I remember a wonderful poem from my school anthology but I don't know the name or author. Is there a kind person who might recognise the following poem?

It's a very short poem. Female poet, I think. Definitely relatively modern. American poet, I think.

The subject is the poet talking about a dream they had, where they spoke to a deceased parent or loved one, saying something like "how like you" to appear in my dream and comfort me, and "how like me" to have this dream of you.

I would be most grateful if anyone recognises this. I've searched my poetry anthologies but can't find it.

The anthology was a South African school text book (English poetry) in the late seventies. It had a purple graphic cover. I think the title might have been "The Living Tradition" with multiple authors, one was Rumboll. The poems were mainly English literature but I think this one was American.

(Edited to add details as per identification requests wiki).

  • Hello and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. Please read the tag wiki for identification requests and edit your question to include further details based on the suggestions there. For example, when and where were you in high school? What do you remember about the physical book the poem was in? Do you remember any other pieces in the anthology? Those details will help narrow down the poem. Thanks!
    – verbose
    Commented Feb 19 at 1:24
  • Possibly from this textbook "The Beaten Drum" - chapter1.co.za/product/4195694/…
    – fez
    Commented Feb 19 at 12:11
  • 1
    You can accept a correct answer by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons, as per the tour. Commented Feb 21 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


That sounds like "The Reassurance" by Thom Gunn:

About ten days or so
After we saw you dead
You came back in a dream.
I'm alright now you said.

And it was you, although
You were fleshed out again:
You hugged us all round then,
And gave your welcoming beam.

How like you to be so kind,
Seeking to reassure.
And, yes, how like my mind
To make itself secure.

Though of course he's a male English poet, and I believe it was written too late to appear in your anthology (it is about the death of Allan Noseworthy, who died in the eighties).

  • Interesting how memory plays tricks - this is indeed the poem, male author, English as you say. Brilliant, thank you. Commented Feb 21 at 11:40

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