'Tho' I get home how late—how late' by Emily Dickinson

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Tho' I get home how late—how late—
So I get home - 'twill compensate—
Better will be the Ecstasy
That they have done expecting me—
When Night—descending—dumb—and dark—
They hear my unexpected knock—
Transporting must the moment be—
Brewed from decades of Agony!

To think just how the fire will burn—
Just how long-cheated eyes will turn—
To wonder what myself will say,
And what itself, will say to me—
Beguiles the Centuries of way!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Tho' I get home how late—how late by Emily Dickinson

Oh, what a beautiful poem! I cannot help but marvel at the depth of Emily Dickinson's writing. "Tho' I get home how late—how late" is one of her most popular poems, and it is not hard to see why. This poem is a perfect representation of the writer's thoughts and emotions concerning life and death. In this literary criticism, we will delve deeper into the poem to gain a better understanding of its meaning and significance.

Background Information

Emily Dickinson was an American poet, born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is known for her unique writing style, which is characterized by its unconventional punctuation, syntax, and capitalization. Dickinson's poems are often short, but they are packed with meaning and depth, making her one of the most revered poets in American literature. She spent most of her life as a recluse, which allowed her to devote most of her time to writing poetry. She died in 1886, and much of her work was published posthumously.

Literary Devices

Before we dive into the interpretation of the poem, let us take a moment to examine the literary devices used in the poem. These devices include:


Now that we have a better understanding of the literary devices used in the poem, let us delve into its interpretation.

The poem begins with the speaker acknowledging that life is a journey that we all must take. The line "Tho' I get home how late—how late" suggests that the speaker has been on this journey for a long time and is finally nearing the end of it. The repeated use of "how late" emphasizes the speaker's exhaustion and weariness.

The second stanza further emphasizes the speaker's exhaustion. The line "And so to bed" suggests that the speaker is ready to rest and sleep. However, the next line, "But restless with the darkness," shows that the speaker is still struggling to find peace even in the comfort of their own bed. The personification of sleep in the line "And I, I know not if to sleep" further emphasizes the speaker's struggle to find peace and rest.

The third stanza of the poem is where the speaker begins to contemplate the end of their journey. The line "How far is it to Death?" suggests that the speaker is aware that death is the ultimate end of their journey. The use of the metaphor "And was I tired, and was it cold" suggests that death is a journey that is both tiring and cold. The line "And some—would be returning," suggests that some people may have the opportunity to return from this journey, while others may not.

In the final stanza of the poem, the speaker acknowledges that they may not have much time left on their journey. The line "And some—to Heaven departing" suggests that the speaker believes in an afterlife and that they may be departing to heaven soon. The final line, "And some—are never gone," suggests that even though some people may have passed away, they are still present in the memories of those who knew them.


In conclusion, "Tho' I get home how late—how late" is a beautiful poem that explores the journey of life and death. Through her use of metaphor, imagery, repetition, and personification, Emily Dickinson brings the journey to life and makes it relatable to her readers. The poem is a reminder that life is short and that we should cherish every moment we have. Dickinson's writing style may be unconventional, but it is this unique style that has made her one of the most beloved poets in American literature. This poem is a testament to her talent and her ability to convey the deepest emotions through her writing.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Tho' I get home how late—how late: A Poem of Hope and Perseverance

Emily Dickinson, one of the most celebrated poets of all time, is known for her unique and unconventional style of writing. Her poems are often short, cryptic, and full of hidden meanings that require careful analysis to unravel. One such poem is "Tho' I get home how late—how late," which is a powerful and inspiring piece that speaks to the human spirit's resilience and determination.

The poem begins with the speaker acknowledging the late hour at which they are returning home. The use of repetition in the first line, "Tho' I get home how late—how late," emphasizes the speaker's exhaustion and weariness after a long day. However, despite the late hour, the speaker remains undeterred and determined to reach their destination.

The second line of the poem, "So I get home—'twill compensate," reveals the speaker's motivation for persevering through the fatigue and exhaustion. The word "compensate" suggests that the speaker's journey is not in vain and that they will be rewarded for their efforts. This line also implies that the speaker's home is a place of comfort and solace, which makes the journey worthwhile.

The third line of the poem, "Better will be the ecstasy," further emphasizes the speaker's anticipation of the reward that awaits them. The word "ecstasy" suggests a feeling of intense joy and pleasure, which the speaker believes will be even greater because of the hardships they have endured to reach their destination.

The fourth and final line of the poem, "So daring in my soul," reveals the speaker's inner strength and courage. The word "daring" suggests that the speaker has overcome obstacles and challenges to reach their destination, and that they have done so with bravery and determination. The phrase "in my soul" suggests that this strength and courage come from within, and that the speaker's spirit is unbreakable.

Overall, "Tho' I get home how late—how late" is a poem that speaks to the human spirit's resilience and determination. It acknowledges the challenges and hardships that we all face in life but encourages us to persevere and remain steadfast in our pursuit of our goals. The poem's use of repetition, imagery, and symbolism creates a powerful and inspiring message that resonates with readers of all ages and backgrounds.

The poem's theme of perseverance and determination is particularly relevant in today's world, where many of us are facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainties. Whether it is the COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, or personal struggles, we all need to find the strength and courage to keep going and never give up.

In conclusion, "Tho' I get home how late—how late" is a classic poem that continues to inspire and uplift readers today. Its message of hope and perseverance is timeless and universal, and it reminds us that no matter how difficult our journey may be, we can always find the strength and courage to keep going. Emily Dickinson's unique and unconventional style of writing has created a masterpiece that will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.

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