The only Ghost I ever saw
Was dressed in Mechlin — so —
He wore no sandal on his foot —
And stepped like flakes of snow —

His Gait — was soundless, like the Bird —
But rapid — like the Roe —
His fashions, quaint, Mosaic —
Or haply, Mistletoe —

His conversation — seldom —
His laughter, like the Breeze —
That dies away in Dimples
Among the pensive Trees —

Our interview — was transient —
Of me, himself was shy —
And God forbid I look behind —
Since that appalling Day!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem The only Ghost I ever saw


  1. frumpo says:

    An experience with the Holy Spirit or a dead person.

  2. Clare says:

    If the word “Mosaic” is taken as being an adjective, it means relating to the religious figure, Moses. In the context of the poem, that could mean Dickinson is comparing the attire of the Ghost to the clothes that Moses would wear, as she says “His fashions, quaint, Mosaic”.
    That is my interpretation at least, as it seems to make more sense.
    Also, the last line is ambiguous. Does she mean “I’m too scared to look behind me because seeing that Ghost has made me more afraid of death ‘stalking’ me”
    Or does she mean “I’m never going to look back” as in, I’m looking only at the future and not concerned with the worries of death.

  3. yesenia says:

    i really like this poem it is cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. lauren says:

    i felt that there were many interpretations to the poem. i feel that from the poem we learned a lot about about Dickinsons fascination with the afterlife, but i also believe that the ghost doesnt have to be taken on a metaphorical level. The ghost may be representing her father as he was the only real male influence in her life. as she lived in that big house for so long alone, she could be hullucinating also.

  5. Anna says:

    Do you think then that it can be a metaphor for the mosiac of life? Life is like an intricate spider’s web, fragile, beautiful, spun, but eventually broken (death)?

  6. Shannon Hammer says:


  7. james means says:

    some people misread this poem (I include my earlier self in this group!) by not searching for “mosaic” in the O.E.D., where they will find that it can mean a kind of lace “on account of small sprigs being used to build up the pattern as pieces of stone and glass are used in mosaic work.”

  8. Lizzy O'Connor says:

    To me, this poem highlights Dickinson’s obvious fascination with the afterlife. Not only does it portray the supoernatural as sensical, comprehendable beings, but encourages us not to fear death, or what may come after it. Dickinson does not try and indoctrinate us into one particualr viewpoint, but leaves the poem open for any religious interpretation the reader may wish to formulate.

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