- Not a breath of wild air;
- Still as the mosses that glow
- On the flooring and over the lines
- Of the roots here and there.
- The pine-tree drops its dead;
- They are quiet, as under the sea.
- Overhead, overhead
- Rushes life in a race,
- As the clouds the clouds chase;
- And we drop like the fruits of the tree,
The father of the British novelist and poet George Meredith (1828–1909) inherited a failing business from his own father and his son George grew up in poverty with barely any education. His first novel, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, which came out in 1859 and is now considered a classic of 19th-century fiction, garnered some positive reviews but was generally considered to be of “low moral tone” and the suggestion that the work was indecent destroyed its chance of success. The other novel of Meredith’s that remains canonical is The Egoist, which was critically acclaimed and made him famous. Meredith remained a serious and productive poet throughout his life. The poem “Dirge in the Woods” was published in his collection Poems and Ballads of Tragic Life (1887) and a year later in the collection A Reading of Earth (1888).