‘Something Left Undone’ a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As the Labor Day weekend begins, we are all probably leaving some work undone. Our Monday intentions were the best, to run through a list and finish them all by week’s end. But interruptions, distractions, and previously unscheduled meetings diverted us from the task.

The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow captures the feeling of the accumulating burden in this weeks’ Friday poem, Something Left Undone.

Something Left Undone

Labor with what zeal we will,
Something still remains undone,
Something uncompleted still
Waits the rising of the sun.
By the bedside, on the stair,
At the threshold, near the gates,
With its menace or its prayer,
Like a mendicant it waits;
Waits, and will not go away;
Waits, and will not be gainsaid;
By the cares of yesterday
Each to-day is heavier made;
Till at length the burden seems
Greater than our strength can bear,
Heavy as the weight of dreams,
Pressing on us everywhere.
And we stand from day to day,
Like the dwarfs of times gone by,
Who, as Northern legends say,
On their shoulders held the sky.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Birds of Passage 1863