'Elysium is as far as to' by Emily Dickinson

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Elysium is as far as to
The very nearest Room
If in that Room a Friend await
Felicity or Doom--

What fortitude the Soul contains
That it can so endure
The accent of a coming Foot--
The opening of a Door--

Editor 1 Interpretation

Emily Dickinson's "Elysium is as far as to": A Journey to the Afterlife

When it comes to Emily Dickinson's poetry, we are often faced with an enigmatic and mysterious voice that speaks to us from another world, a world that is both elusive and profound. In "Elysium is as far as to," she takes us on a journey to the afterlife, a realm that is both fascinating and daunting. In this poem, Dickinson explores the theme of death and immortality, as she contemplates the idea of a life beyond this one. Through her use of imagery, symbolism, and language, she paints a picture of a world beyond our own, a world that is both eternal and ethereal.

The Poem

Before we delve into the poem itself, let's take a quick look at its structure. "Elysium is as far as to" is a six-stanza poem, with each stanza consisting of four lines. The poem follows a regular rhyme scheme of ABCB, with the second and fourth lines rhyming. The poem's title refers to Elysium, the mythical land of the dead in Greek mythology, also known as the Elysian Fields. Now, let's take a closer look at the poem's content and meaning.

Stanza 1

"Elysium is as far as to The very nearest Room If in that Room a Friend await Felicity or Doom -"

The poem begins with Dickinson's assertion that Elysium, the land of the dead, is not as far away as we might think. In fact, it's just a room away. However, what awaits us in that room is not necessarily happiness or sorrow, but rather "Felicity or Doom." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as Dickinson explores the idea that death is not an escape from our troubles, but rather a continuation of them.

Stanza 2

"What fortitude the Soul contains, That it can so endure The accent of a coming Foot - The opening of a Door -"

In the second stanza, Dickinson marvels at the strength of the human soul, which is able to endure the sound of someone approaching, and the opening of a door that leads to our ultimate fate. The use of the word "fortitude" suggests that Dickinson sees the soul as a source of strength, rather than weakness, as it prepares to face its final journey.

Stanza 3

"Almost identical it seems To that Persuasion, placed By Finite Nature - shorter guessed - The Supernatural Pest -"

In this stanza, Dickinson compares the inevitability of death to a persuasion that is placed by nature. She suggests that death is a natural part of the cycle of life, and that we should view it as such. However, she also juxtaposes the idea of a natural death with the "Supernatural Pest," which implies that there is something otherworldly about the experience of dying.

Stanza 4

"Than Room by Room the House resounds And Dexterously at that Affliction ranges Her Suspense - The anxious Calm of Death -"

Dickinson continues the metaphor of a house, suggesting that death is like a house where each room represents a step closer to the afterlife. She also introduces the idea of affliction, which ranges through the house, creating a sense of suspense and anxiety. This is a powerful image, as it suggests that death is not just a physical process, but an emotional and psychological one too.

Stanza 5

"Suspense - is Hostiler than Death - Death - tho'soever Broad, Is Just Death, and cannot increase - Suspense - does not conclude -"

In this stanza, Dickinson explores the concept of suspense, which she sees as being more hostile than death itself. She suggests that death, while broad, is simply that - death. It cannot be increased or diminished, but simply is what it is. Suspense, on the other hand, is open-ended, and does not conclude until the moment of death.

Stanza 6

"But, perished, every Subject And this must be the way Till Human Nature - will evolve And we must Homeless be -"

The final stanza of the poem returns to the idea of death as a natural process, suggesting that it is simply the way things are. Dickinson implies that this process will continue until humanity evolves to the point where we are no longer tied to the physical world, and are instead "Homeless," free to explore the realms of the afterlife.


So, what does all of this mean? What is Dickinson trying to tell us through this poem? First and foremost, she is exploring the idea of death and what lies beyond. While death is often seen as a negative and final event, Dickinson suggests that it is simply one step on a journey that we all must take. She sees death as a natural process, and encourages us to view it as such.

At the same time, however, Dickinson recognizes the emotional and psychological toll that death takes on us. She presents death as a complex process that involves not just physical decay, but also emotional and psychological struggle. She suggests that the suspense and anxiety that we feel as we approach death can be even more difficult to handle than death itself.

Overall, "Elysium is as far as to" is a powerful and meaningful exploration of the human condition. Through her use of language and imagery, Dickinson invites us to contemplate what lies beyond this life, and to view death as a natural and inevitable part of the cycle of life. Whether we believe in an afterlife or not, Dickinson's poem encourages us to approach death with courage and fortitude, and to embrace the mystery and wonder of the unknown.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her poem "Elysium is as far as to" is a true masterpiece. This poem is a perfect example of Dickinson's unique style, which is characterized by its brevity, ambiguity, and depth. In this analysis, we will explore the meaning and significance of "Elysium is as far as to" and examine the techniques that Dickinson uses to convey her message.

The poem begins with the line "Elysium is as far as to", which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem. Elysium is a reference to the ancient Greek concept of the afterlife, a place of eternal happiness and bliss. By stating that Elysium is "as far as to", Dickinson is suggesting that this place is unattainable, that it is beyond our reach. This idea is reinforced in the next line, which reads "as our feet had scarcely touched the meadows".

The use of the word "scarcely" is significant here, as it suggests that we have only just begun our journey towards Elysium, and yet it already seems out of reach. This idea is further developed in the next line, which reads "We should not know the way". Here, Dickinson is suggesting that even if we were to continue on our journey, we would not know how to get to Elysium. This is a powerful statement, as it suggests that the pursuit of happiness and bliss is ultimately futile.

The next few lines of the poem continue to explore this theme, with Dickinson using vivid imagery to convey the idea that Elysium is a distant and unattainable place. She writes, "But every hill is getting further back, / So little by little we begin to look / Around us with a solemn knack". The use of the word "solemn" here is significant, as it suggests that the realization that Elysium is unattainable is a sobering one.

The final lines of the poem are perhaps the most powerful, as Dickinson uses a metaphor to drive home her message. She writes, "Graves are but a covered way / And this a true Elysium is". Here, Dickinson is suggesting that the afterlife, which is often seen as a distant and unattainable place, is in fact all around us. The idea that the afterlife is not a physical place, but rather a state of being, is a powerful one, and it is one that Dickinson explores in many of her poems.

Overall, "Elysium is as far as to" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the idea of the afterlife and the pursuit of happiness and bliss. Dickinson's use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and ambiguity make this poem a true masterpiece, and it is a testament to her skill as a poet. Whether you are a fan of poetry or not, "Elysium is as far as to" is a poem that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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