Skip to main content
By Emily Dickinson

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.


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

The famous hermit from Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson published only eight poems during her lifetime. Today her nearly 2,000 succinct, profound meditations on life and death, nature, love, and art make her one of the most original and important poets in English.

More By This Poet

More Poems about Living

Browse poems about Living