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A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s ‘For each ecstatic instant’

‘For each ecstatic instant’ is a short lyric by Emily Dickinson about the relationship between pleasure and pain, joy and suffering. The Earl of Rochester, in the seventeenth century, had asked, ‘All this to love and rapture’s due; / Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?’ In ‘For each ecstatic instant’, Emily Dickinson answers with a resounding, if regretful, Yes.

For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years —
Bitter contested farthings —
And Coffers heaped with Tears! Read the rest of this entry