In my imagination, Hope is dressed in a white dress – the color which makes people believe that tomorrow is a better day. She seems to be a nice woman, but she has cunning nature. This means that people’s comfort may disappear if they continue to do nothing but hope that everything will be resolved by itself. Affection can be pictured as a gentle but increasingly passionate person who can create a strong bond between individuals.
The other personification is Arrogance, a coarse person willing to deny one’s merits. Nature stands for a tall and fragile woman, while Death represents a strong female dressed in black. Misery can be depicted as a wretched old lady who makes people suffer. Anguish is even worse – she lost Hope for everything in this world and can never recover from the pain she had experienced. Lonely Want is a depressed person having just a little bit of Hope inside.
The first stanza describes the general human condition where hope is unreal and delusive. It can be stated that these four lines convey that individuals take life too seriously. However, the lines “By sudden blows of slow decline, Our social comforts drop away” prove that one day everyone dies like the poet’s friend Dr. Robert Levet (Johnson, lines 3-4). By mentioning the loss of “social comforts,” Johnson meant that the connection with friends, family, and other people could be lost forever.
The second stanza provides a portrait of Dr. Robert Level, who is “officious, innocent, sincere” and has many friends. This stanza confirms the previous one since the comfort is what the unassuming Levet provided to his patients. Life is full of significant losses consisting of minor ones. Especially, it relates to losing sincere and respectable people like Level. Therefore, Levet’s portrait is what proves the inevitability of losing “social comforts.”
In the following three stanzas, Johnson describes Levet’s character. The poet states that the doctor was a man of actions rather than words (Johnson). Levet was incomprehensible in his manners, rude in conversation, and not sophisticated as a person. Even though he was coarse sometimes, he would always help people. His sacred talent was not to doubt. Additionally, his selflessness was undeniable merit no one could deny.
The last four stanzas show that Levet was a modest person regarding his wants since his primary mission was to care for patients. Conscientious performance of his work was a talent worthy of God’s blessing. By stating, “His virtues walked their narrow round,” Johnson meant that Levet always acted regardless of the circumstances (Johnson, line 25). His commitment to others is what is supposed to resurrect and free the doctor’s soul.
Final stanzas prove that both social comforts and time have a price. The longer someone lives, the more serious the possibility becomes that life will end in pain. Levet, despite its numerous merits, is not an exception since no one’s death is inevitable. However, it may be claimed that the doctor was an exceptionally dutiful and responsible person whose merits were praised only after his death. This indicates that people should be able to honor others while still healthy and alive.
Johnson expressed a personal loss of cry and regret, which evokes readers to appreciate the time spent together with people they value. The poem also emphasized the importance of praising and celebrating the best personality traits. Levet is a man who can be admired since he was not publicly proud of his numerous virtues and did not need goods in excess to sustain a decent level of life.
Johnson, Samuel. “On the Death of Dr. Robert Levet.” 1782. Poetry Foundation. Web.