This short poem by one of American literature’s greatest poets is actually about death – but then death is probably Emily Dickinson’s greatest theme. The ‘long, long sleep’ is the sleep of death: death is imagined as an unbroken slumber for centuries, where the sleeper doesn’t ‘once look up for noon’.
A long — long Sleep — A famous — Sleep —
That makes no show for Morn —
By Stretch of Limb — or stir of Lid —
An independent One —
Was ever idleness like This?
Upon a Bank of Stone
To bask the Centuries away —
Nor once look up — for Noon?
If you enjoyed ‘A Long, Long Sleep’, you might also like our pick of Emily Dickinson’s finest poems.