Emily Dickinson on the Death of her Nephew

In 1863, Emily Dickinson's nephew, Gilbert, died at the age of eight. The entire family was devastated. In a letter to the young boy's mother, Susan Gilbert Dickinson, who was also one of her dearest friends, Emily tries to offer consolation. In the enigmatic writing style she is so well-known for, Emily remembers Gilbert's vibrant personality and manages to convey the vast mystery and incomprehensibility of death.


Dear Sue -
    The Vision of Immortal Life has been fulfilled -
   How simply at the last the Fathom comes! The Passenger and not the Sea, we find surprises us-
    Gilbert rejoiced in Secrets -
   His Life was panting with them - With what menace of Light he cried "Dont tell, Aunt Emily"! Now my ascended Playmate must instruct me. Show us, prattling Preceptor, but the way to thee!
    He knew no niggard moment - His Life was full of Boon - The Playthings of the Dervish were not so wild as his -
    No crescent was this Creature - He traveled from the Full -
    Such soar, but never set -
    I see him in the Star, and meet his sweet velocity in everything that flies - His Life was like the Bugle, which winds itself away, his Elegy an echo - his Requiem ecstasy -
    Dawn and Meridian in one.
    Wherefore would he wait, wronged only of Night, which he left for us -
    Without a speculation, our little Ajax spans the whole -

          Pass to thy Rendezvous of Light,
          Pangless except for us -
          Who slowly ford the Mystery
          Which thou hast leaped across!