The Dead "We Have Come Into Our Heritage"
by James Joyce

The Dead book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download The Dead Study Guide

Subscribe Now

"We Have Come Into Our Heritage"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This poem expresses sincere, sympathetic feelings emanating from personal experience in World War I. Underlying the tragedy with which the poem deals is a patriotic consolation. The poem begins with an apostrophe to the bugles: "Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!" Then the meaning and consequences of their death are treated. The poet dwells first upon the sacrifice involved. In dying for a cause these men "laid the world away; poured out the red/ Sweet wine of youth," and by denying themselves a progeny they gave "their immortality." They assured for those remaining the triumph of eternal values. They brought us, the poet says, Holiness, Love, and Pain. The virtues and nobility of mankind are established and assured because of their purposeful add dedicated sacrifice. He concludes:

Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,
And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And Nobleness walks in our ways again;
And we have come into our heritage.