It was not death, for I stood up,
And all the dead lie down.
It was not night, for all the bells
Put out their tongues for noon.
It was not frost, for on my flesh
I felt siroccos crawl,
Nor fire, for just my marble feet
Could keep a chancel cool.
And yet it tasted like them all,
The figures I have seen
Set orderly for burial
Reminded me of mine,
As if my life were shaven
And fitted to a frame
And could not breathe without a key,
And ’twas like midnight, some,
When everything that ticked has stopped
And space stares all around,
Or grisly frosts, first autumn morns,
Repeal the beating ground;
But most like chaos, stopless, cool,
Without a chance, or spar,
Or even a report of land
To justify despair.
Original Text: The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, edited by R. W. Franklin in volumes (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1981; PS 1541 A1 1981 ROBA): I, 367-68 (fascicle 17).
First Publication Date: 1891. Representative Poetry On-line: Editor, I. Lancashire; Publisher, Web Development Group, Inf. Tech. Services, Univ. of Toronto Lib. Edition: RPO 1997. © I. Lancashire, Dept. of English (Univ. of Toronto), and Univ. of Toronto Press 1997.