As we the withered ferns
By the roadway lying,
Time, the jester, spurns
All our prayers and prying —
All our tears and sighing,
Sorrow, change, and woe —
All our where-and-whying
For friends that come and go.

Life awakes and burns,
Age and death defying,
Till at last it learns
All but Love is dying;
Love’s the trade we’re plying,
God has willed it so;
Shrouds are what we’re buying
For friends that come and go.

Man forever yearns
For the thing that’s flying.
Everywhere he turns,
Men to dust are drying, —
Dust that wanders, eying
(With eyes that hardly glow)
New faces, dimly spying
For friends that come and go.


And thus we all are nighing
The truth we fear to know:
Death will end our crying
For friends that come and go.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem Ballad of Dead Friends


  1. pitam says:

    love the poem a lot n got sad seeing the life n its greediness of human being which makes love die.

  2. katie says:

    the beautiful words of a great poet. wonderful to the last as he uses ways to create images and sadness in your heart.

  3. mariah says:

    i love the poem it is very touching…it reminds me of my friend russell i lost last year in february at the age of 14,this poem made me cry and think about the good times… thank you

  4. Jordan says:

    I recently lost a friend. He didn’t die, but our friendship died. This poem really explians how I felt.

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