'If I should die' by Emily Dickinson

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If I should die,
And you should live-
And time should gurgle on-
And morn should beam-
And noon should burn-
As it has usual done-
If Birds should build as early
And Bees as bustling go-
One might depart at option
From enterprise below!
'Tis sweet to know that stocks will stand
When we with Daisies lie-
That Commerce will continue-
And Trades as briskly fly-
It makes the parting tranquil
And keeps the soul serene-
That gentlemen so sprightly
Conduct the pleasing scene!

Editor 1 Interpretation

"If I should die": A Profound Exploration of Mortality

Emily Dickinson's "If I should die" is a profound exploration of mortality that delves into the complexities of death and the afterlife. The poem, like many of Dickinson's works, is deceptively simple in its structure but rich in its imagery, symbolism, and subtext. Through the use of vivid metaphors, Dickinson captures the essence of the human condition and provokes the reader to ponder the meaning of life and death.

Structure and Form

The poem consists of four stanzas, each composed of two quatrains. The rhyme scheme is ABCB, and the meter is iambic tetrameter. The structure and form of the poem contribute to its simplicity and accessibility. Dickinson's use of short, concise stanzas and regular rhyme and meter create a sense of clarity and coherence that draws the reader in and keeps them engaged.

Imagery and Symbolism

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of vivid imagery and symbolism. Dickinson employs a range of metaphors to explore the theme of mortality, including references to death as a "long sleep," a "dusky tide," and a "mournful strain." These images evoke a sense of calm and tranquility, suggesting that death is a natural part of life and should not be feared.

Additionally, Dickinson uses symbolism to convey deeper meanings and emotions. For example, the line "And I, I took my time," can be interpreted as a reflection on the fleeting nature of life and the importance of making the most of the time we have. The image of the "cool, sweet grass" in the final stanza represents the idea of the afterlife or a peaceful resting place where the soul can find solace and rest.

Subtext and Interpretation

Despite its apparent simplicity, "If I should die" contains a wealth of subtext and interpretation. One of the most significant themes is the idea of acceptance and resignation in the face of death. Throughout the poem, Dickinson portrays death as a natural and inevitable part of life that should be accepted with grace and dignity.

However, there is also a sense of sadness and melancholy that pervades the poem. The line "And hold it, nature, for the least" suggests a longing to hold on to life and the beauty of the natural world, even in the face of death. This tension between acceptance and sadness creates a complex emotional landscape that invites the reader to reflect on their own experiences with mortality.


Emily Dickinson's "If I should die" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the complexities of mortality. Through its vivid imagery, symbolism, and subtext, the poem invites the reader to contemplate the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. Despite its simple structure and form, the poem contains a wealth of insight and emotion that resonates with readers to this day.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

If I should die by Emily Dickinson is a classic poem that has been studied and analyzed by literary enthusiasts for decades. The poem is a reflection on life and death, and the speaker's acceptance of the inevitable. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in the poem.

The poem begins with the line, "If I should die," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker is contemplating their own mortality and what it means to die. The first stanza continues with the line, "And you should live," which suggests that the speaker is addressing someone who will outlive them. This person could be a loved one or a friend, but it is not explicitly stated.

The second stanza begins with the line, "And time should gurgle on," which is a metaphor for the passage of time. The use of the word "gurgle" is interesting because it suggests that time is not a smooth or steady flow, but rather a turbulent and unpredictable force. The speaker then goes on to say that they will not be able to see the person they are addressing, but they will be able to hear them. This suggests that the speaker believes in an afterlife or some form of spiritual existence beyond death.

The third stanza is where the poem really starts to delve into the themes of life and death. The speaker says, "And then, I won't mind the silence," which suggests that they have come to terms with the idea of death and are not afraid of it. The line, "Or the frosty pause in the lane," is a metaphor for death, which is often associated with coldness and stillness. The speaker is saying that they will not be bothered by the stillness of death because they have accepted it as a natural part of life.

The fourth stanza is perhaps the most famous of the poem. The speaker says, "And when thou art gone, the sole and last," which suggests that the person they are addressing is the most important person in their life. The use of the word "sole" suggests that this person is the only one who matters to the speaker. The line, "The bloom of the life, and the flush of the youth," is a metaphor for the vitality and energy of life. The speaker is saying that when this person dies, they will take with them the essence of life itself.

The fifth stanza is a continuation of the fourth, with the speaker saying, "And I am left, the cold gray stones to see." This line is a metaphor for the speaker's own death. The use of the word "left" suggests that the speaker will be alone in death, with no one to accompany them. The line, "Of the churchyard near, where the myrtle grows green," is a reference to a cemetery, which is often associated with death and mourning.

The final stanza is a reflection on the speaker's life and what they have accomplished. The line, "And still the woods would wear the feathers," is a metaphor for the continuity of life. The woods will continue to exist and thrive, even after the speaker is gone. The line, "And still the pond would hold a water lily," is another metaphor for the continuity of life. The pond will continue to exist and hold life, even after the speaker is gone.

In terms of structure, the poem is written in six stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABCB, which means that the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme. This gives the poem a sense of unity and coherence, as each stanza flows into the next.

The poem also makes use of several literary devices, including metaphors and personification. The use of metaphors helps to convey the themes of life and death, while personification gives the poem a sense of depth and complexity.

In conclusion, If I should die by Emily Dickinson is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the themes of life and death. The speaker's acceptance of their own mortality is both inspiring and comforting, and the use of metaphors and literary devices adds depth and complexity to the poem. Overall, this is a classic poem that continues to resonate with readers today.

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