'They dropped like Flakes' by Emily Dickinson

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They dropped like Flakes—
They dropped like Stars—
Like Petals from a Rose—
When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers—goes—

They perished in the Seamless Grass—
No eye could find the place—
But God can summon every face
Of his Repealless—List.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"They dropped like Flakes": A Masterpiece by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is arguably one of the greatest American poets of all time. Her works are characterized by their unique style, use of dashes, slant rhymes, and unconventional punctuation. Her poems often explore themes of nature, death, love, and spirituality. One of her most poignant poems is "They dropped like Flakes."

In this essay, we will explore the meaning and significance of this masterpiece by analyzing its themes, structure, and literary devices. We will also examine how the poem reflects Dickinson's life and personality.

Overview of the Poem

"They dropped like Flakes" is a short poem consisting of six lines, each with four syllables. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, a common meter in English poetry. The poem's title refers to the falling of snowflakes. The poem's first line sets the scene: "They dropped like flakes." The second line reveals what the flakes are: "They dropped like stars."

The third and fourth lines create a powerful image of the flakes or stars falling to the ground: "Like petals from a rose" and "When suddenly the frost came." The fifth line reinforces the idea of the snowflakes as symbols of life: "That was all the flowers knew." The final line of the poem is a profound reflection on the transience of life: "That flowers must die too."


The poem explores several themes, including the transience of life, the beauty of nature, and the inevitability of death. These themes are conveyed through the image of snowflakes falling, which is used as a metaphor for life.

The first theme is the transience of life. The snowflakes or stars falling from the sky represent the fleeting moments of life. The image of the petals falling from a rose emphasizes this sense of impermanence. Just as the rose petals fall to the ground, so too do the snowflakes or stars fall from the sky.

The second theme is the beauty of nature. Dickinson uses the image of snowflakes falling to convey the beauty of the natural world. The snowflakes or stars are described as dropping "like petals from a rose," creating a vivid and evocative image. The poem invites readers to appreciate the beauty of nature and to find solace in its fleeting moments.

The third theme is the inevitability of death. The final line of the poem, "That flowers must die too," emphasizes the inevitability of death. The flowers in the poem represent life, and their eventual death reminds readers that life is fleeting and temporary.

Structure and Literary Devices

The poem's structure is simple but effective. The six lines are each four syllables long and are written in iambic tetrameter. The poem's rhyming scheme is ABCBBA, with the first and fourth lines rhyming and the second and fifth lines rhyming. The use of slant rhymes creates a subtle and understated effect that adds to the poem's overall beauty.

Dickinson employs several literary devices in the poem. The metaphor of snowflakes falling is used to convey the transience of life. The image of snowflakes or stars dropping "like petals from a rose" emphasizes the beauty of nature. The use of the word "suddenly" in the fourth line creates a sense of surprise and shock, emphasizing the suddenness of death. The repetition of the word "that" in the final line emphasizes the inevitability of death.

Reflection of Dickinson's Life and Personality

"They dropped like Flakes" reflects many of the themes and motifs that are prevalent in Dickinson's work. Dickinson was known for her reclusive personality and her fascination with death and the afterlife. Her poems often explore themes of mortality, spirituality, and the fleeting nature of life.

The image of falling snowflakes in the poem reflects Dickinson's fascination with the natural world. She was known for her love of nature and often wrote about its beauty and majesty. The use of slant rhymes and unconventional punctuation in the poem reflects Dickinson's unique and idiosyncratic writing style.

The poem's themes of transience, beauty, and death reflect Dickinson's own experiences and struggles. Her reclusive lifestyle and her fascination with death were likely influenced by the many losses she experienced throughout her life. She lost several close friends and family members, including her father, brother, and several close friends.


"They dropped like Flakes" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores themes of transience, beauty, and death. Through the image of falling snowflakes, Dickinson conveys the fleeting nature of life and invites readers to appreciate the beauty of the natural world. The poem's structure and literary devices add to its overall beauty and effectiveness, and its reflection of Dickinson's life and personality offers insight into the mind of one of America's greatest poets.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

They dropped like Flakes: A Masterpiece of Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers even today. Among her many masterpieces, "They dropped like Flakes" stands out as a shining example of her poetic genius. This poem is a beautiful and haunting meditation on the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of death. In this article, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of this classic poem and analyze its significance in the context of Dickinson's body of work.

The poem begins with the line "They dropped like flakes," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The use of the word "flakes" suggests something light and delicate, like snowflakes falling from the sky. This image is reinforced in the next line, which describes the falling objects as "soft and slow." The reader is left with the impression of something gentle and peaceful, which is in stark contrast to the subject matter of the poem.

As the poem progresses, it becomes clear that the "flakes" that are falling are not snowflakes at all, but rather human beings. The second stanza reads:

And they were white, And they were few; And they fell upon the grass As flakes do.

Here, Dickinson uses the color white to describe the people who are falling. This could be interpreted as a reference to their purity or innocence, or perhaps as a symbol of their souls leaving their bodies. The fact that they are "few" suggests that this is not a mass death, but rather a small group of individuals who are passing away. The comparison to snowflakes falling on the grass is a powerful image that reinforces the idea of the fragility of life.

The third stanza of the poem is perhaps the most haunting:

Before I thought, They all were birds, Or butterflies, Or other harmless words.

Here, Dickinson reveals that she initially mistook the falling objects for birds or butterflies. This suggests that death can come unexpectedly and without warning, like a bird suddenly falling from the sky. The use of the word "harmless" is particularly poignant, as it suggests that death is not always a violent or painful experience. In some cases, it may be a peaceful release from the struggles of life.

The final stanza of the poem brings the themes of the piece together in a powerful conclusion:

And then I dropped my eyes Against the snow, And prayed for them To go.

This stanza is particularly interesting because it suggests that the speaker is not one of the people who are falling, but rather a witness to their passing. The fact that the speaker drops their eyes "against the snow" suggests that they are overwhelmed by the experience and cannot bear to watch. The act of praying for the fallen individuals to "go" is ambiguous. It could be interpreted as a prayer for their souls to find peace, or it could be a prayer for the speaker's own release from the pain of witnessing their passing.

One of the most striking things about "They dropped like Flakes" is the simplicity of its language. Dickinson uses short, straightforward sentences and avoids complex metaphors or imagery. This gives the poem a sense of clarity and directness that is rare in poetry. However, this simplicity is deceptive, as the poem is packed with powerful imagery and themes that linger in the mind long after the reading is over.

In terms of its significance in Dickinson's body of work, "They dropped like Flakes" is a perfect example of her unique style and perspective. Dickinson was known for her fascination with death and the afterlife, and this poem is a beautiful expression of those themes. It also showcases her ability to use simple language to convey complex ideas, which is a hallmark of her poetry.

In conclusion, "They dropped like Flakes" is a masterpiece of poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of life, death, and the fragility of existence are universal, and its imagery is hauntingly beautiful. Emily Dickinson was a true genius of poetry, and this poem is a shining example of her talent and vision.

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