'To their apartment deep' by Emily Dickinson

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The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson????1701To their apartment deep
No ribaldry may creep
Untumbled this abode
By any man but God-

Editor 1 Interpretation

To Their Apartment Deep by Emily Dickinson: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Emily Dickinson is one of the most renowned poets of all time, and her works continue to captivate readers with their depth, intensity, and intricate symbolism. Among her many masterpieces is the poem, "To Their Apartment Deep," which is a stunning exploration of the human experience in relation to nature, time, and transcendence. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve deep into the hidden meanings and themes of the poem, exploring its symbolism, structure, and literary techniques.

The Poem

Before we begin our analysis, let us read the poem in full:

To their apartment deep Little Boys and Girls May not weep— Strong men tremble lest They should be taken in And never rise again—

Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.


The first thing that strikes us about this poem is its rich symbolism, which Dickinson uses to create a complex and multi-layered work of art. The "apartment deep" that the poem refers to is a clear metaphor for the natural world, particularly the depths of the sea or the earth. This is evident from the use of the word "apartment," which implies a dwelling place or home, and "deep," which suggests something vast, mysterious, and impenetrable.

The next symbol we encounter is that of "Little Boys and Girls," who represent innocence, vulnerability, and purity. They are contrasted with "Strong men," who symbolize power, control, and domination. The fact that the former "may not weep" suggests that they are protected by some form of divine grace, while the latter "tremble lest / They should be taken in / And never rise again" implies that they are aware of their mortality and fear the unknown.

Another important symbol in the poem is that of "time," which is hinted at in the phrase "never rise again." Time is a central theme in Dickinson's work, and here it is used to highlight the transience and fragility of human life. The fact that even strong men can be taken in by the deep suggests that time is more powerful than even the most formidable forces of nature.

Finally, there is the symbol of "transcendence," which is implied in the poem's title. "To Their Apartment Deep" suggests a movement towards something beyond our everyday reality, a journey into the depths of the unconscious or the spiritual. This is a common theme in Dickinson's poetry, and here it is used to suggest the possibility of a higher form of existence beyond the confines of this world.


The structure of the poem is also significant, as it reflects the themes and symbols that are present in the text. The use of short, simple lines and a regular meter creates a sense of order and stability, while the use of enjambment (the continuation of a sentence or clause over a line break) creates a sense of fluidity and movement.

The repetition of the word "deep" is also significant, as it creates a sense of depth and complexity that mirrors the subject matter of the poem. The fact that the poem is only four lines long creates a sense of brevity and concision, suggesting that Dickinson is trying to convey a complex concept in a simple and direct way.

Literary Techniques

Finally, it is worth considering some of the literary techniques that Dickinson employs in the poem. One of the most interesting is the use of paradox, which is evident in the juxtaposition of "Little Boys and Girls" with "Strong men." This creates a sense of tension and irony, as the poem suggests that even the most vulnerable and innocent among us may be protected by some higher power, while the most powerful and dominant may be subject to the whims of fate.

Another interesting technique is the use of imagery, which is particularly effective in creating a sense of the mysterious and the unknown. The phrase "apartment deep" is an example of this, as it suggests a world that is both familiar and unfamiliar, both known and unknown.


In conclusion, "To Their Apartment Deep" is a stunning work of poetry that explores the human experience in relation to nature, time, and transcendence. Through its use of rich symbolism, effective structure, and intricate literary techniques, it creates a sense of depth and complexity that is both captivating and thought-provoking. As with all of Dickinson's work, it invites us to explore the mysteries of the human condition and to consider the possibilities that lie beyond our everyday reality.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry To Their Apartment Deep: A Deep Dive into Emily Dickinson's Masterpiece

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers to this day. Among her many masterpieces is the poem "To their apartment deep," a haunting and evocative piece that explores themes of love, loss, and the passage of time. In this article, we will take a deep dive into this classic poem, examining its structure, language, and meaning to gain a deeper understanding of Dickinson's artistry.

Structure and Form

One of the first things that strikes the reader about "To their apartment deep" is its unique structure and form. The poem is composed of three stanzas, each containing four lines. However, the lines themselves are not uniform in length, with some being much shorter than others. This creates a sense of irregularity and unpredictability, as the reader is never quite sure what to expect from one line to the next.

The poem is also notable for its use of rhyme and meter. Each stanza follows an ABAB rhyme scheme, with the first and third lines rhyming with each other, and the second and fourth lines rhyming with each other. However, the meter is less consistent, with some lines containing four stressed syllables and others containing only two. This creates a sense of tension and unease, as the poem seems to be constantly shifting and evolving.

Language and Imagery

Dickinson's use of language and imagery in "To their apartment deep" is nothing short of masterful. The poem is filled with vivid and evocative descriptions that bring the setting and characters to life in the reader's mind. For example, the opening line of the poem, "To their apartment deep," immediately conjures up an image of a dark and mysterious place, perhaps a basement or cellar. This sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is filled with images of darkness, shadows, and hidden secrets.

Another striking aspect of the poem is its use of metaphor and symbolism. The "they" referred to in the poem are never explicitly identified, but it is clear that they are a couple who have shared a deep and intimate connection. The apartment they share is described as "deep," suggesting that it is a place of great emotional significance. The "shadows" that "creep" across the floor are a metaphor for the passage of time, and the "dust" that "gathers" on the furniture represents the accumulation of memories and experiences.

Meaning and Interpretation

So what is the deeper meaning behind "To their apartment deep"? At its core, the poem is a meditation on the fleeting nature of love and the inevitability of loss. The couple in the poem have shared a deep and meaningful connection, but time has taken its toll on their relationship. The shadows and dust that fill their apartment are a reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that even the strongest bonds can be eroded by the passage of time.

However, there is also a sense of hope and resilience in the poem. Despite the inevitability of loss, the couple's love for each other endures. The final lines of the poem, "And still their love abides / Though all the house beside / Is dark with shadows and dust," suggest that even in the face of darkness and decay, love can still shine through.


"To their apartment deep" is a masterpiece of poetry, filled with rich language, vivid imagery, and deep meaning. Through its unique structure and form, Dickinson creates a sense of tension and unease that perfectly captures the themes of love and loss that run throughout the poem. By exploring the deeper meaning behind the poem, we gain a greater appreciation for Dickinson's artistry and the enduring power of her work.

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