Who has not wanted, does not guess
What plenty is.–Who has not groped
In depths of doubt and hopelessness,
Has never truly hoped.–
Unless, sometimes, a shaow falls
Upon his mirth, and veils his sight,
And from the darkness drifts the light
Of love at intervals.

And that most dear of everything,
I hold, is love; and who can sit
With lightest heart and laugh and sing,
Knows not the worth of it.–
Unless, in some strange throng, perchance,
He feels how thrilling sweet it is,
One yearning look that answers his —
The troth of glance and glance.

Who knows not pain, knows not, alas!
What pleasure is.–Who knows not of
The bitter cup that will not pass,
Knows not the taste of love.
O souls that thirst, and hearts that fast,
And natures faint with famishing,
God lift and lead and safely bring
You to your own at last!

Analysis, meaning and summary of James Whitcomb Riley's poem Unless


  1. Courtney says:

    This poem I think is good
    I’d read 100 times if I could

  2. Craig L. Beeson says:

    I liked this poem because the story was touching.The poem was about this poor little girl that was very depressing.But it was interesting because she found a way to have hope.

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