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Count That Day Lost
by
George Eliot


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If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went --
Then you may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the livelong day,
You've cheered no heart, by yea or nay --
If, through it all
You've nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face--
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost --
Then count that day as worse than lost.

This poem is in the public domain.

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George Eliot (real name: Mary Ann Evans) (1819 – 1880) was well educated and well connected. She first became interested in books at the age of five, when she and her beloved brother Isaac were sent to separate boarding schools. Smart, shy, and well-behaved, Mary Ann was an exemplary student and easily acquired all the education and social graces appropriate for a young woman of her time and standing. Through a social connection, she obtained a position as assistant editor of the Westminster Review, a rather shocking achievement for a woman at that time, and one which allowed her to become acquainted with London’s literary crowd. Among that crowd was George Lewes, who encouraged Mary Ann to begin writing fiction in additional to poetry. And write fiction, she did—becoming one of England’s most revered and prolific novelists. (Silas Marner and Middlemarch are her best-known titles.)  Though she was a gifted and respected writer, Mary Ann suffered from self doubt and awkwardness in some of her personal relationships; Henry James very bluntly referred to her physical "ugliness," though she was said to have a beautiful speaking voice and be a truly charming woman.

 

 

 

 

 


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