Ample make this Bed —
Make this Bed with Awe —
In it wait till Judgment break
Excellent and Fair.

Be its Mattress straight —
Be its Pillow round —
Let no Sunrise’ yellow noise
Interrupt this Ground —

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem Ample make this Bed —


  1. John says:

    This is a very simple poem to me. Natural and easy. Emily Dickinson was judged in her life for her (lack of) religious beliefs. Sophie faced an impossible life and chose to escape. I must not judge either.

  2. Nancy Carr says:

    I forgot to include that Stango realized it was not judgement day for him but another morning excellent and fair.

  3. Patty Leeper says:

    When I die, this is what I want on my grave stone.

  4. jdbates says:

    To me, the way I interpret the poem, is as a eulegy! Sophies choice is the next movie I will watch!

  5. MIchael McNamara says:

    A great and powerful ending to any movie, book or story is a rare treasure. In my opinion there are only a handful of films that have what I would call “great great endings”. Sophie’s Choice is one of them. A River Runs Thru It is another. Sophies’s Choice hits a perfect pitch of simple but powerful words, thanks to Ms. Dickinson – great music and great performances, all elegantly brought together at this deeply touching moment in the film. It never fails to leave me silent, humble and in awe. It is a treasure.

  6. jim carr says:

    a simple,powerful,beautiful poem which added to an already wonderful film. even this sad,cynical man was moved. great poetry will always say more than pop songs,and out last even the best of them.

  7. Cynthia says:

    1955 was probably the date that the book was published. Collections of poems by Emily Dickinson continue to be published even today. It doesn’t mean the she actually wrote the poem in 1955. For Pete’s sake.

  8. Tom Forster says:

    I also discovered this lovely poem from the book/film, Sophie’s Choice. I did not understand it at first – I tried to read too much into it… however, Dickenson is very plain and direct so it should be read that way… it was such a perfect way to end the tragic story.

  9. Elva Croswell says:

    “Ample Make This Bed” is one of thousands of poems written by Emily Dickinson,during her lifetime (1830 – 1886. I am sure that the 1955 date is a typographical error. The poem is at once heart – rending and demanding. Dickinson insists that death, the dead and dying be acknowledged. She reaffirms her belief in resurrection, new life, and hope for salvation on “that great gettin’ up morning!”

  10. Pontus Kjällman says:

    It is very nice to see that other persons also were moved by this poem, especially in Sophie’s choice. Before I came here I was reading it, with Hamlisch outstanding love-theme from the film on repeat in my earphones. Is anyone surprised if I say that I was crying…

    The poem is wonderful, the film is wonderful and the music too. Even the book is a masterpiece… This is truly one of the brightest shining intersections in culture ever…

  11. Robin says:

    As to why they chose an Emily Dickinson poem in Sophie’s Choice, there is a crucial scene in the book (and movie) where Sophie, newly arrived in NYC from Poland, hears a some of Dickinson’s poetry from her English language teacher. She goes to the big, imposing library, and asks in her newly-acquired English where are books for the 19th Century American poet “Emile Dickens.” The nasty, superior library clerk tells her there is no Emile Dickens who is an American poet. Charles Dickens, he tells her, was a 19th Century British novelist. Unable to make herself understood, and having been cruelly mocked by this man (as well as undernourished), she faints on the library floor. This is when Nathan, her lover, first sees her, takes her home to his house, and takes care of her, feeds her.

    As to why this poem was used by the author (Styron), it is particularly lovely, and expresses the solemn mood at the time; it is a blessing upon the dead lovers as they lay in their suicide bed. Stingo thinks about how cruel and tragic both Sophie’s and Nathan’s lives were, and how much more they should hope for in death. The metaphor of the bed as grave works perfectly. And it also segues into Stingo’s reaffirmation with life. That there is no judgment day on earth (we know because of the atrocities by the Nazi’s, including Sophie to make her choice), and the sheer unfairness of Nathan, a genius, to be saddled by his mental illness. It is a plaintive and redeeming ending that even after all of this, there could still be a “Morning, excellent and fair.”

    • Nancy Carr says:

      I enjoyed your excellent synopsis of Sofia’s Choice except for the hope for much better in death. Sofie expressed her loss of faith when the Nazi’s were allowed to kill such wonderful people and Nathan could not bear that the Nazi’s were not being punished. Suicide was the release from pain and suffering that they and so many others endured, Suicide was the loss of all hope.

  12. Gianna Segatto says:

    Just wanted to say that the poem can hardly be written in 1955 since Dickinson died in 1886 😉

    Stil, “ample make this bed” is really one of the most touching poems I’ve ever read and it’s just amazing how well it fits “Sophie’s choice”. You could really think it was written only for the movie (better:the book).

  13. Jane Legg says:

    I too listened to this poem while watching Sophie’s Choice. I wondered why they chose Emily Dickinson and why this particular poem. I too feel that there must be more. Interestingly the movie is set in 1947 the poem written in 1955. Puzzling.

  14. Trudi Stridborg says:

    I loved this poem in the movie, “Sophie’s Choice.” I am wondering if there are more lines to it than those which appear here. I would like to have the entire poem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Emily Dickinson better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.