The distance that the dead have gone
Does not at first appear —
Their coming back seems possible
For many an ardent year.

And then, that we have followed them,
We more than half suspect,
So intimate have we become
With their dear retrospect.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem The distance that the dead have gone


  1. DON ANTON R. BALIDA, Ph.D. says:

    Imagining things to be eternal, that even when they are already gone, we keep on hanging on to them. This creates a perpetual illusion of their existence. Like in this poem, it is the loving and missing elements that keep the feeling burning toward the person you love, even if he or she does not exist anymore.

  2. Bev A. says:

    My husband died 10 months ago. This poem expresses my feelings succinctly – his “coming back seems possible” in my unmonitored thoughts. I store things in my mind to tell him, and I buy things which will please him … for when I next see him.

    And, yes, when I monitor my thoughts, I feel that I “have followed” him, because his “dear retrospect” is always on my mind.

  3. Clara says:

    Well I dont really get this poem but I guess she misses someone and that person comes back

  4. Rachael says:

    I liked this poem because to me it tells how she feels close to her dearly departed and how she connects with them

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