If You Have Seen by Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore was an Irish poet, songwriter, and entertainer who has best known for his subtle depictions of how differently he saw the world. In “If You Have Seen,” the poet asks his readers a few specific questions about life which he feels the reader needs to see to have seen the universe.

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If You Have Seen


Good reader! if you e’er have seen,
When Phoebus hastens to his pillow
The mermaids, with their tresses green,
Dancing upon the western billow:
If you have seen, at twilight dim,
When the lone spirit’s vesper hymn
Floats wild along the winding shore:
If you have seen, through mist of eve,
The fairy train their ringlets weave,
Glancing along the spangled green;–
If you have seen all this and more,
God bless me! what a deal you’ve seen!

Analysis of Moore’s “If You Have Seen”

Often referred to as Anacreon Moore in his lifetime, Thomas Moore was an Irish poet, songwriter, and entertainer who has best known for his subtle depictions of how differently he saw the whole universe. “If You Have Seen” is no different.

The poem is about the poet’s perspective of the universe and the way we see it. “If You Have Seen” is a simple but divine question that the poet asks the ‘good reader’ who would be reading his poem, where he, the poet is intrigued if the reader has ever seen Phoebus hastening to his pillow. This depicts his poetic wordplay with the readers in describing timeless moments. The poet then asks if the reader has ever seen the mermaids with their green long locks, dancing upon the “western billow”. The poet points out the subtle fairy tale like elements from his vivid imagination and inquires the readers about it.

The poet then becomes curious if the reader has heard the melodious sound of the prayers on the horizon which he illustrates as “vesper hymn.” The poet asks if the reader has seen the mist of the evening, floating around the winding shore, or the fairy train scurrying across the greenery with their weaving ringlets.

Thomas Moore has portrayed a different side to his genre of poems in “If You Have Seen” where he portrays what he feels are moments which are impeccable elements of life that should be seen, felt and observed. And thus the poet feels that if the reader to whom the poet has been addressing the poem has seen each and every intangible and tangible element that the poet has talked about, then by god, the reader has seen important things.

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