What Is the Poem "The Dash" About?

“The Dash” by Linda Ellis is an inspirational lyric poem about the significance of the tiny dash between the birth date and the death date on a gravestone. Ellis begins “The Dash” by mentioning a story she read about a man delivering a eulogy. This eulogy is the framework Ellis uses to deliver a deeper meaning within the poem.

Because of its size, the tiny dash on every gravestone is often overshadowed by the number of years an individual lived for. Through the framework of a eulogy, Ellis draws the reader’s attention to the seemingly insignificant mark and uses it to signify something important — an individual’s time on Earth. She cleverly turns it into the most important part of the gravestone. This inspirational poem encourages the reader to be less quick to anger and to slow down so that a person may take stock of the moments when alive. "The Dash" encourages the readers to put their lives into perspective and make changes where necessary. The poem itself has been recited by celebrities and politicians as a way to inspire individuals to act and to bring attention to a cause. The poem has also inspired a movement known as Live Your Dash.