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Dickinson, Emily. "After great pain, a formal feeling comes".

Summary and Analysis

The poem is an image of a death-like state, not death precisely, because there are images of mechanical activity of a person whose "feet, mechanical, go round". This state must have been caused by a traumatic experience which is remembered with similar feelings "As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow".

But it is more likely another kind of chilling than in winter snow, a sudden emotional shock, a breakdown of values. It may also express doubts about God, as "the stiff Heart questions was it He". The concluding line summarizes the succession of "Chill then Stupor then the letting go". The last mentioned may refer to relief or death, or both (i.e. relief which is found in death).


  • Author

    Dickinson, Emily. (1830 - 1886).
  • Full Title

    Untitled, the first line is used for identification.
  • Form


Works Cited

Dickinson, Emily. "After great pain, a formal feeling comes". In: The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. NY: Norton, 1989.


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