Poetic Memorial by Emily Dickinson

Ever since poetry originated, poets have faced the emotion of grief. Such a personal emotion has mystified and overwhelmed the greatest of minds and the greatest of poets.

Emily Dickinson's tribute is among the most popular memorial tributes. In the poem, Dickinson seems to want to understand more, to grasp the sadness around her but can only admire the permanency of feelings shared for departed friends.

In a measure of grief, Emily Dickinson points to the individuality of the grieving experience.

By Emily Dickinson

I measure every grief...

I measure every grief I meet
With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
Or has an easier size.

I wonder if they bore it long,
Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine,
It feels so old a pain.

I wonder if it hurts to live,
And if they have to try,
And whether, could they choose between,
They would not rather die.

I wonder if when years have piled--
Some thousands--on the cause
Of early hurt, if such a lapse
Could give them any pause;

Or would they go on aching still
Through centuries above,
Enlightened to a larger pain
By contrast with the love.

The grieved are many, I am told;
The reason deeper lies,--
Death is but one and comes but once
And only nails the eyes.

There's grief of want, and grief of cold,--
A sort they call 'despair,'
There's banishment from native eyes,
In sight of native air.

And though I may not guess the kind
Correctly yet to me
A piercing comfort it affords
In passing Calvary,

To note the fashions of the cross
Of those that stand alone
Still fascinated to presume
That some are like my own.

Our Wishing Well