"The weak lose themselves in God; the strong discover Him in themselves." ~ Allama Iqbal

Friday, April 20, 2012

Iqbal's Definition of Art & The Builders (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Included in "Discourses of Iqbal" is an article in which Iqbal writes:

"The ultimate end of of all human activity is Life-glorious, powerful, exuberant.  All human art must be subordinated to this final purpose and the value of everything must be determined in reference to its life-yielding capacity.  The highest art is that which awakens our dormant will-force, and nerves us to face the trials of life manfully."

Different poets may speak, with varying degrees of intensity, in the direction of that which Iqbal so directly points.  To me, the poem below, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, points in this direction. 

The Builders

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 to-days 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 to-day, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall to-morrow 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.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


  1. Robert,
    Thank you very much for this post.Allama Iqbal and Longfellow together is a combination which makes humanity proud to know that they had come before us to let us learn that whatever positive thing we do,big or small it contributes to our well-being.
    Kudos to you for your post.

    1. Greetings,

      Thank you for visiting here.

      I very much like how you've worded the value of positive acts.

      All good wishes,