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Title: "What Is Life?" Poem by Edmund D. Covington, March 1844; The North Carolina University Magazine 1 (March 1844): 37-38: Electronic Edition.
Author: Covington, Edmund DeBerry, 1823-1845
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Risa Mulligan
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 9K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2005
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-05-23, Risa Mulligan finished TEI/XML encoding
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Source(s):
Title of article: "What Is Life?" Poem by Edmund D. Covington, March 1844
Title of serial: The North Carolina University Magazine 1 (March 1844): 37-38
Author: Edmund DeBerry Covington
Description: 2 pages, 2 page images
Note: Call number VC378 UQm 1844 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Examples of Student Writing/Fiction, Poetry, Character Sketches
Religion and Philosophy/Christianity and Christian Theology
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Originals are in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
DocSouth staff created a 600 dpi uncompressed TIFF file for each image. The TIFF images were then saved as JPEG images at 100 dpi for web access.
Page images can be viewed and compared in parallel with the text.
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as '.
All em dashes are encoded as —
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Covington's poem rejects several definitions of life to accept one based on a spirit of love and gratitude for life's blessings, including the hope of Heaven.
"What Is Life?" Poem by Edmund D. Covington , March 1844; The North Carolina University Magazine 1 (March 1844): 37-381
Covington, Edmund DeBerry, 1823-1845



Page 37
WHAT IS LIFE?
Is it life to see the hours
Of youth's gay spring unheeded fly,
To droop in sadness, as the flowers,
We nurtured early, fade and die?
Is it life to feel the glow
Of love warm springing in our breast,
Chilled in its currents, as they flow,
The moment when we felt most blest?
To feel that childhood's joys are past,
That sorrowing age is stealing on,
No hope to cheer our heart at last
When all except our cares are gone.
No scene, no light of other days,
Of early joys remote from strife,
By which through memory to gaze
On youth awhile,—this is not life.

Page 38
To feel a spirit in us move,
Some kindred tie with man to own,
To know that there are those who love,
And smile on us when others frown.
To feel that youth was not unblest,
Nor manhood bowed with hopeless grief,
When age shall find our souls at rest
In hopes of Heaven. This—This is life.

Endnotes:

1. The North Carolina University Magazine 1 ( March 1844): 37-38, NCC. Covington's poem was drafted on page 16 of his journal. An entry dated January 23, 1843, explains: "wrote some poetry tonight—a little piece entitled—'What is life?—but I dont know that my muse solved the question!" (Edmund De Berry Covington Papers, SHC). The poem as it appeared in The North Carolina University Magazine serves as copy-text.