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Rate this poem:4.5 / 76 votes

George Eliot 1819 (Nuneaton, Warwickshire) – 1880 (Chelsea, London)

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.

About this poem

"Count That Day Lost" is a poem written by George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans). The poem is a reflection on the nature of success and failure, and encourages the reader to adopt a positive attitude towards life. It consists of two stanzas, each with four lines. The poem begins with the line "If you sit down at set of sun, and count the acts that you have done," suggesting that the reader should take stock of their accomplishments at the end of each day. The poem goes on to argue that even if the day has been filled with failure and disappointment, it is not truly lost if one has learned something from the experience. The poem is a powerful reminder to always strive to do one's best, and to view setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. 

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Modified by acronimous on March 14, 2023

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George Eliot

Mary Anne Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. more…

All George Eliot poems | George Eliot Books

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Discuss the poem Count That Day Lost with the community...

32 Comments
  • ezra_godson
    Very nice poem. I like her use of a flexible rhyme scheme. Wasn't forced, or predictable.
    LikeReply5 days ago
  • A.R.K
    Beautifully written.
    LikeReply5 days ago
  • JLane
    A very gentle spirit has been imbued into this writing. Thank you for sharing.
    LikeReply5 days ago
  • MaliMis1986
    Absolutely beautiful writen
    LikeReply22 days ago
  • karlcfolkes
    Thank you for your kindness and your gentle spirit revealed in your thoughtful words.
    LikeReply2 months ago
  • kem330
    Such a simple act of kindness in a mere smile making a profound difference in another person's day and life. If in life it only was so black and white. Nonetheless, still a very profound message and well written poem. 
    LikeReply2 months ago
  • stephenson_p
    Are we now saying that we exist only to make people smile? What happens to us then? Do we not also deserve a smile as well or is our entire existence bounded to the very act of living just for others? I am puzzled 
    LikeReply2 months ago
    • Kixy
      kindness given is kindness received. One thing that isn't for ourselves but yet for another isn't existing to only make others smile. It is realizing we are not always the center but instead a community. 
      LikeReply 126 days ago
  • Jimmy_Montemayor
    A fine read indeed.
    LikeReply3 months ago
  • daddymagic
    I like that if you can make someone smile it's a day best spent but I don't get how if you didn't make them smile it wasn't worth the time to even help them. That is kind of selfish to only be doing something for a reward instead of self worth. 
    LikeReply3 months ago
  • chey_c
    Beautiful
    LikeReply3 months ago
  • jerrywlawrence2666
    A Blessed Piece. I Liked It.
    LikeReply4 months ago
  • gaudencio_b
    The poem suggests reflections on the account of thinking and doing something good to others that may in one way or another would have positive outcome both for the doer and the receiver. On the other hand, without doing anything to a certain situation that requires immediate action, it is somewhat like disagreeable and disgusting. 
    LikeReply4 months ago
  • davidb
    good website!
    LikeReply5 months ago
  • lokeish_u
    Amazing poem.
    LikeReply5 months ago
  • willied.86748
    A powerful piece of verse, that challenges all of humanity to focus less on self and more on our fellowman, and if by chance we make mistakes along the way, its okay, because each encounter brings along with it, its on lessons that we might draw from. Knowing that as human beings or sentient beings we are not meant to be along but to be more communal. Willie Dean, Jr. Poet 
    LikeReply 15 months ago
  • nooshin
    needed this right now! poets are time travelers... walking right beside you with their bag full of word jewels...
    LikeReply6 months ago
  • Giselavigil
    The simplest act of kindness matters
    LikeReply6 months ago
  • keith_k
    The poem becomes very interesting and more mysterious if you read from the bottom line upwards.
    LikeReply 16 months ago
    • jackg.26131
      It's an excellent poem forwards yet read backwards is more a tale of redemption which is very talented and quite the feat.
      LikeReply6 months ago
  • karlcfolkes
    Quite an interesting and well written two-stanza poem. Imagine it. If the position of the two stanzas were reversed, with the contrastive word ‘but’ now introducing the first stanza as the newly formed second stanza, the poem would end in an even more positive note. 
    LikeReply8 months ago
  • vandhana_k
    Hiya.
    LikeReply 212 months ago
  • yomihabib
    Beautiful!Tragic and the power of loss!
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • dougb.19255
    I love how team commenting and exchange have been encouraged here. Just what a Forum should do. And I mean sentences, thought given and received. Forgot those dumb and pointless emojees etc. Doug Blair
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • jerrywlawrence2666
    A Heckuva Poem. It Touched Upon Religious Issues 2 Reflect On Perfectly.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • kimba75
    This poem helps the reader to see the importance of every day of our life. How we can be positive or negative. Accomplish something or nothing. It's up to us.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • dougb.19255
    One of my favourite novels is short. Silas Marner. Love in a little girl overwhelms greed, suspicion, loneliness
    LikeReply1 year ago
  • luisestable1
    This poem is about attitude towards life. You can look at it with a frown or with a smile. Happiness works from the inside out and depends on how we see things or the world.
    Great Poem!
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • luisestable1
    This poem tries to emphasize that nothing in life is wasted. Even bad experiences are opportunities for growth or learning, so no day is lost.
    A great poem this is and much could be say about it.
    LikeReply1 year ago
  • dougb.19255
    I an thinking about reading other works by her. She spoke from the heart. Rattling social convention. Scandal. Showing both the good and bad in us all. Diagnostician of human experience and trials and victoties. I have a DVD series on Middlemarch (BBC). A beginning. 
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Soulwriter
      she's fantastic isn't she
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • dougb.19255
    One of my favourite novels is the short book Silas Marner by George Eliot. A spunky woman taking a male pen name for greater acceptance at the time. Religion, both the real and the feigned. Social norms questioned. Dark places and lives redeemed. Avarice replaced by sweet, honest love for a little girl. Community coming to help in her upbringing in the cottage of Silas. Most happy ending. 
    LikeReply 21 year ago
    • Soulwriter
      I am 100% with you! I think Daniel Deronda is great too. But the new generation can't seem to relate to her. :(
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • carloss.69843
    sometimes an acknowledgment can speak a thousand words especially what we observe before and around us brightening or diming our expectations
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • Dougla$Irishman
    Are we our brother's keeper ? More than that, we should love our enemies, anyone can love their friends ! But to go beyond that is sacrificial love !
    The world will never learn, look at Ukraine !
    LikeReply 12 years ago
  • esdras_a
    I greatly enjoyed this poem. If one tries to understand the poem, it is truly a magnificent lesson. It was very well written, and the way the theme is conveyed is in a way easily understood.
    LikeReply 12 years ago

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