It was not Death, for I stood up,
And all the Dead, lie down -
It was not Night, for all the Bells
Put out their Tongues, for Noon.

It was not Frost, for on my Flesh
I felt Siroccos - crawl -
Nor Fire - for just my marble feet
Could keep a Chancel, cool -

And yet, it tasted, like them all,
The Figures I have seen
Set orderly, for Burial
Reminded me, of mine -

As if my life were shaven,
And fitted to a frame,
And could not breathe without a key,
And ’twas like Midnight, some -

When everything that ticked - has stopped -
And space stares - all around -
Or Grisly frosts - first Autumn morns,
Repeal the Beating Ground -

But most, like Chaos - Stopless - cool -
Without a Chance, or spar -
Or even a Report of Land -
To justify - Despair.

Notes:

Note to POL students: The inclusion or omission of the numeral in the title of the poem should not affect the accuracy score. It is optional during recitation. 

  • Dickinson poems are electronically reproduced courtesy of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON: VARIORUM EDITION, Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press of Harvard University of Press, Copyright © 1988 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.  Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

  • Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition (Harvard University Press, 1998)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I actually enjoy poetry! When I started participating in the Poetry Out Loud competition in the 9th grade I hated poetry, but as I continued to participate over the years I grew a love and appreciation for the art form, and poetry is now a part of my identity."
Irvin Mason, Jr.
2016 USVI POL Champion