Poem Hunter
Not Understood
(21 December 1843 – 16 February 1898 / Clones, County Monaghan)

Not Understood

Not understood, we move along asunder;
Our paths grow wider as the seasons creep
Along the years; we marvel and we wonder
Why life is life, and then we fall asleep
Not understood.

Not understood, we gather false impressions
And hug them closer as the years go by;
Till virtues often seem to us transgressions;
And thus men rise and fall, and live and die
Not understood.

Not understood! Poor souls with stunted vision
Oft measure giants with their narrow gauge;
The poisoned shafts of falsehood and derision
Are oft impelled 'gainst those who mould the age,
Not understood.

Not understood! The secret springs of action
Which lie beneath the surface and the show,
Are disregarded; with self-satisfaction
We judge our neighbours, and they often go
Not understood.

Not understood! How trifles often change us!
The thoughtless sentence and the fancied slight
Destroy long years of friendship, and estrange us,
And on our souls there falls a freezing blight;
Not understood.

Not understood! How many breasts are aching
For lack of sympathy! Ah! day by day
How many cheerless, lonely hearts are breaking!
How many noble spirits pass away,
Not understood.

O God! that men would see a little clearer,
Or judge less harshly where they cannot see!
O God! that men would draw a little nearer
To one another, -- they'd be nearer Thee,
And understood.

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Comments (5)

This is such a thoughtful and meaningful poem, sometimes uplifting and sometimes almost depressing. Reading about Thomas Bracken's life helps gives an insight into what he may have been thinking. He died in his late 50's and had spent the second half of his life in New Zealand where he also composed the poem which would become our national anthem, God Defend New Zealand
My dear Grandmother had this framed poem on her dressing table when I was a small child. I have only now, at 80 years of age realised the full significance of NOT UNDERSTOOD.
My grandfather (1900-1983) had this poem, copied in his own hand and committed to memory, among his personal papers. Well-read and well-worn, it was a favorite of his and one of his favorites he would recite to grandchildren.
This was the first poem that I ever heard and learnt. My father taught it to me when I was just a little boy and it has had a profound impact on my life. I am now 59 years old.
Found this poem in the back of my Grandmothers bible (1912) In a time of great trials, I loved it.