'I live with Him—I see His face' by Emily Dickinson

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I live with Him—I see His face—
I go no more away
For Visitor—or Sundown—
Death's single privacy

The Only One—forestalling Mine—
And that—by Right that He
Presents a Claim invisible—
No wedlock—granted Me—

I live with Him—I hear His Voice—
I stand alive—Today—
To witness to the Certainty
Of Immortality—

Taught Me—by Time—the lower Way—
Conviction—Every day—
That Life like This—is stopless—
Be Judgment—what it may—

Editor 1 Interpretation

"I live with Him—I see His face" by Emily Dickinson: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Emily Dickinson's poem "I live with Him—I see His face" is a highly complex and intriguing work of literature that explores themes of faith, love, and spirituality. At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple declaration of the speaker's love for God, but upon closer examination, it reveals itself to be a deeply layered and nuanced meditation on the nature of religious experience.

Background and Context

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830 and lived there for most of her life. She was a highly reclusive poet who produced nearly 1,800 poems over the course of her lifetime, most of which were not published until after her death in 1886. Dickinson was known for her highly compressed and dense language, her focus on themes of death and immortality, and her unique perspective on the world.

"I live with Him—I see His face" was written sometime in the mid-1860s, during a period of intense spiritual exploration for Dickinson. Although she was raised in a Protestant household, Dickinson's religious beliefs were highly idiosyncratic and unconventional. She was deeply interested in the concept of the divine, but she rejected many of the traditional tenets of Christianity and instead developed her own, highly personal form of religious expression.


The poem is composed of four quatrains, each of which explores a different aspect of the speaker's relationship with God. The first quatrain sets the tone for the rest of the poem, establishing the speaker's close proximity to God and her ability to perceive His presence:

I live with Him—I see His face—
I go no more away
For Visitor—or Sundown—
Death's single privacy

The opening line, "I live with Him— I see His face—," establishes immediately the speaker's intimacy with God. The use of the pronoun "Him" to refer to God is significant, as it implies a personal relationship between the speaker and deity. The phrase "I go no more away" underscores this intimacy, suggesting that the speaker has achieved a state of spiritual union with God that transcends physical boundaries.

The second quatrain develops this idea further, exploring the speaker's feelings of rapture and ecstasy in the presence of God:

His scrutiny—my Text—
Divinity—my Dowry—
Better—than Mines of Gold—
His Spirit—of the Bee—

Here, the speaker describes God as her "Text" and "Dowry," suggesting that her entire being is devoted to divine worship. The reference to "Mines of Gold" suggests that the speaker sees her relationship with God as the ultimate source of wealth and prosperity. The final line, "His Spirit—of the Bee," is highly metaphorical and open to multiple interpretations. It could be read as a reference to the industriousness and productivity associated with bees, suggesting that the speaker sees herself as part of God's ongoing creative process.

The third quatrain introduces a note of uncertainty into the poem, as the speaker expresses doubt about whether she is worthy of God's love:

No Blossom—on the Bush—
Nor Butterfly—at the Pane—
No Berries—on the Bush—
Nor Robin—on the lawn—

The absence of natural beauty in the world around her serves as a metaphor for the speaker's own sense of spiritual emptiness. The reference to "No Berries—on the Bush—" is particularly resonant, as it suggests that the speaker feels barren and infertile, unable to produce the spiritual fruit that would make her worthy of God's love.

The final quatrain offers an ambiguous conclusion to the poem, as the speaker expresses both a desire for and a fear of spiritual transcendence:

The Sun—burned every day—
Itself—like us—concerned—
The World—unquestionably—
Divided—by a Screen—

The line "The Sun—burned every day—" is highly evocative, suggesting both the intensity of God's presence and the potential for destruction that comes with it. The reference to the world being "Divided—by a Screen—" reinforces the idea that the speaker's relationship with God is tenuous and uncertain, existing in a liminal space between the physical and the spiritual.


"I live with Him—I see His face" is a powerful and evocative poem that offers a unique perspective on the nature of religious experience. Through its rich imagery and dense language, the poem explores the themes of intimacy, doubt, and transcendence, ultimately leaving the reader with a sense of awe and wonder at the mystery of God. Dickinson's work continues to resonate with contemporary readers, reminding us of the enduring power of poetry to illuminate the deepest aspects of the human experience.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

I Live with Him—I see His face: A Poem by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works have been studied and analyzed by scholars and literature enthusiasts for decades. One of her most famous poems is "I Live with Him—I see His face," a short but powerful piece that explores themes of love, devotion, and spirituality. In this article, we will take a closer look at this classic poem and analyze its meaning and significance.

The poem begins with the line "I live with Him—I see His face," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The speaker is clearly referring to someone who is very important to them, someone they live with and see every day. However, the identity of this person is not immediately clear. Is it a lover? A family member? A friend? The ambiguity of this line is intentional, as it allows the reader to project their own experiences and relationships onto the poem.

The second line of the poem, "I go no more away," reinforces the idea that the speaker is deeply committed to this person. They have no desire to leave or be apart from them, and their devotion is unwavering. This line also hints at a sense of permanence, as if the speaker and this person are bound together for eternity.

The third line of the poem, "For they are all here with me," is where things start to get interesting. The speaker is not alone with this person; there are others present as well. However, the use of the word "they" is somewhat ambiguous. Are these other people physical beings, or are they spiritual entities? Are they friends and family members, or are they angels or other divine beings? Again, the poem leaves this open to interpretation.

The fourth line of the poem, "He and I by He and I," is perhaps the most enigmatic. Who is "He"? Is it the same person the speaker has been referring to all along, or is it someone else entirely? And what does it mean to be "by He and I"? Is this a reference to a physical location, or is it a metaphorical statement about the speaker's relationship with this person?

As we move into the second stanza of the poem, things become even more abstract. The first line, "None stir the second time," seems to suggest that the speaker and this person are alone in their experience. Whatever has happened between them is unique and cannot be replicated. The second line, "On whom I lay a Yellow Eye," is a striking image that conjures up a sense of intensity and focus. The speaker is fixated on this person, and their gaze is unyielding.

The third line of the second stanza, "Or an emphatic Thumb," is perhaps the most puzzling. What does it mean to lay an "emphatic Thumb" on someone? Is this a gesture of affection, or is it something more forceful? The ambiguity of this line is intentional, as it adds to the overall sense of mystery and intrigue that permeates the poem.

The final line of the poem, "Languidly tilting," is a beautiful image that suggests a sense of ease and relaxation. The speaker and this person are at peace with each other, and their relationship is one of comfort and familiarity. However, the word "languidly" also suggests a sense of lethargy or laziness, which adds a layer of complexity to the poem. Is the speaker content with their relationship, or are they simply resigned to it?

Overall, "I Live with Him—I see His face" is a complex and multi-layered poem that explores themes of love, devotion, and spirituality. The ambiguity of the language and imagery allows the reader to project their own experiences and emotions onto the poem, making it a deeply personal and resonant work of art. Emily Dickinson was a master of the written word, and this poem is a testament to her skill and creativity.

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