Poem introduction

Emily Dickinson was famously depressed but maybe more than that she was eloquently depressed. Her perfect descriptions of despair predate modern psychiatric diagnoses and yet it's remarkably similar. In some poems her depression makes her hate spring – the bees, the piercing yellow of flowers; but in this poem it's winter that has her down.

There's a certain Slant of light

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
 
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
 
None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
 
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

Sponsor this poem

Would you like to sponsor this poem? Find out how here.

Recordings