If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain

Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem If I can stop one Heart from breaking


  1. Beth Ann Domondon says:

    When I first read this poem I immediately thought that the writer had to have experienced pain and sorrow and wanted to releive others of their pain. (Fellow feeling)….and the pain that she suffered would somehow have equiped her better, to do just that. Thus, not living her life (pain and sorrow) in vain.

  2. Balls says:

    This poem means… HELP! do not waste your life

  3. Steve says:

    @rmik from France
    Well, she wants to relieve her own pain by relieving others’.

  4. rmik says:

    this poem is wonderful, for sure, but it’s kind of weird nevertheless cuz how could you possibly relieve others’pain when you actually can’t do it for yourself? I know it may sound selfish but the poem itself is impossible in that way!!!

  5. cherry says:

    this poem?….wel our teacher let us make a reflection about this…..this poem is great but i cant mke up my reflection on it… so disgusting!!!!!….

  6. killton says:

    i just hate poem they r lame and fing boring it suk f u poem

  7. killton says:

    i just hate poem they suk its lame i get hate that sh1t f u poem

  8. vickter says:

    i hate poems!!!!!!!!!!!it is so hard and weird too because you have to look deep enough to find wat it means and it takes days to find out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Cammy says:

    Before any of you decide to comment this poem, may I suggest some English classes? I’m only 16 years old, and I’ve found more grammatical errors in these few comments than in my five year old nephews whole two years of speaking. Thanks!

  10. WENDY SULLIVAN says:


  11. Adriana says:

    This was one of the most beautiful poem I’ve already read… We must read it every morning,before doing anything, the world would be a little happiest!!

  12. Harel says:

    This simple poem brings out the most basic of human desires. When caring for yourself stops being your driving force, you realize that caring for others is what seperates a meaningless life to one that has all the meaning in the world.

  13. Jessica says:

    1.Who is speaking? Emily Dickinson
    2.To whom is she speaking? A person who needs comfort
    3.What is the occasion? A time of reflection
    4.When is the poem being spoken? Doesn’t say!
    5.Where is the poem being spoken? I think, from he windowsill as she looks upon the graveyard
    6.what is the central idea? That she envied people who could comfort those who were broken-hearted, or even the simplest thing, such as assisting a helpless bird back into it’s nest.
    7.what is the dominent tone? Sad and depressed
    8.How is that tone acheived? In the 2nd line of the 1st stanza, she says “I shall not live in vain”and in the 3rd line of the 2nd stanza she quotes again “i shall not live in vain” this meaning that while she grows old she could look back nd think she did something and that she was counted for that.
    9.What happens in the poem? doesn’t show any action
    10.How would you describe the language of the poem? Figurative
    11.what words in the poem especially move you? The entire 1st stanza
    12. How woulkd you identify the meter and rhyme scheme of the poem? A, B, A, B, C, B, A,

    These are some analizing things. Hope you enjoy them!

  14. Kylea Culver says:

    I wanted you to know that I really liked you poem it was really good hopefully you have foud something that you are good at. Well I wish you the best of luck!!

  15. Jessica says:

    Although I think some of Emily’s poems are confusing, and boring, I do believe that this one spoke to me, more than any of them. Not only because it is simple, but because, it shows she had pitty for herself, and that she envied other people who could do these things. She wished she could help people with their love problems, or help a hopeless bird back into it’s nest. I think this poem is very deep, if you think about it long enough…

  16. Alexandra says:

    i think the poem expresses how we should think about others, and help them, and guide them. and not to help just to boost our self confidence, or make us feel good about ourselves.its about them.

    great poem

  17. kirsten says:

    i think this poem was really good it was the first one i read from emily dickenson that i really liked i think she is a good poet writter

  18. The barkster says:

    I just read this poem for the first time and I think it is sooooooo great! I think Emily really expresses what all of us sometime hope-that if we could just help one person, do just one good thing in our lives, that we’d feel like we are special and we have accomplished something. Emily has a way of expressing herself that is very unique, and I definitely look up to her for that.

  19. Aisha Billa says:

    Wow. What an amazing poem. In just a few lines Emily expressed her her wishes and desires. She wrapped up a great deal of anxiety and pain in those few lines. This poem is an inspiration and should be one to all. It made me realize how humanity works, and how everyones heart is subtle and delicate, if only we had the power to change lives. I absolutely adore this poem.

  20. Akin says:

    I came across this beautiful poem a little over 30 years ago. I still constantly recite it to myself and have introduced it to several friends as my favorite poem of all times. I am so strongly affected by it and I wish we could all live our lives doing what it says instead of adding to others’heart aches through what we say and do.

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.