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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.
Henry Van Dyke discusses the experience of living life to the fullest in the poem. It is often said that you only live once. But sometimes human beings are caught in the dilemma of achieving more success, and hence tend to ignore the most important aspect - Living. There is a difference between merely existing and living one's life. Existing just involves breathing, eating, and going about one's work without putting heart and soul in it. Living means that one moves and acts with extreme awareness and mindfulness. Living means pursuing the joy of the world and accepting the sorrows. Van Dyke says that he wants to live life from year to year, indicating that he wants to take life one thing at a time. Oftentimes we overwhelm ourselves thinking of what is going to happen in the future. Van Dyke knows that there is no use brooding over things that cannot be controlled. He says that he wants to take life by being in the moment. He does not want to think about the following year, rather wants first to live the current year.
One thing at a time
Van Dyke says that he would face life every year, with a forward face and unreluctant soul. This indicates that he believes that one must have the confidence and determination to face life, no matter what it throws at them. One must not be reluctant to test and experience the joys of life. He says that he is in no hurry to reach his goal, but at the same time is not distracted or moving away from his vision. It is important for us to know and determine our goals but not become overwhelmed or greedy in the process. In short, it is the journey that is more important than the destination. One must learn to stop and admire the beauty through the journey. He does not mourn the loss of the things that he has lost in the past. He calls the past dim, as with every passing new day, the past fades away, and one must fully participate in the present. There is no use crying over spoiled milk, and the lost things teach us life lessons. One must learn from loss but not be immersed in it.
There is no use mourning the dim past
Oftentimes, people do not take chances in life due to fear. When one takes a risk, there are only two possible outcomes. Either it can succeed, or it can fail. But the probability of failing makes people refrain from taking chances and makes them feel that it is better to stay in their comfort spaces. Dyke says that one must not hold back in fear of what the future holds for them. The future veils what it has in stock for each of us, but that is the entire essence of life, as it would be boring to know the future. The poet wants us to have a happy heart and live a life wholly, without worries, staying in the moment. He wants each individual to have a heart that embraces youth and old age equally and not get frustrated, as these are things beyond control. He wants people to travel the journey of life with cheer as life does not stop for anyone.
Words with difficult meaning:
Unreluctant Not having doubts in performing a task
MourningTo cry or to feel sadness
DimNot bright to see
VeilTo cover up something or hide
TollCompensation paid for using something
CheerTo make someone happy
DilemmaConfusion regarding a situation
OverwhelmStrong emotions about taking over
Refrain Stopping from doing a task
Mindfulness Being in the present, with awareness
State Council of Educational Research and Training 2019. Term 1 English Standard - 10. Life - Henry Van Dyke (pp. 17 -20). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.