Talking in Their Sleep Poem by Edith Matilda Thomas Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


Talking in Their Sleep” is a poem written by Edith Matilda Thomas, a 19th century American Poet. The poem was written in the collection of poetry named “A New Year’s Masque and Other Poems”. The poem is metaphorical in nature. The poet talks about the journey of life. The poet has emphasized the idea of patience, belief and hope through the life of apple tree, grass and flowers.

About the Poet:

Edith Matilda Thomas is a 19th century American Poet. She has published nearly 300 poems. She is one of the poet to capture the idea of modern city in the poem. The main theme behind her poems are romance, life and death. Some of her notable works include include The Round Year (1886), Lyrics and Sonnets (1887), Heaven and Earth (1889), The Flower from the Ashes (1915), etc. She died in 1925.


The poem “Talking in Their Sleep” contains three stanzas. Each stanza consists of ten internally rhyming lines. The poet has written this poem like a conversation between the apple tree, flower and grass.

Poetry Analysis:

Stanza 1:

“You think I am dead,”

   The apple tree said,

“Because I have never a leaf to show—

   Because I stoop,

   And my branches droop,

And the dull gray mosses over me grow!

But I’m still alive in trunk and shoot;

   The buds of next May

   I fold away—

But I pity the withered grass at my root.”

The apple tree starts the conversation in the first stanza. He conveys the message that he is alive to the readers. The apple tree says, I may seem dead as I have no leaves to show. The bare branches may seem like I am dead. The dull grey mosses over it.But the apple tree declares that he is still alive in its trunks and shoots. When the time comes for the apple tree to grow in May, it will prove the mistake of the poet. In the last line of the stanza, the apple tree regrets the grass decayed at its root. Here, the apple tree feels that grass lost its life in winter.

Stanza 2:

“You think I am dead,”

   The quick grass said,

“Because I have parted with stem and blade!

   But under the ground

   I am safe and sound

With the snow’s thick blanket over me laid.

I’m all alive, and ready to shoot,

   Should the spring of the year

   Come dancing here—

But I pity the flower without branch or root.”

By hearing the words of apple tree, the grass started to speak. The term “quick grass” refers to the quick response from the grass. It replies, though it has parted with stem and blade, it’s roots are safe under the ground. It tells the apple tree despite the spread of snow over it, the snow has failed to damage its roots. The grass informs, that he is waiting to shoot at the beginning of the spring season. Like apple, the grass feels sorry for flower as it has no branch or root to help him in the winter season.

Stanza 3:

“You think I am dead,”

   A soft voice said,

“Because not a branch or root I own.

   I never have died,

   But close I hide

In a plumy seed that the wind has sown.

Patient I wait through the long winter hours;

   You will see me again—

   I shall laugh at you then,

Out of the eyes of a hundred flowers.”

   The words of the grass made the flower speak in the last stanza. The flower speaks in a soft voice. The flower says I may look dead as I have no branches or roots. But it is not the truth. The flower tells that it is hiding in a pumy seed.So it is waiting patiently for the end winter season. It assures that the poet and others can see him again.He is ready to prove everyone wrong by laughing along with his fellow flowers.