'The last Night that She lived' by Emily Dickinson

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The last Night that She lived
It was a Common Night
Except the Dying-this to Us
Made Nature differentWe noticed smallest things-
Things overlooked before
By this great light upon our Minds
Italicized-as 'twere.As We went out and in
Between Her final Room
And Rooms where Those to be alive
Tomorrow were, a BlameThat Others could exist
While She must finish quite
A Jealousy for Her arose
So nearly infinite-We waited while She passed-
It was a narrow time-
Too jostled were Our Souls to speak
At length the notice came.She mentioned, and forgot-
Then lightly as a Reed
Bent to the Water, struggled scarce-
Consented, and was dead-And We-We placed the Hair-
And drew the Head erect-
And then an awful leisure was
Belief to regulate-

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Last Night That She Lived by Emily Dickinson

Oh, what a powerful and haunting piece of poetry Emily Dickinson's "The Last Night That She Lived" is! This poem is just one of many that shows the author's fascination with death, and her ability to express complex emotions and thoughts on the subject in such a concise and evocative way.

In this 16-line poem, Dickinson tells the story of a person's last night on earth, and how their loved ones come to terms with their impending demise. The poem is rife with symbolism and vivid imagery, and it explores themes such as the fragility of life, the inevitability of death, and the importance of memory and legacy.

The Structure of the Poem

One of the first things that struck me about "The Last Night That She Lived" was the way that Dickinson structured the poem. It is divided into four quatrains, each with an ABAB rhyme scheme. This structure gives the poem a sense of order and symmetry, which contrasts with the chaotic emotions that the speaker is feeling.

The poem also follows a strict iambic tetrameter, which adds to the sense of rhythm and order. However, Dickinson uses enjambment throughout the poem, which disrupts the flow of the poem and creates a sense of urgency and unease.

The Imagery of the Poem

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is the vivid imagery that Dickinson uses to describe the last night of the dying person. The first stanza sets the scene and introduces the first image: "The last night that she lived / It was a common night / Except the dying." This line immediately creates a sense of tension and unease, as the reader is aware that something significant is about to happen.

The second stanza introduces the image of the dying person's bed, which becomes a central symbol throughout the poem. Dickinson describes the bed as "a different way / A foam for an instant / Then solid as the grave," which creates a stark contrast between the softness of the foam and the finality of the grave.

In the third stanza, Dickinson introduces the image of the dying person's breath, which becomes a metaphor for the fragility of life. She describes the breath as "a little bridge / Given us of Death's own fords," which suggests that the dying person is crossing over into the realm of death.

Finally, in the fourth stanza, Dickinson introduces the image of the dying person's loved ones gathered around the bed. She describes them as "the friends / That love had left behind," which suggests that love is not enough to save the dying person from death.

The Themes of the Poem

"The Last Night That She Lived" explores a number of themes that are central to Dickinson's work. The first theme is the fragility of life. Throughout the poem, Dickinson uses imagery and metaphor to suggest that life is fleeting and fragile, and that death is always lurking in the background.

The second theme is the inevitability of death. Dickinson suggests that death is an unavoidable part of life, and that we must all come to terms with our own mortality. She also suggests that death is not something to be feared, but rather something to be accepted as a natural part of life.

Finally, the poem explores the importance of memory and legacy. Dickinson suggests that the dying person's memory will live on after they are gone, and that their loved ones will continue to hold them in their hearts. She also suggests that the dying person's legacy will be determined by the way that they lived their life, and the impact that they had on those around them.


In conclusion, "The Last Night That She Lived" is a powerful and haunting poem that explores a number of themes that are central to Dickinson's work. Through vivid imagery and metaphor, Dickinson creates a sense of urgency and unease that captures the reader's attention and draws them into the world of the dying person and their loved ones. Overall, this is a masterful poem that showcases Dickinson's skill as a poet and her unique perspective on death and dying.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Last Night that She Lived: A Masterpiece of Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers even today. Among her many masterpieces, "The Last Night that She Lived" stands out as a haunting and poignant reflection on mortality and the fleeting nature of life. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of this classic poem, and uncover the deeper meanings that lie beneath its surface.

The poem begins with a stark and simple statement: "The last night that she lived, / It was a common night, / Except the dying." This opening sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is marked by a sense of inevitability and finality. The speaker describes the scene of the dying woman's room, with its "frugal cheer" and "dimity" curtains, and notes the presence of the doctor and the family members who have gathered to witness her passing. The language here is spare and unadorned, but it conveys a sense of quiet solemnity and reverence for the moment.

As the poem progresses, the speaker reflects on the various emotions and thoughts that must have been going through the dying woman's mind. She imagines the woman looking back on her life and regretting the things she did not do, the words she did not say, and the love she did not give. The speaker also imagines the woman feeling a sense of fear and uncertainty as she faces the unknown realm of death. The language here is rich and evocative, with images of "the last redoubt of life" and "the last onset when the king / Be witnessed in his power."

Throughout the poem, Dickinson uses a variety of poetic devices to convey her themes and ideas. One of the most striking is her use of imagery, which is often vivid and powerful. For example, in the second stanza, she describes the dying woman's room as "a chamber prepared for her head" and notes the "dimity" curtains that "closed upon that last repose." These images create a sense of intimacy and closeness, as if the reader is being allowed into the private world of the dying woman.

Another important device that Dickinson uses is repetition. Throughout the poem, she repeats certain phrases and words, such as "the last night," "the dying," and "the king." This repetition creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, as if the poem is building towards a climactic moment. It also reinforces the themes of finality and inevitability that run throughout the poem.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of "The Last Night that She Lived" is its exploration of the human experience of death. Dickinson does not shy away from the difficult emotions and thoughts that arise when we confront our own mortality. Instead, she confronts them head-on, and in doing so, she creates a poem that is both deeply moving and profoundly insightful. Through her words, we are reminded of the fragility of life, the importance of love and connection, and the ultimate mystery of death.

In conclusion, "The Last Night that She Lived" is a masterpiece of poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of mortality, love, and regret are universal, and its language and imagery are both powerful and evocative. Emily Dickinson was a poet of rare talent and insight, and this poem is a testament to her genius. Whether you are a longtime fan of her work or a newcomer to her poetry, "The Last Night that She Lived" is a must-read for anyone who wants to explore the depths of the human experience.

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