One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —

One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —
One need not be a House —
The Brain has Corridors — surpassing
Material Place —

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting
External Ghost
Than its interior Confronting —
That Cooler Host.

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a’chase —
Than Unarmed, one’s a’self encounter —
In lonesome Place —

Ourself behind ourself, concealed —
Should startle most —
Assassin hid in our Apartment
Be Horror’s least.

The Body — borrows a Revolver —
He bolts the Door —
O’erlooking a superior spectre —
Or More —

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —


  1. […] what better way to close out this seeming nonsense than Miss Emily Dickinson’s take: “One Need Not Be A Chamber — To Be Haunted —” — our actual, real fears and ghosts are in our own […]

  2. John Shaw says:

    I think Dickinson is pointing out a fundamental truth of human nature and life. There’s nothing as scary as our own conscience. Or, perhaps, the world is entirely subjective to our own experience of it. It’s an interesting question if our internal world actually makes the external world. Thus, I go for a walk and pass scenery, but it can never be objective scenery. It’s colored completely by my own experience. Everything that we experience then is actually an internal thing, and when our feelings are negative, well it’s all pretty bad.The human mind, no doubt, is infinitely complex and mysterious-loads of corridors-and is able to think about its thinking. Thus, that line: Ourself behind ourself-concealed. Distraction, then, might often be a good thing-lest we know ourselves too intimately?

  3. HL says:

    well since no one’s posted here yet i guess i will be the first to share my interpretation.

    first stanza: basically ed is saying you don’t need to be a chamber to be haunted because you carry your own haunted place with you.
    second stanza: Far safer, of a midnight meeting external ghost = it is safer to see a ghost (physically, externally, on the outside) than to confront the interior, which is your mind.
    second to last stanza: it is much more dangerous to look inside yourself than looking on the outside.
    nothing’s scarrier than our inner selves.
    last stanza: you can’t keep out the major intruder which is part of yourself.

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