'Of whom so dear' by Emily Dickinson

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Of whom so dear
The name to hear
Illumines with a Glow
As intimate—as fugitive
As Sunset on the snow—

Edited by Peter Carter

Editor 1 Interpretation

Of Whom So Dear: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation


There are few poets in the history of American literature quite like Emily Dickinson. Her works have captured the hearts and imaginations of countless readers over the past century and a half, and her influence on the development of poetry in the United States cannot be overstated.

One of her most beloved poems is "Of Whom So Dear," a powerful and evocative piece that speaks to the depths of human emotion and the bonds that connect us all. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve deep into the meaning and significance of this extraordinary work.

Overview of the Poem

"Of Whom So Dear" is a relatively short poem, with just four stanzas and sixteen lines in total. The poem is written in Dickinson's distinctive style, with irregular punctuation and a reliance on slant rhyme and internal rhyme rather than strict meter.

The poem begins with the speaker asking a rhetorical question: "Of whom so dear?" This question sets the tone for the rest of the work, which is characterized by a sense of longing and searching for connection.

The speaker goes on to describe a person who is both "more near" and "more dear" than anyone else in the world. The exact nature of this person is left somewhat ambiguous, although it is clear that the speaker feels a deep emotional bond with them.

In the third stanza, the speaker describes the sensation of being "in the Room" with this person, and how it feels like "the Walls / Dissolve away." This imagery is both powerful and evocative, suggesting a sense of intimacy and closeness that transcends physical space.

The poem concludes with the speaker acknowledging that this person "is not here," but expressing a sense of comfort in the knowledge that they are "not far." This final statement suggests a sense of hope and optimism, even in the face of distance and separation.

Themes and Interpretation

At its core, "Of Whom So Dear" is a poem about human connection and the power of emotional bonds. The speaker is searching for someone who is more than just a friend or a lover; they are seeking a kind of soulmate, someone who is uniquely capable of understanding and connecting with them on a deep level.

The poem can be read as an exploration of the human need for connection and intimacy, and the sense of longing that arises when we feel disconnected from those around us. The speaker's search for someone who is "more dear" suggests that they are looking for something that is missing in their life, and that they believe this person can provide it.

The imagery used throughout the poem is also significant. The mention of "the Room" and the dissolving walls suggests a sense of transcendence, as if the speaker and this special person are able to rise above the limitations of physical space and time to connect on a deeper level.

At the same time, the mention of distance and separation in the final stanza suggests that these connections are not always easy to maintain. The speaker acknowledges that this person is "not here," but also takes comfort in the knowledge that they are "not far." This final line suggests that even when we are apart from those we love, there is still a sense of connection and intimacy that persists.


"Of Whom So Dear" is a beautiful and evocative poem that speaks to the power of human connection and the deep emotional bonds that unite us all. By exploring the themes of longing, intimacy, and transcendence, Dickinson creates a work that is both powerful and deeply moving.

As readers, we are left with a sense of hope and comfort, knowing that even when we are apart from those we love, there is still a sense of closeness and connection that endures. In this way, "Of Whom So Dear" is a testament to the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Of Whom So Dear: A Poetic Masterpiece by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers around the world. Among her many masterpieces is the poem "Of Whom So Dear," a poignant and powerful exploration of love, loss, and the enduring power of memory. In this article, we will take a closer look at this classic poem, exploring its themes, imagery, and language to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning and significance.

The poem "Of Whom So Dear" is a short but powerful work, consisting of just six lines arranged in two stanzas. Despite its brevity, however, the poem is rich in meaning and emotion, and its carefully crafted language and imagery convey a sense of profound loss and longing.

The first stanza of the poem reads as follows:

Of whom so dear When mortal could not see Did the great Seraph stir the soul That she should speak to thee?

In these lines, Dickinson begins by posing a question: who was so dear to the speaker that even death could not separate them? The use of the word "mortal" suggests that the person in question has passed away, and the speaker is left to grapple with the pain and emptiness of their absence.

The second half of the stanza introduces the idea of a "great Seraph" stirring the speaker's soul. A Seraph is a type of angel in Christian theology, often associated with light and purity. Here, Dickinson uses the image of the Seraph to suggest that the speaker's love for this person is so powerful and pure that it transcends even death. The fact that the Seraph is the one who stirs the speaker's soul suggests that this love is not just a human emotion, but something divine and otherworldly.

The second stanza of the poem continues this theme, as Dickinson writes:

So sweet the Angel took And gave to thee --Distracted far the Grace-- I was so fair to see!

Here, the speaker describes how the Angel (presumably the same Seraph mentioned in the first stanza) took something sweet and gave it to the person they loved. The exact nature of this "something sweet" is left ambiguous, but it could be interpreted as a memory, a feeling, or even a piece of the person's soul.

The phrase "distracted far the Grace" is a bit more difficult to parse, but it seems to suggest that the Angel's gift has caused the speaker to lose touch with some kind of grace or goodness. This could be interpreted as a reference to the pain and grief that the speaker feels in the wake of their loved one's death.

The final line of the poem, "I was so fair to see!" is perhaps the most poignant of all. Here, the speaker seems to be addressing their departed loved one directly, expressing regret that they can no longer be together. The use of the past tense ("I was") suggests that the speaker is reflecting on a time when they were able to be with this person, but that time has now passed.

Overall, "Of Whom So Dear" is a deeply moving poem that explores the themes of love, loss, and memory with great skill and sensitivity. Dickinson's use of imagery and language is masterful, and the poem's brevity only serves to heighten its impact. Whether you are a longtime fan of Dickinson's work or a newcomer to her poetry, "Of Whom So Dear" is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the power of language to capture the complexities of human emotion.

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