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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who lived between 1807 and 1882, was the most popular American poet of the 19th Century and considered the first professional American poet. A Harvard professor, his reputation was world renown. In his poem, The Builders, he gives us some sage advice concerning the building of our character and our fate.

        All are architects of Fate,
        Working in these walls of Time;
        Some with massive deeds and great,
        Some with ornaments of rhyme.

        Nothing useless is, or low;
         Each thing in its place is best;
        And what seems but idle show
        Strengthens and supports the rest.

        For the structure that we raise,
        Time is with materials filled;
        Our todays and yesterdays
        Are the blocks with which we build.

        Truly shape and fashion these;
         Leave no yawning gaps between;
        Think not, because no man sees,
         Such things will remain unseen.

        In the elder days of Art,
        Builders wrought with greatest care
        Each minute and unseen part;
         For the gods see everywhere.

        Let us do our work as well,
        Both the unseen and the seen;
        Make the house where gods may dwell
        Beautiful, entire, and clean.

        Else our lives are incomplete,
         Standing in these walls of Time,
        Broken stairways, where the feet
        Stumble as they seek to climb.

        Build today, then, strong and sure
        With a firm and ample base;
        And ascending and secure
        Shall tomorrow find its place.

        Thus alone can we attain
        To those turrets where the eye
        Sees the world as one vast plain
        And one boundless reach of sky.

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