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Poems

J1100

The last Night that She lived
It was a Common Night
Except the Dying - this to Us
Made Nature different

We noticed smallest things -
Things overlooked before
By this great light upon our Minds
Italicized - as 'twere.

As We went out and in
Between Her final Room
And Rooms where Those to be alive
Tomorrow were, a Blame

That Others could exist
While She must finish quite
A Jealously for Her arose
So nearly infinite -

We waited while She passed -
It was a narrow time -
Too jostled were Our Souls to speak
At length the notice came.

She mentioned, and forgot -
Then lightly as a Reed
Bent to the Water, struggled scarce -
Consented, and was dead -

And We - We placed the Hair -
And drew the Head erect -
And then an awful leisure was
Belief to regulate -

c. 1866                    1890

 

As well as writing poems that investigate the mystery of death from the inside (280, 465), Dickinson also wrote many poems describing death from the outside, focussing on the emotional state of the bereaved. This is one of the most moving and authentically realized of her poems on this all-too-human subject.