the speaker with a sense of completion and fulfillment. And as the sleep coming on, the speaker begins to wonder whether it is normal one or something deeper. When reading this poem metaphorically, one can find that this poem is also about life, but something more complex and perplexed.

However, there are many differences between these two poems. The tone of the first poem is optimistic and the theme is obvious, it is more like an encouragement. Whereas the theme of the second is ambiguous and uncertain,

It is more like the author raises a series of questions--larger ones concerning life--but never answers and leaves the readers...