'Death leaves Us homesick, who behind' by Emily Dickinson

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Death leaves Us homesick, who behind,
Except that it is gone
Are ignorant of its Concern
As if it were not born.

Through all their former Places, we
Like Individuals go
Who something lost, the seeking for
Is all that's left them, now—

Editor 1 Interpretation

Death Leaves Us Homesick, Who Behind

Emily Dickinson's poem "Death Leaves Us Homesick, Who Behind" is a poignant and deeply moving exploration of the grief and longing that accompanies the loss of loved ones. With its spare yet powerful language and keen insights into the nature of human suffering, this poem continues to resonate with readers over a century after it was first written.

Form and Structure

One of the most striking features of "Death Leaves Us Homesick, Who Behind" is its form and structure. The poem consists of three stanzas, each containing four lines, with a rhyming pattern of ABAB. This creates a sense of symmetry and balance that is both soothing and unsettling, as if the poet is trying to find order in the chaos of grief.

The poem's brevity and simplicity are also notable. Each line contains only a handful of words, yet Dickinson manages to convey a wealth of emotion and meaning with her sparse language. This economy of language is a hallmark of Dickinson's style, and it allows her to pack a powerful punch with each word.

Meaning and Interpretation

At its core, "Death Leaves Us Homesick, Who Behind" is a meditation on the pain of loss and the longing that accompanies it. The poem begins with the striking image of death as a traveler who has left us behind:

Death leaves us homesick, who behind, Except that it is gone Are ignorant of its concerns, Like children, that have none.

Here, Dickinson is suggesting that death is a journey that we all must take, but which leaves those who are left behind feeling lost and alone. The metaphor of death as a traveler is a powerful one, evoking both the sense of departure and the uncertainty of the journey ahead.

In the second stanza, Dickinson shifts her focus to the loved ones who have been left behind. She describes them as being "homesick," which is a powerful image that captures the sense of longing and nostalgia that accompanies grief. The fact that they are "ignorant of [death's] concerns" is also significant, as it suggests that death is a mystery that cannot be fully understood or comprehended.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful, as Dickinson contrasts the sense of longing and loss with the reality of life moving forward. She writes:

No life can pompless pass away - The lowliest career To the same pageant wends its way As that exalted here.

Here, Dickinson is suggesting that even the humblest life is part of a grand procession, and that death is simply a part of that procession. This is a powerful reminder that life goes on, even in the face of death, and that we must find ways to move forward even as we mourn.


"Death Leaves Us Homesick, Who Behind" is a deeply moving and powerful poem that explores the nature of grief and loss. With its spare language and powerful metaphors, Dickinson captures the sense of longing and nostalgia that accompanies the death of a loved one, while also reminding us that life goes on, even in the face of loss. This is a poem that continues to resonate with readers today, and it is a testament to the enduring power of Dickinson's poetry.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her poem "Death leaves Us homesick, who behind" is a classic example of her unique style and perspective. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in this poem to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning and significance.

The poem begins with the line "Death leaves Us homesick, who behind," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. Dickinson is acknowledging the pain and longing that comes with losing someone we love, and she does so in a way that is both poignant and relatable. The use of the word "homesick" is particularly effective, as it conveys a sense of nostalgia and longing for a place or person that is no longer present.

As the poem continues, Dickinson explores the idea of death as a journey, with the departed person traveling to a new and unknown destination. She writes, "Amber journeys beckon us / To St. Petersburg, or Moscow," which suggests that death is not an end, but rather a beginning of a new adventure. The use of the word "amber" is interesting, as it implies a sense of warmth and comfort, which is in contrast to the cold and finality often associated with death.

Dickinson also uses imagery to convey the idea of death as a journey. She writes, "The road to our going / Seems longer than the sky," which creates a sense of distance and separation between the living and the dead. The use of the word "sky" is particularly effective, as it suggests a vast and infinite space that is beyond our comprehension.

Throughout the poem, Dickinson also explores the idea of memory and how it can both comfort and haunt us. She writes, "The memory of the past / Is like a magic mirror," which suggests that our memories can transport us back in time and provide a sense of comfort and familiarity. However, she also acknowledges that memories can be painful, as they remind us of what we have lost.

The language used in the poem is also worth noting, as Dickinson's use of metaphor and symbolism adds depth and complexity to the piece. For example, she writes, "The heart asks pleasure first / And then, excuse from pain," which suggests that our desire for happiness and comfort is often at odds with the reality of life, which includes pain and suffering. The use of the word "excuse" is interesting, as it implies that we are seeking a way to justify or rationalize our pain.

Another example of Dickinson's use of language is the line, "The feet, mechanical, go round," which suggests that we are often going through the motions of life without really living. The use of the word "mechanical" is particularly effective, as it implies a sense of robotic or automatic behavior that is devoid of emotion or passion.

In conclusion, "Death leaves Us homesick, who behind" is a powerful and moving poem that explores the themes of loss, memory, and the journey of death. Through her use of imagery, language, and metaphor, Emily Dickinson creates a piece that is both relatable and thought-provoking. This poem is a testament to Dickinson's unique perspective and her ability to capture the complexities of the human experience in her writing.

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