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by William Cullen Bryant

Thanatopsis Sadness Quotes Page 2

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Quote #4

Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,  
Scourged to his dungeon (77-78)

Here’s the big uplifting moral at the end of a pretty sad poem.  We don’t actually have to be sad after all.  We don’t have to go under the ground like slaves being whipped into prison.  We can go happily, knowing that everything is going to be OK.  Now the poem doesn’t exactly say how things are going to work out.  It isn’t obviously religious or anything like that.  It’s just suggesting that maybe death isn’t as bad as we expected, and that we can "trust" (line 79) that we’ll be OK.  This ending wasn’t originally part of the poem, and it’s interesting to think about how the overall effect would change if we didn’t have this final, uplifting moment.

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