Pain — has an Element of Blank —
It cannot recollect
When it begun — or if there were
A time when it was not —

It has no Future — but itself —
Its Infinite contain
Its Past — enlightened to perceive
New Periods — of Pain.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

10 Comments

  1. Carol says:

    In her book, The Pain Chronicles, author Melanie Thernstrom says that Miss Dickinson meant that pain is unlike anything; it is almost impossible to describe metaphorically. One cannot say Pain is like a this or a that because it is unlike any other thing experienced.

  2. Liron says:

    This poem means that in the moment of pain, everything else in your mind goes away. You are completely in the moment, focusing on the pain. You know nothing but pain in that agonizing moment; not when it began, not if it will continue, nothing. The pains you have felt in the past tell you what is painful in the future, so you can avoid it. I’m surprised that no one who posted got what “Element of Blank” meant, because it popped out at me the first time I read it…

  3. *~Candace~* says:

    It has so much mystery in it. ( Element of Blank ) If only we knew what was goin through her mind the moment she wrote this. I read this poem is English class and I absolutely fell in love with it. You can only see how lonely Emily was. I love the way she said It has no Future–but itself–. She totally speaks the truth in her own way. I write poetry my self and I have to say Emily Dickinson is my role modle!

  4. stephen says:

    this poem is really good.

  5. Stephen V. says:

    This poem radiates extreme sentiments of isolation, despair, as well as loneliness with the tone suggesting an absence of hope and allusions to the perpetuity of pain. However, the greatest aspect of speculation remains in regards to the lack of a proper title implicating her personal failure of self-recognition?

  6. Paige says:

    I think when she says”When it began, or if it were
    A day when it was not”
    Shes saying she has only experienced pain and that she could never remember if she ever felt happiness

  7. ellicul says:

    I think what she means by element of blank is that all she knows is the pain and thats all there is

  8. Natalie says:

    Coming from being in depression for many years, I can tell you simply that this poems means that when you’ve been in pain for so long, you can’t remember a time when you weren’t in pain (“an element of blank”), and you don’t see yourself ever feeling anything but pain.

  9. Jessica says:

    Why does she capitalize some words? Does this have to do with her longing to get away from her “forced” religion? Her father wanted her to believe all of is beliefs, was she tryig to show her frusteration with him in her poems?

  10. Gloria P. says:

    I am still puzzled about what she meant by ‘element of blank,’ but this poem reflects Emily Dickinson’s isolation and loneliness. It seems like she had a great pain in her life. I think what she is trying to say is that there is pain everywhere and everytime. In my opinion, she writes about pain as if she had experienced it a lot and knows thoroughly about pain.

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