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A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s ‘Pain has an Element of Blank’

A summary of a classic Dickinson poem

‘Pain — has an Element of Blank – ’ is a short poem by Emily Dickinson which, like ‘It was not Death, for I stood up’, treats the dark subject of mental and physical pain and the way it engulfs our lives, extinguishing everything else.

Pain — has an Element of Blank —
It cannot recollect
When it begun — or if there were
A time when it was not —

It has no Future — but itself —
Its Infinite realms contain
Its Past — enlightened to perceive
New Periods — of Pain.

When we are ill or in pain it is very difficult to remember a time when we weren’t ill or in pain. The visceral power of physical pain – but this might also be extended to psychological pain as well – prevents us from imagining or envisioning a time without it, whether in the past or the future. This, in summary, is a short paraphrase of the meaning of ‘Pain has an Element of Blank’. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s ‘This World is not Conclusion’

A short Emily Dickinson poem about life … and the afterlife

‘This World is not Conclusion’ is poem number 501 in Emily Dickinson’s Complete Poems. According to the best editorial guess, the poem was written in around 1862. ‘This World is not Conclusion’ sees Emily Dickinson exploring and analysing our attitudes to death and what awaits us beyond.

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond –
Invisible, as Music –
But positive, as Sound –
It beckons, and it baffles –
Philosophy – don’t know –
And through a Riddle, at the last –
Sagacity, must go –
To guess it, puzzles scholars –
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown – Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s ‘I cannot live with You – ’

A summary of a classic Dickinson poem

‘I cannot live with You’ is one of Emily Dickinson’s most famous poems, but like much of her greatest poetry, it eludes any easy or straightforward analysis. Somewhat unusually among Dickinson’s most celebrated poems, ‘I cannot live with You’ is a love poem – but it is far from a conventional one.

I cannot live with You –
It would be Life –
And Life is over there –
Behind the Shelf

The Sexton keeps the Key to –
Putting up
Our Life – His Porcelain –
Like a Cup –

Discarded of the Housewife –
Quaint – or Broke –
A newer Sevres pleases –
Old Ones crack – Read the rest of this entry