“Sic transit gloria mundi,”
“How doth the busy bee,”
“Dum vivimus vivamus,”
I stay mine enemy!

Oh “veni, vidi, vici!”
Oh caput cap-a-pie!
And oh “memento mori”
When I am far from thee!

Hurrah for Peter Parley!
Hurrah for Daniel Boone!
Three cheers, sir, for the gentleman
Who first observed the moon!

Peter, put up the sunshine;
Patti, arrange the stars;
Tell Luna, tea is waiting,
And call your brother Mars!

Put down the apple, Adam,
And come away with me,
So shalt thou have a pippin
From off my father’s tree!

I climb the “Hill of Science,”
I “view the landscape o’er;”
Such transcendental prospect,
I ne’er beheld before!

Unto the Legislature
My country bids me go;
I’ll take my india rubbers,
In case the wind should blow!

During my education,
It was announced to me
That gravitation, stumbling,
Fell from an apple tree!

The earth upon an axis
Was once supposed to turn,
By way of a gymnastic
In honor of the sun!

It was the brave Columbus,
A sailing o’er the tide,
Who notified the nations
Of where I would reside!

Mortality is fatal —
Gentility is fine,
Rascality, heroic,
Insolvency, sublime!

Our Fathers being weary,
Laid down on Bunker Hill;
And tho’ full many a morning,
Yet they are sleeping still, —

The trumpet, sir, shall wake them,
In dreams I see them rise,
Each with a solemn musket
A marching to the skies!

A coward will remain, Sir,
Until the fight is done;
But an immortal hero
Will take his hat, and run!

Good bye, Sir, I am going;
My country calleth me;
Allow me, Sir, at parting,
To wipe my weeping e’e.

In token of our friendship
Accept this “Bonnie Doon,”
And when the hand that plucked it
Hath passed beyond the moon,

The memory of my ashes
Will consolation be;
Then, farewell, Tuscarora,
And farewell, Sir, to thee!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem “Sic transit gloria mundi”


  1. katie says:

    she is AWSOME!!!!!!!!!:)

  2. Juan says:

    I have been thinking about the stanza that I believe is a turning point in the poem and Im trying to interpret the words correctly so that it makes sense (to me) and fits with the rest of the poem which I think I got by now.

    I used Merriam-Webster dictionary online for this and checked some (now) outdated uses of the words, which were the standard at the time Emily Dickison was alive.

    Mortality is fatal
    Gentility is fine,
    Rascality, heroic,
    Insolvency, sublime!

    To me, the word “fatal” is used here as “decreed, controlled, or marked by fate.” We have to die and that will no doubt happen.
    By “gentility” she might be referring to strong and courageous people. Like the ones she has referred to as her heroes.
    When she says “rascality”, I guess that Dickinson is probably thinking of a crowd of people (in this case, fighting together for a common cause.)
    And to me, by “insolvency” she means the deprivation from richness (according to The Bible -if I remember rightly- a rich man will not easily make it to Heaven.)

    It would be awesome to read and ‘see’ what you think. Thank you!

  3. Celest says:

    I too am a fan of the song, Sic Transit Gloria . . . Gloria Fades, by Brand New! At first glance I did not think there was any relation between the two, but if you you look up the Latin words you can make a few connections. This is just my opinion and my thoughts. The song is talking about a boy who is pressured into having sex. I think at first it was something he wanted but was also pressured by his friends. Here comes that phrase, everyone is doing it. In our society today sex is no big deal, but I believe it is supposed to be a sign of covenant between a husband a wife. The Latin phrase, “sic transit gloria mundi” meaning, so passes worldly glory. In a sense I feel the world tells us that it is ok to have multiple sex partners, almost as if your “glorified” for having lots of sex. Although in the poem there is the underlying wisper of “size the day” I think the song is against that, “Die young and save yourself” “memento mori”(remember you are mortal). Maybe its a stretch, but those little bits and pieces jumped out at me. Maybe Brand New just took little parts of the poem to construct their song and maybe they have no idea the poem even exists. Then again if you look at the over all meaning of both, I think they are two different topics.

  4. LJ says:

    Very interesting…but some of the comments posted are
    getting to be as interesting as the poets- except for
    those saying “why aren’t they written in english”. I think some ppl should realise THIS is their “ENGLISH”.

  5. Nick says:

    Hey i am also facinated with the song by a band named Brand New called Sic Transit Gloria…Gloria Fades. I always loved the song for its beat and whispers however i just found the lyrics and figured what it was saying. Wow it is amazing! Finaly someone wrote something about the guy being presured into sex. however, i also was looking deeper and i found this poem and too was wondering if there was any connection with this poem and the song. Thanks.

  6. Genevieve says:

    Thank you Kadan for a wonderfully insightful review. I’m not a studen of Latin, but after your analysis feel I probably should be. I too find the glaring absense of Carpe Diem interesting and wonder if its exclusion might be a comment on the life of a contemplative.

    And Bojana, yes, I was struck by the exact same poetic phrase that you so deftly pointed out – to be interpreted each by their own life’s experiences – yours… freedom. I love the line “Mortality is fatal”. What a wonderful wit Ms. Dickinson!

    Commencing in 1982, I took a few courses from a wonderful professor, Dr. Hastings Moore, at the University of Colorado; the first of which was entitled “Emily Dickinson – An Apophatic Poet”. To this day, I can still cite about 30 of her poems that elucidate simply and beautifully so many TRUTHS.

    The courses, the works, and the concepts provided therein changed my thinking and redirected my life forevermore (a lofty claim to be sure, and one not to be made lightly) – from critical thinking, spiritual ideas, religion, poetry, and living/viewing life from “the circumference”.

    If curious (as a young woman, I was… and still am… curious!), I recommend “The Neighborhood of IS” by Dr. Moore to the seasoned contemplative as well as to anyone filled with curiousity and wonder of the Divine as Emily certainly was. Delve in to the apophatic! Enter the Cloud of Unknowing! Expand your depth and breadth!

  7. karol says:

    i dont think theres any connection between the brand new song and her poem. since the latin part basically means, glory fades, they just kinda put it there in latin. at least..thats my spin on it.

    tho..i must admit thats the reason why i looked at the poem. =P

  8. shiv reddy says:

    i keep returning to this page to read this poem – again and again. after i am thru, i view the comments to see if anybody has anything new to say; and there always is.

  9. bojana miletic says:

    heh..hello to everyone!
    so…emily dickinson…huh…..the words are meaningless when i try to explain whaat kind of emotions emily is producing in me when im reading her poetry. Iwas at age of 16 when i first ahd a chance to meet with her..in my thoughts through hers. Then after reading one book of her, i felt such urge to find everything bout her, what is related with her and stuff. So next thing I found was “Amherst’s beauty” an really extraordinary book, containing one play that was written by emily’s thoughts but put up together from her’s close friend in a way he think thta emily would like to do it. From that moment i was obsessed with thta kind of thought structure-like a play……huh im sorry my english is not so good but i hope u know about what kinda art im talking about…:)
    ………ok, now bout this song
    so Kadan explains us and me a lot of things[thanks:)], now there is some, sholud i say easier part, called decribing emotions while and after reading this song…. i think that this part of song is…
    : Mortality is fatal —
    Gentility is fine,
    Rascality, heroic,
    Insolvency, sublime

    That kind of expressions and showing her enthusiasm for nature for liberty, that emotions that most higher good in every one of us, so if liberty is highest good in us, that is the main reason for us to celebrate it, and in the moment someone took us from us in thta very moment you dont exist anymore, living dead that has no spiritual reasons for living. So, according to her spirit, that lion’s strength, she realised that most exciting thing in life, our oh-so-passing life is to celebrtae our freedom, while we have it. in moment we loose her we can easily go six feet under…….

    huge huge greething from serbia……

    better days for all of us………..

  10. Kadan Joelavich says:

    I’m glad we know the proper use for this cite.

    now about the poem: Loomis asked what was ment by “sic transit gloria mundi” and i answer that. it is Latin meaning “so passes worldly glory” or more normaly “fame fades”, in fact this poem is riddled with latin, it also contains “dum vivimus vivamus”(let us live while we live), “veni,vidi, vici”( i came, i saw, i conquered), “caput”(head), “cap-a pie”(from head to foot), and “memento mori”(remember you are mortal) all of these phrases have to do with the posibly most famous latin phrase: “carpe diem” “seize the day” but that is the only one not there, i find that interesting.

  11. shiv reddy says:

    watch ‘rushmore’ – the movie.

  12. Loomis says:

    i wanted to know something…if anyone knows…there is a band named brand new, and one of their songs is called “sic transit gloria…glory fades” i was wondering if there was a connection…cause i dont know! 🙂


  13. shiv reddy says:

    really children, ugh!

  14. Kristen says:

    I like this poem and Ms. Dickinson, and if you don’t use this site for the poems, well then don’t get on it. I agree with the last comment. And no I am not that old, i am only 15. . .

  15. OMG says:

    Do you realize how stupid you are acting? All three of you! toooooooobrinety, why are you even on this site if you think its so boring? And no one wants to rape you and your butt, so go sob in a corner cause you’re not worth it! brittany, you saw a cow, that’s nice, it was scary, so don’t look at one next time. If you don’t like cows, then just find a poem that you like and think of it every time you get scared by…a cow. monique, at least you’re sane, and at least you talked about the poem, but I really don’t think you should compare yourself to Emily Dickenson and say that you’re better. I mean, I’ve had my poetry published, and I know I’m not better than her! She was one of the best poets ever! So, as an ending to this comment, I liked this poem and I think more people should read it, that is if they are going to be serious and actually take the time to appreciate it!!!!

    P.S. No, I am NOT an old grammy who thinks kids should behave better and show respect for their elders and yatta yatta yatta! I am thirteen years old and twice as smart as you! You don’t care, too bad. I will not tolerate people acting like absolute jerks! If you thought all people who came to this site were passive, annoying, little kids doing homework and boring old professors not caring about kids acting like idiots, you were WRONG-O, let me tell you that much! So there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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