Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Days among the Dead are Past - Robert Southey

My days among the Dead are past;
Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
The mighty minds of old;
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.

With them I take delight in weal,
And seek relief in woe;
And while I understand and feel
How much to them I owe,
My cheeks have often been bedew'd
With tears of thoughtful gratitude.

My thoughts are with the Dead, with them
I live in long-past years,
Their virtues love, their faults condemn,
Partake their hopes and fears,
And from their lessons seek and find
Instruction with an humble mind.

My hopes are with the Dead, anon
My place with them will be,
And I with them shall travel on
Through all Futurity;
Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust.

Rest assured, Robert Southey, your name has not perished in the dust, and with the Dead now, I too converse.  The Dead are all around us, their relics being those things they made from which we benefit today.  Southey was so moved by this longevity that he'd shed tears of gratitude, according to the second stanza.  What this poem is concerned with is the immortality of those who create, and how we can learn from it.  It's a simple poem, though effective, and I'm sure we've all felt immensely grateful to the great minds of the past.


  1. I wonder how Southey would feel on learning that his most enduring bequest to history would be as the creator of the story of Goldilocks?

    1. Somehow I don't think he'd be too upset. I actually first knew of him as a Romantic poet, and didn't make the Goldilocks connection until later. When I was a child, I never thought to ask who first wrote that story.