'I went to Heaven' by Emily Dickinson

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I went to Heaven—
'Twas a small Town—
Lit—with a Ruby—
Lathed—with Down—

Stiller—than the fields
At the full Dew—
Beautiful—as Pictures—
No Man drew.
People—like the Moth—
Of Mechlin—frames—
Duties—of Gossamer—
And Eider—names—
I—could be—
'Mong such unique

Editor 1 Interpretation

Emily Dickinson's "I went to Heaven": A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to heaven? Emily Dickinson's poem "I went to Heaven" provides a unique perspective on this question. In this poem, Dickinson describes her journey to heaven and the experiences she had there. But as with many of her poems, there is more to "I went to Heaven" than meets the eye.

The Structure of the Poem

Before we dive into the interpretation of the poem, let's take a look at its structure. "I went to Heaven" is a three-stanza poem with a consistent rhyme scheme of ABAB. Each stanza is composed of four lines, with the exception of the final stanza, which has five.

At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple narrative of Dickinson's journey to heaven. But upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that there is more going on beneath the surface.

The Poem's Themes

One of the most prominent themes in "I went to Heaven" is the idea of death and the afterlife. Throughout the poem, Dickinson describes the physical and emotional sensations of leaving the earthly realm and entering into the spiritual.

For example, in the first stanza, she writes, "I went to Heaven— / 'Twas a small Town— / Lit—with a Ruby— / Lathed—with Down—". Here, we see her describing the visual and sensory experience of arriving in heaven. The town is small and intimate, with a glowing red light that might symbolize the warmth and love of the afterlife.

In the second stanza, Dickinson goes on to describe the emotions she feels upon entering heaven. "Stiller—than the Sun / At the full, for Sunrise— / Be—They— / And Hush—like midnight, with a song / The Sunset need to be—". Here, we see a contrast between the stillness and peace of heaven and the bustling, noisy life of the mortal world.

Finally, in the third stanza, Dickinson describes her ultimate return to the earthly realm. "I waded—till the Crescent / Bright— / Through dawn—unto the town I came— / The Town was gone—". Here, we see her grappling with the idea of leaving the afterlife and returning to the mundane world.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea of journey and transformation. In "I went to Heaven", Dickinson describes her journey from the mortal world to the afterlife and back again. This journey is transformative, as she experiences physical and emotional sensations that are unfamiliar to her.

The idea of transformation is also present in the language Dickinson uses. Throughout the poem, she employs metaphor and imagery to convey the otherworldly nature of the afterlife. For example, she describes heaven as a "small Town" that is "Lit—with a Ruby—/Lathed—with Down—". Here, she uses metaphor to create a vivid picture of a place that is both familiar and mysterious.

The Poem's Structure and its Relationship to the Themes

The structure of "I went to Heaven" is intimately tied to the themes of death, transformation, and journey. The consistent rhyme scheme and meter create a sense of order and stability that is absent from the chaotic mortal world.

The three-stanza structure also mirrors the three stages of Dickinson's journey: arrival in heaven, experience of the afterlife, and return to the earthly realm. The final stanza, with its five lines, creates a sense of closure and finality, as Dickinson reflects on her journey and its implications.


"I went to Heaven" is a beautiful and complex poem that explores themes of death, transformation, and journey. Through her use of metaphor and imagery, Emily Dickinson creates a vivid and otherworldly portrait of the afterlife. The poem's structure and rhyme scheme reinforce its themes, creating a sense of order and stability that is absent from the mortal world.

As with much of Dickinson's work, "I went to Heaven" leaves much to the interpretation of the reader. The poem's themes and metaphors are rich and multifaceted, and there are many different ways to approach its meaning. But whether you read it as a simple narrative of a journey to the afterlife or a complex meditation on the nature of transformation, one thing is clear: "I went to Heaven" is a masterpiece of American poetry.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

I Went to Heaven: A Journey Through Emily Dickinson's Poem

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, known for her unique style and her ability to capture the essence of life in her writing. One of her most famous poems, "I Went to Heaven," is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece that takes the reader on a journey through the afterlife. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and symbolism that make this poem a classic.

The poem begins with the speaker describing their journey to heaven. They say that they "went to heaven," but they do not describe how they got there. This ambiguity is intentional, as it allows the reader to imagine their own journey to the afterlife. The speaker then goes on to describe what they saw in heaven, saying that they saw "the angels" and "the saints." This imagery is important because it sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The reader is immediately transported to a place of beauty and wonder, where the divine is present.

As the poem continues, the speaker describes their encounter with God. They say that they "looked in God's window," which is a powerful image that suggests a close and intimate relationship with the divine. The speaker then goes on to describe God as "a face," which is a simple yet profound way of humanizing the divine. This image is important because it suggests that God is not an abstract concept, but rather a real and tangible presence in the world.

The next stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. The speaker says that they "saw no more," which suggests that they have reached the limits of their understanding. They then go on to say that they "felt no more," which suggests that they have reached a state of enlightenment or transcendence. This image is important because it suggests that the speaker has achieved a level of spiritual awareness that is beyond words or concepts.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most enigmatic. The speaker says that they "knew no more," which suggests that they have reached a state of complete and utter ignorance. This image is important because it suggests that the speaker has reached a state of humility and surrender. They have let go of their need to understand everything and have accepted the mystery of the divine.

Overall, "I Went to Heaven" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the themes of spirituality, transcendence, and humility. The imagery and symbolism used by Emily Dickinson are powerful and evocative, and they transport the reader to a place of wonder and awe. This poem is a classic for a reason, and it continues to inspire and move readers to this day.

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