Hast thou named all the birds without a gun;
Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk;
At rich men’s tables eaten bread and pulse;
Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust;
And loved so well a high behavior
In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained,
Nobility more nobly to repay?-
O be my friend, and teach me to be thine!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem Forbearance


  1. Kenneth Lundeen says:

    The poem is about self-control; especially self-restraint. You CAN shoot the birds, pick the flowers, eat all the expensive dishes, and flatter people. The point of the poem is that there is nobility in restraining oneself from such impulses. If you did not expect excellent conduct from someone, you would certainly praise such. The lesson here is that if behavior above and beyond the norm is expected, you would not feel a need to highlight it by praise, thus complimenting the doer by refraining. (I personally feel that sincere praise should be given when deserved, since it is quite rare nowadays!)

  2. bridget says:

    actually, you just don’t know how to spell forbearance.


    i believe this poem is about admitting we are not perfect.

  3. josh says:

    it was ok but its not easy to folow

  4. Jonny says:

    Very nice! One thing, though: You’ve spelled “forbearance” incorrectly.

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