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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