I was listening to a talk recently when the above Solomon Grundy nursery rhyme came up. I had heard it before, but had never really thought about its meaning. But something that day resonated with me and I have found myself unable to get the famous rhyme out of my head.
The Solomon Grundy poem meaning
Written by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillips in 1842, the Solomon Grundy poem, to me, has a pretty clear and obvious meaning.
Very simply, the Solomon Grundy poem is about the fragility of life, how fast life goes, and how, frankly, life could be over for you at any point – you can die at any moment and suddenly that’s it for you. In fact, of all the takeaways, I think that is the most important thing to take from the Solomon Grundy rhyme – you can die at any moment, completely out-of-the-blue.
How the Solomon Grundy rhyme can change your life
Okay, firstly, let’s ignore the literal meaning of the words here. Although, in the Solomon Grundy song, Solomon is born on a Monday and dies on a Saturday, this is meant to be a metaphor. The guy clearly didn’t get married two days after being born!
Now we’ve dealt with the obvious, let’s deal with the true meaning behind the words.
How often do we go through life just doing the normal day-to-day stuff, assuming that we will have tomorrow to do the things we put off? Often times we have dreams, goals and ambitions that we want to go after, but we never do them because we “don’t have time”.
And I get it, we do have to do these normal life things. We need to work, we need to generate an income to look after ourselves, our family, and those around us. We need to do the food shopping. We need to take the kids to their activities, etc etc etc.
But we also need to do the things that give us meaning in life. We also need to do the things that we dream about and that we truly desire.
Do you have a goal or dream you want to achieve? Do you want to start your own business? Get in shape? Become an actor? Or generally do something different with your life that gives you true meaning and makes you feel alive?
Well, if you constantly put that thing off, you’ll end up like Solomon Grundy – you’ll go through the day-to-day consistently putting those things you truly desire off, until you find you suddenly have no time left.
Why the Solomon Grundy nursery rhyme resonated with me
If you have read my posts before, you will know that I struggled for a long time to go after my dreams of being a film director, mostly because of fear. That fear was likely a result of the conditioning around me.
You see, at least when I was growing up, the UK was not exactly a place where you were fully encouraged to go after your dreams. I knew I wanted to be involved with film and acting from when I was about 16, but my school actively pushed me in to more “traditional” fields. Creative pupils were told they should have a “backup plan” and do “traditional” subjects in our last years of school (such as English, Maths, the sciences, Economics, etc), and do something more “traditional” at university in case we “failed” in our creative endeavours.
Not exactly inspiring.
I ended up doing a Law degree. Nothing like what I wanted to do with my life.
How much time was wasted doing this thing I didn’t want to do? And it only made it harder after university, as I then struggled mentally to go after what I really wanted, and had also become used to doing Law. It took years to get over that, and, all the while, I knew I was living a life similar to the life of Solomon Grundy, going through the motions but not really doing what I wanted with my life.
Things to think about after reading the Solomon Grundy poem
Don’t let this poem be another thing that you read, understand and take on the meaning of, but then don’t act on.
You could seriously die at any moment. Think about that. You could die at any moment.
What if you just go through the motions, but never go after the things you really want in life? What if you get to the end of your life and realise you never went after your dreams or your ambitions? What if you realise you didn’t live life to the full?
We tend to assume we will always have tomorrow to do the things we really want, but we might not.
Yes, life has things we have to do. There are the realities of life to deal with. But you have to make time for the things you want. You have to command yourself to go after your dreams.
Think about what a successful life means to you. Is it “going through the motions”? If so, that’s genuinely fine. But if you want something else, don’t let those thoughts and feelings slip by and not acted upon.
If you feel within yourself that you are not living what you determine to be a full and successful life right now, then do something to change it. And this is whatever your definition of a successful life is, not someone else’s. If you are not living the life you truly want to live, then start acting upon those feelings.
Because Solomon Grundy’s situation, really, happens to everyone. The Solomon Grundy poem isn’t just about dying coming out of nowhere. It’s also about how life is short. One day you are just living your life and the next it’s over. Life goes in a flash, even if something tragic doesn’t happen out-of-the-blue.
We have to take full advantage of this life and do everything we can with it. We have that responsibility. Life goes in a flash. Learn the lessons from the Solomon Grundy nursery rhyme and get out there and live life before it’s over.
Are there any other poems or pieces of poetry you like that resonate with you in a similar way to this Solomon Grundy poem? If so, let me know in the comments! It would be great to see some rhymes like this.
I am reminded of the quote by Michael Landon, which i think has particular relevance, here:
“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”Michael Landon
If you have read this nursery rhyme and are wondering if you should follow your dreams, that post is for you.
And if you know that you definitely don’t want to do what you are currently doing job-wise, check out this post on what to do if you hate your job.
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