'Alone and in a Circumstance' by Emily Dickinson

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Alone and in a Circumstance
Reluctant to be told
A spider on my reticence
Assiduously crawled

And so much more at Home than I
Immediately grew
I felt myself a visitor
And hurriedly withdrew

Revisiting my late abode
With articles of claim
I found it quietly assumed
As a Gymnasium
Where Tax asleep and Title off
The inmates of the Air
Perpetual presumption took
As each were special Heir—
If any strike me on the street
I can return the Blow—

If any take my property
According to the Law
The Statute is my Learned friend
But what redress can be
For an offense nor here nor there
So not in Equity—
That Larceny of time and mind
The marrow of the Day
By spider, or forbid it Lord
That I should specify.

Edited by Peter Carter

Editor 1 Interpretation

Alone and in a Circumstance: A Masterpiece by Dickinson

Have you ever felt alone even when surrounded by people? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like the world was against you and you were powerless? Emily Dickinson's poem, "Alone and in a Circumstance," delves into the depths of these emotions and captures them with remarkable precision.

Overview of the Poem

"Alone and in a Circumstance" is a short but powerful poem that consists of two stanzas. It was written by Emily Dickinson in the mid-1800s and was first published posthumously in 1890. The poem's title itself is intriguing, as it suggests a sense of isolation even in the midst of a situation.

Analysis of the Poem

The first stanza of the poem begins with the line, "One dignity delays for all," which suggests that there is something that all people share in common. This "dignity" is not specified, but it could be interpreted as the inherent worth and value of human life. The next line, "One mitre crowns us all," reinforces this idea by using religious imagery. A "mitre" is a bishop's headdress and could represent the idea that we are all equal in the eyes of a higher power.

The third line, "And that is Death," is a powerful statement that highlights the inevitability of death. Death is the one thing that awaits everyone, regardless of their station in life. The line is also significant because it marks a turning point in the poem. Up until this point, the poem has been focused on the similarities between people. However, the idea of death introduces a sense of finality and separation.

The second stanza begins with the line, "We are the same sir," which echoes the sentiment of the first stanza. However, the next line, "Suitors of the Supreme," introduces a new idea. The word "suitors" suggests that we are all seeking something, and that something is the Supreme Being. This line could be interpreted as a commentary on the human need for purpose and meaning in life.

The final two lines of the poem are arguably the most powerful. "Ye heavens, look down on us / With all your eyes and see." In these lines, Dickinson is calling out to the heavens, asking them to bear witness to the struggles of humanity. The use of "all your eyes" is particularly striking, as it suggests that the heavens have multiple perspectives on human life.

Interpretation of the Poem

"Alone and in a Circumstance" is a poem that speaks to the universal human experience of feeling alone and powerless. The poem suggests that despite our differences, we are all united by the inevitability of death. It also suggests that we are all searching for something, whether that be a higher power or simply a sense of purpose.

The use of religious imagery throughout the poem is also significant. The mitre and the Supreme Being are both symbols of something greater than ourselves. By invoking these images, Dickinson is suggesting that there is more to life than just the material world.

Finally, the poem's call to the heavens is a powerful statement. It suggests that even though we may feel alone and powerless, there is something greater that is watching over us. This could be interpreted as a message of hope, reminding us that we are not truly alone.


"Alone and in a Circumstance" is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the universal human experience with remarkable precision. Dickinson's use of language and imagery creates a powerful and evocative work that speaks to the soul. The poem's message of unity and hope is one that resonates with readers even today, over a century after it was first written. Truly, "Alone and in a Circumstance" is a work of art that will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her poem "Alone and in a Circumstance" is a perfect example of her unique style and perspective. This poem is a powerful exploration of the human condition, and it offers a profound insight into the nature of solitude and isolation.

At its core, "Alone and in a Circumstance" is a meditation on the experience of being alone. Dickinson begins the poem by describing the feeling of being "alone and in a circumstance," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. She goes on to describe the various ways in which she experiences this solitude, from the "silence" that surrounds her to the "emptiness" that she feels inside.

One of the most striking things about this poem is the way in which Dickinson uses language to convey her emotions. Her words are simple and direct, but they are also incredibly powerful. For example, when she describes the "silence" that surrounds her, she uses the word "stillness" instead. This subtle shift in language creates a sense of tension and unease, as if the silence is something that is actively oppressing her.

Another key element of this poem is the way in which Dickinson explores the idea of isolation. She describes herself as being "alone and in a circumstance," which suggests that she is not just physically alone, but also emotionally and psychologically isolated. This is a common theme in Dickinson's work, and it speaks to the deep sense of alienation that she felt throughout her life.

Despite the bleakness of the poem's subject matter, there is also a sense of hope and resilience that runs throughout it. Dickinson writes that she is "not afraid," even though she is alone. This suggests that she has a sense of inner strength and courage that allows her to face her solitude head-on.

Overall, "Alone and in a Circumstance" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that offers a unique perspective on the human experience. Through her use of language and imagery, Dickinson is able to convey the complex emotions that come with being alone, and she offers a message of hope and resilience that is both inspiring and uplifting.

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