Wise men in their bad hours have envied
The little people making merry like grasshoppers
In spots of sunlight, hardly thinking
Backward but never forward, and if they somehow
Take hold upon the future they do it
Half asleep, with the tools of generation
Foolishly reduplicating
Folly in thirty-year periods; the eat and laugh too,
Groan against labors, wars and partings,
Dance, talk, dress and undress; wise men have pretended
The summer insects enviable;
One must indulge the wise in moments of mockery.
Strength and desire possess the future,
The breed of the grasshopper shrills, “What does the future
Matter, we shall be dead?” Ah, grasshoppers,
Death’s a fierce meadowlark: but to die having made
Something more equal to the centuries
Than muscle and bone, is mostly to shed weakness.
The mountains are dead stone, the people
Admire or hate their stature, their insolent quietness,
The mountains are not softened nor troubled
And a few dead men’s thoughts have the same temper.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robinson Jeffers's poem Wise Men In Their Bad Hours


  1. Mike Leitner says:

    This is the poem Chris McCandless wove into his final few writings…and now the bus flies on!

  2. Tara says:

    I have just begun reading poetry.
    Reading this poem a few times I have come to the conclusion it’s about death. People who merely live because they have nothing better to do, how they don’t care about the past nor the future. They live in the present with no thought about it, they live to be and look to other people to guide. To me it also says how in death we are all equal.

    • Mphakamiseni Zungu says:

      Hey Tara i like ur interpretation of this poem,.. do you mind if I ask to follow you on instagrame, ..seem like I have a lot to learn from you

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