‘The Loneliness One dare not sound’: A Poem by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (1830-86) wrote powerfully about loneliness and solitude, and perhaps nowhere more movingly than ‘The Loneliness One dare not sound’, a poem about a loneliness so profound that we can’t even bring ourselves to confront it for fear of being overwhelmed. This loneliness is ‘The Horror not to be surveyed — / But skirted in the Dark — / With Consciousness suspended — / And Being under Lock’.

The Loneliness One dare not sound—
And would as soon surmise
As in its Grave go plumbing
To ascertain the size—

The Loneliness whose worst alarm
Is lest itself should see—
And perish from before itself
For just a scrutiny—

The Horror not to be surveyed—
But skirted in the Dark—
With Consciousness suspended—
And Being under Lock—

I fear me this—is Loneliness—
The Maker of the soul
Its Caverns and its Corridors
Illuminate—or seal—

If you enjoyed ‘The Loneliness One dare not sound’, you might also enjoy our pick of Emily Dickinson’s greatest poems.