From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Route of Evanescence

A Route of Evanescence


by Emily Dickinson

A Route of Evanescence Theme of Change

If you've ever paid cash for something, you know that change can mean a lot of things. In this case, when we say change, we're really talking about transience. What does that mean? Transience is "passing with time" or "the state of being brief or short-lived." In short, we mean a really quick, don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it change. "Route of Evanescence" is about a brief event, and how lucky the speaker was to catch it. In fact, one reason the speaker seems so wowed by the hummingbird is because of how quick the bird moves in and out of view. If the speaker had looked away for just a second, she may not have seen the bird. The poem is almost suggesting that we pay attention in order not to miss out on things like this.

Questions About Change

  1. When you read the poem out loud, does it move quickly? If so, how? 
  2. How does the poem's structure capture the hummingbird's movement?
  3. What is the effect on the speaker when the hummingbird disappears from view?
  4. Is anything permanent in this poem?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Whoosh! Zip! The poem tries to imitate the hummingbird by describing events quickly.

If the event being witnessed by the speaker had not happened so suddenly, it would not have had a lasting effect. Ironic much?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...