The Dash by Linda Ellis - Poetry Analysis (2023)

Linda Ellis

"The Dash" is a beautiful, widely popular poem in which poet Linda Ellis explores themes of death, life, and the meaning of life.

In the poem thatspokesmanexamines the meaning of the "hyphen" that separates two dates, a person's date of birth, and the following date, the date of death. It's a small thing, but it means a lot. the one with the poemHumorit is uplifting and inspiring. He challenges his readers to look at their own lives and reevaluate what they are doing with their "trait."

Discover the poem Dash

  • 1. Summary
  • 2 Structure
  • 3 Poetic Techniques
  • 4 Detailed analysis
  • 5 Frequently Asked Questions
  • 6 similar poetry
The Dash by Linda Ellis - Poetry Analysis (1)


'the property' by Linda Ellis is a well-known poem that talks about the brevity of life and the importance of being loved and living full of love.

The poem begins with the speaker describing aRedthey found out. It was given by a man at a funeral who was talking about the life of his deceased friend. He urged everyone present to consider the "trail" between the birth and death of his friend. That, he said, is what really counts. With this tale as the basis for the poem, the speaker speaks to the reader. They ask everyone to think about how they live their own quality and if after they die they would be proud of what they did.

(Video) The Dash

You can read the whole poemHere.


'The script'by Linda Ellis is an eight part bookversoPoem divided into sets of four lines in this iteration, known asblocks. There are several different versions of this poem, all with different meanings.line breaks, number of lines per stanza and a count ofstanzas. There are also variations in the text. Sometimes the deceased is a woman, sometimes a man, and sometimes a general "she".The poem follows a very simple line.Reimschemaof ABCB, with the endings changing from verse to verse.

Poetic Techniques

Ellis uses various poetic techniques in'The script'.These include but are not limited to:

  • symbolism
  • Alliteration
  • full

The first,symbolism, is when a poet uses objects, colors, sounds or places to represent something else. In this case theSymbolthe "encouragement" is central to the entire poem.

It is introduced very clearly in the poem and in the third definite stanza. this is often not the caseSymbol. But Ellis doesn't use complexesfigurative languagethey'The script'.Rather, the language, images, and meanings behind them are very clear and require little interpretation to understand.

Alliterationoccurs when words are used consecutively or at least occur together and start with the same sound. For example, "live" and "love" in verse four, and "read" and "redo" in verse eight.

Another important technique that is often used in poetry isfull. Occurs when a line is clipped just before its natural breakpoint. The overlap forces the reader to move quickly to the next line and the next. One has to move forward to comfortably solve a phrase or sentence. For example, the transitions between verses one and two of the first verse and three and four of the fourth verse.

Detailed analysis

verse one and two

I read about a man who stood up to speak at a friend's funeral. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from start to finish.

(Video) The Dash Poem - Live Your Dash - The Dash Movie


In the first stanza of'The script,'The speaker begins with a story. These are not his experiences, but those of a man they "read" about. In the second line describing thecontext, there is a good example ofAlliterationwith "funeral" and "friend". At the funeral, this unknown man spoke to the crowd about the life of his friend. He looked at the dates on the tombstone. There everyone could see the beginning and the end.

There is a hyphen between the two dates, and this hyphen becomes the focal point of the poem. It's "most important."

verses three and four

Because that line represents all the time they spent on earth and now only those who loved them know how much that little line is worth.


The hyphen, which defines the speaker, represents each day that person has spent on earth and who they have spent it with. The reader should note that in this version of the poem the speaking man is male, but the deceased is genderless. This allows the reader to see everyone, including themselves, as the departed.

That "little hairline" (another example of alliteration) is worth a lot if you think about it, says the man. In the fourth verse, he elaborates on what doesn't matter in life. Life, its purpose and its brevity is one of the main themes of'The script'.The man points out that it doesn't matter if we have cars, houses or money. These things are useless in the end. What matters is “how we spend our money”.

stanzas five and six

So think long and hard; Are there things you would like to change? Because you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.


(Video) The Dash Book(s) Story

In the fifth stanza of'The script,'The focus of the poem changes slightly, and the speaker turns to the reader. After hearing the story of the man's speech at the funeral, they decided to reevaluate their own lives. Now they challenge the reader to do the same. With overlapping, the speaker asks the reader to remember that their time on earth is limited.

Everyone, the spokesperson said, should be "less angry" and show appreciation and patience with everyone. Love should be the main emotion that "we" show.

verses seven and eight


So if your eulogy is read and you can relate to the facts of your life, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your race?

In the last two stanzas of'The script,'The narrator suggests being more respectful, smiling, and always remembering that "the step" will eventually come to an end. is limited

LatestSquarehe asks the reader to think very directly if he would be proud of how he lives his "trait". The poem ends with this question and it is up to the reader to complete the answer.

frequent questions

As Linda Ellis wrote'The script'Poem?

(Video) Poem- The Dash Between Those years

Linda Ellis wrote'The script'1996. It is his best known literary work and one of the most popular poems today.

What does the line between life and death mean?

The trait between life and death refers to everything that happened between the birth and death of a person. For example 1950-2010. The trace is everything between the birth and death of a person.

What is'The script'Poem?

'The script'Poem is a much-loved contemplative poem that explores the "dash" on a person's tombstone, or the line that represents the number of years that have elapsed between the date of birth and the date of death. It is usually read at funerals, for example one might read it at a friend's funeral.

Similar poetry

  • 'The death is nothing'VonHenry Scott Netherlands– talks thoughtfully about the nature of death. The narrator explains that this is not a real breakup.
  • 'death and moon'Voncarol ann duffy- It's ayou chosewritten for Adrian Henri, the poet's longtime associate. The poem focuses on the distance that death creates.
  • 'I have a date with death'VonAlan Seeger– is a moving war poem describing the imminent and inevitable death of the speaker.



What is the message of the poem The Dash? ›

The central theme of "The Dash" is to live life to the fullest.

What is the meaning of the poem The Dash by Linda Ellis? ›

The poem illustrates the importance of the 'dash' that is written between the date of a person's birth and the date of their passing. Throughout the poem, Ellis calls the reader to think about how they want to live out all of their years in between those two significant dates.

What figurative language is the poem The Dash? ›

Linda Ellis' poem, ''The Dash,'' uses a metaphor, comparing life to the dash, the punctuation mark between the birth date and date of death on a person's tombstone. Relaying the poem as a eulogy, or a speech given at a loved one's funeral, Ellis is able to admonish readers to be purposeful in how they live their lives.

What is the story about The Dash? ›

The poem is titled “Dash“, and talks about the line that separates the date a person is born from the date a person dies. The dash, in essence represents our life, and all the experiences we have had from birth to death.

What is the moral presented in the poem? ›

The moral is the meaning that the author wants the reader to walk away with. They can be found in every type of literature, from poetry to fiction and non-fiction prose. Usually, the moral is not stated clearly.

What is the moral lesson that the poem teaches us? ›

it tells us that challenges polishes us and bring the best out of us. if we take challenges with full courage then challenges will become our friend and will reach to great heights in our life.

What is the metaphorical meaning of the poem? ›

Metaphor is a common poetic device where an object in, or the subject of, a poem is described as being the same as another otherwise unrelated object. A beautiful example can be seen in the first stanza of The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, in the line: The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas…

What does your life is made of two dates and a dash mean? ›

The essence: Your life is made of two dates and a dash. Make the most of the dash. The translation: Your life is made of your date of birth and date of death with a dash between. The poem is poignant and certainly had me pondering my life, efforts and impact—my dash.

What does the phrase live The Dash mean? ›

It's is the little line between the year you are. born and the year you die. Live Your Dash means to be mindful that we're only on. this earth a little while.

What is the mood of the poem dash? ›

The poem's mood is uplifting and inspiring. It asks its readers to take a look at their own lives and reassess what they're doing with their “dash”.

What are 3 pieces of figurative language? ›

5 common types of figurative language with examples
  • 1 Simile. A simile compares two different things, using the words “like” or “as” to draw attention to the comparison. ...
  • 2 Metaphor. A metaphor compares two different things, similar to a simile. ...
  • 3 Personification. ...
  • 4 Hyperbole. ...
  • 5 Allusion.
Jul 1, 2022

What is the 5 figurative language? ›

5. Synecdoche. Synecdoche is a type of figurative language that uses one part to refer to the whole, or the whole to refer to the part. For example, a set of wheels can be used to refer to a vehicle and a suit to refer to a businessman.

How does dash affect the reader? ›

The Dash. An em dash—inserted by typing Control+Alt+Minus between the words it separates—signals an abrupt break in thought. It can be seen as “surprising” the reader with information. If used judiciously it can mark a longer, more dramatic pause and provide more emphasis than a comma can.

What effect does dash have on the reader? ›

The dashes' ability to create silence within the poem, forcing the reader to stop and take a break wherever one occurs, Johnson refers to as a “musical device” (x). The pause they create mimics the same effect as a comma, coaxing the reader into pausing, though on a slightly different scale.

What is the impact of a dash? ›

Like a caesura (a timely pause) in music, a dash indicates a strong pause, then gives emphasis to material following the pause. In effect, a dash allows you to redefine what was just written, making it more explicit.

What is the author's message to the reader of the poem? ›

An author's message is the "big idea" of the text or a part of the text. It is what the author wants the reader to learn or take away from reading the text.

What life lesson can you get from the poem? ›

Expert-Verified Answer

Kipling emphasizes that it is important to dream and have an imagination, but control of one's imagination is necessary, as well, for one must be realistic: If you can dream--and not make dreams your master... ...things you gave your life .

What does the poem reveal about the speaker *? ›

The poem reveals that the speaker is filled with doubts and fear and that's why so many questions keep coming to her mind.

What is the poet trying to teach us answer? ›

Explanation: The poet is trying to teach us that we should do only one thing at a time if we do not do so then none of our work will be Done properly..

How do you analyze a poem lesson? ›

How to Analyze a Poem in 10 Steps
  1. Read the poem. The first time you approach a poem, read it to yourself. ...
  2. Read the poem again, this time aloud. ...
  3. Map out the rhyme scheme. ...
  4. Scan the poem. ...
  5. Break down the structure. ...
  6. Determine the form of the poem. ...
  7. Study the language in the poem. ...
  8. Study the content of the poem.
Aug 16, 2021

What is the message of the poem learning to read? ›

In “Learning to Read,” Harper deploys the character of Aunt Chloe, an elderly former slave, to convey the value of literacy to Black people during and after slavery. During the era of slavery, many enslaved people viewed literacy as a key to freedom and coveted it.

What are 3 famous metaphors? ›

Famous metaphors
  • “The Big Bang.” ...
  • “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. ...
  • “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ...
  • “I am the good shepherd, … and I lay down my life for the sheep.” ...
  • “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” ...
  • “Chaos is a friend of mine.”

What does live each day as if it were your last mean? ›

You won't take your time for granted and would only pay attention to the things that are most important to you. You have no time to waste, because your life can end any minute.

What does line mean life is what we make it? ›

This page is about the saying "Life is what you make it" Possible meaning: It is up to you to make of your life what you want.

Would you be proud of how you lived your dash? ›

Bob Dole often recited 'The Dash' poem in speeches. His longtime staffer read it at his funeral. "When your eulogy is being read with your life's actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?" asks Linda Ellis' poem "The Dash," which was read at former Kansas U.S. Sen.

What does a dash symbolize? ›

A dash is a horizontal line that shows a pause or break in meaning, or that represents missing words or letters. Note that dashes are rather informal and should be used carefully in writing. Dashes are often used informally instead of commas, colons and brackets.

What is the full meaning of dash? ›

verb. dashes; dashed; dashing. Britannica Dictionary definition of DASH. 1. [no object] : to run or move quickly or suddenly.

What is dash symbol meaning? ›

The dash has only one use: a pair of dashes separates a strong interruption from the rest of the sentence. (A strong interruption is one which violently disrupts the flow of the sentence.)

What is the theme or mood of the poem? ›

The mood of a poem is synonymous with its atmosphere. This atmosphere evokes a particular kind of feeling or emotion in the reader or the audience, if the poem is performed or read out loud. The theme is the overall meaning of the poem.

What is the poet's mood at this point in the poem? ›

The correct answer is option 2), i.e. Pessimistic. Explanation: From the given lines of the poem it is clear that the poet is expressing sadness.

What type of mood the poet was in answer? ›

Ans. The poet was in a very depressed and hopeless mood.

What are 5 examples of hyperbole? ›

Examples of Hyperbole
  • I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse.
  • My feet are killing me.
  • That plane ride took forever.
  • This is the best book ever written.
  • I love you to the moon and back.
  • The pen is mightier than the sword.
  • I've told you this 20,000 times.
  • Cry me a river.
May 30, 2021

What is an example of allusion in a poem? ›

So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay. Here, iconic American poet Robert Frost makes an allusion to the Biblical Garden of Eden ("so Eden sank to grief") to strengthen this idea that nothing—not even Paradise—can last forever.

What is a metaphor in figurative language? ›

A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn't literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison.

What are 3 examples of a simile? ›

Here are a few examples of similes formed using 'as'.
  • As tall as a giraffe.
  • As sweet as sugar.
  • As strong as an ox.
  • As old as the hills.
  • As cool as a cucumber.

What is an example of metaphor? ›

Common metaphor examples

Life is a highway. Her eyes were diamonds. He is a shining star. The snow is a white blanket.

What is an example of figurative language in a poem? ›

Most generally, figurative language refers to language that is not literal: it suggests a comparison to something else, so that one thing is seen in terms of another. For example, the phrase fierce tears (the personification of tears) is figurative, since tears cannot really act in a fierce way, as people can.

What is the purpose of a dash between words? ›

The hyphen (-) is a mark that joins words or parts of words and is placed directly between letters and with no spaces. As indicated below, the hyphen is used in several ways. 1. Use a hyphen at the end of a line to divide a word where there is not enough space for the whole word.

How do you emphasize a dash? ›

A dash is expressed as an "em dash" ( — ) in printing, is expressed in plain text as two hyphens ( -- ) and is used in place of a comma, colon or semicolon for greater emphasis. It denotes a major break or pause and should not be overused.

How do dashes help clarify ideas for the reader? ›

However, dashes—with their sheer length—force longer pauses and emphasize the idea more than commas would. Dashes clarify ideas in longer sentences, where embedded material sometimes gets lost in a sea of commas. In Warren Buffett's 2018 letter to shareholders, he uses dashes to keep complex ideas sorted.

What is the main idea of the poem the dash? ›

Themes and Meaning

The central theme of "The Dash" is to live life to the fullest.

What is the concept of the poem dash? ›

The poem illustrates the importance of the 'dash' that is written between the date of a person's birth and the date of their passing. Throughout the poem, Ellis calls the reader to think about how they want to live out all of their years in between those two significant dates.

What is the central topic of the poem? ›

A poem's core concept is the subject of the poem, or 'what it's about' if you like. While many shy away from poetry being 'about' something, at the end of the day, as it was written, the poet had something in mind, and that something, whatever it was or may have been, is the central concept.

What are the 3 types of dashes? ›

There are actually three different types of dashes: the em-dash, the en- dash, and the 3-em dash. The em-dash can be used to replace parentheses, colons, and commas. Generally, using the em- dash makes the writing style more informal—as if you were writing to an old friend.

What is the value of a dash? ›

DASH Price Statistics
Dash Price$57.90
Trading Volume24h$143,835,233 32.49%
Volume / Market Cap0.2234
Market Dominance0.06%
Market Rank#69
2 more rows

Is the dash a special character? ›

A special character is a character that is not an alphabetic or numeric character. Punctuation marks and other symbols are examples of special characters.
Keyboard special characters.
-Hyphen, minus, or dash.
28 more rows
May 12, 2021

What does The Dash between to years mean? ›

Dashes between Dates and Numbers

The dash is used between ranges. These are often date ranges. For example: Between times: 1200–1600.

What is the message in the poem tableau? ›

What is the theme of 'Tableau? ' The theme is love and how it can combat prejudice and racism. It is strong enough to stand up against the gossip and cruelty of the white and Black communities that same-sex and biracial couples faced and still do face.

Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash? ›

Bob Dole often recited 'The Dash' poem in speeches. His longtime staffer read it at his funeral. "When your eulogy is being read with your life's actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?" asks Linda Ellis' poem "The Dash," which was read at former Kansas U.S. Sen.

What are the two meanings of dash? ›

Dash is a verb that means to strike violently, to run quickly over a short distance, or to frustrate or ruin. Dash is also used as a noun to mean a small amount of something added to a mixture. Dash has many other senses as a verb and a noun. Usually, we say that something was dashed against something else.

What is the meaning of dash and examples? ›

dash verb (MOVE QUICKLY)

to go somewhere quickly: The dog ran off, and she dashed after him. UK I've been dashing around all day. UK I must dash - I've got to be home by seven. Thesaurus: synonyms, antonyms, and examples.

What does dash mean in words? ›

A dash is a horizontal line that shows a pause or break in meaning, or that represents missing words or letters. Note that dashes are rather informal and should be used carefully in writing. Dashes are often used informally instead of commas, colons and brackets.

What is the main idea of the poem analysis? ›

Main idea is what the poem is mostly about. It's not a summary because it doesn't contain many specific details. The main idea is the idea that all those little details go to support.

What is the poem the answer about? ›

'Answer' by Chinua Achebe is a short poem about a person ridding himself of an inferiority complex. This free verse portrays a persona who fears yet admires the culture of his colonial masters. He eagerly follows their ways, abandoning his own culture until he realizes its value.

What is the idea of the poem answer? ›

Answer: The central idea of a poem is the poem's theme or 'what it's about' if you like. Although many shy away from poems being 'about' something, at the end of the day, the poet had something in mind when it was written, and that something is the central idea, whatever it is or might have been.

What matters most is how we spend our dash? ›

What matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash. So, think about this long and hard. Are there things you'd like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

What are 3 things to be proud of? ›

What's on your list of things to be proud of?
  • Who you are.
  • Your best traits.
  • Your smile and the way it lights up the world.
  • The way you carry yourself with confidence.
  • How much you care about your loved ones and the world.
  • The challenges you've overcome.
  • The lessons you've learned.
  • Being able to forgive yourself.
Nov 12, 2021


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