Yet not to thine eternal resting-place Shalt thou retire alone (31-32)
If there’s one take-away idea from this poem, one central image, we think this is probably it. The earth is full of dead people, tons and tons and tons of them. Even when we die, we aren’t really alone, because we’ve got all those other dead folks to keep us company. This might seem like a pretty simple idea, but this poem works really hard to make sure we think about it. The speaker repeats this same point in a bunch of different ways, giving us a whole string of different images to help make it clear.
And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them down In their last sleep (55-57)
Here’s another way of saying "the earth is full of dead people." Actually, that would be a really good subtitle for this poem: "Thanatopsis, or, the Earth is Full of Dead People" by William Cullen Bryant. OK, maybe it doesn’t have the same ring. Still, that’s the whole point. People have been dying since the beginning of time, and there are millions (that’s right, millions) of them in the ground already. So, no need to be lonely when you die. Feel better?