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There's been a Death, in the Opposite House by Emily Dickinson


"There's been a Death, in the Opposite House" is a poem written by Emily Dickinson. Dickinson observes the "Opposite House" throughout this poem. She sees what she believes is someone has died. Neighbors are rushing in and out, a doctor left, a mattress was thrown out, there's a minister, a milliner (someone who makes hats and sometimes suits) and someone "Of the appalling trade" (coroner). She states it's easy to tell, since it is "In just a country town."

This poem is written as six stanzas with four lines in each. The odd lines are written longer than the even lines to gain structure and rhythm. The even lines are rhymed, although mostly imperfectly, across the poem. Dickinson uses her strange rhythm and meter style as a way to control emotions and send her message to the reader.

Johnson number: 389


There's been a Death, in the Opposite House

There's been a Death, in the Opposite House,
As lately as today.
I know it by the numb look
Such houses have alway.

The neighbours rustle in and out,
The doctor drives away.
A window opens like a pod,
Abrupt, mechanically;

Somebody flings a mattress out, -
The children hurry by;
They wonder if It died on that, -
I used to when a boy.

The minister goes stiffly in
As if the house were his,
And he owned all the mourners now,
And little boys besides;

And then the milliner, and the man
Of the appalling trade,
To take the measure of the house.
There'll be that dark parade

Of tassels and of coaches soon;
It's easy as a sign, -
The intuition of the news
In just a country town.

Next: They shut me up in Prose
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Literary Movement
19th Century


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