Study Guide

After great pain, a formal feeling comes Summary

By Emily Dickinson

After great pain, a formal feeling comes Summary

The poem tells us that big traumas are often followed up by periods of numbness. (Is that good or bad? Hard to tell.) The whole thing is this crazy kaleidoscope of contradictory images. Numb nerves, a confused heart, robot feet, people dying in the snow— all of these images come together to paint a vivid picture of the inner life of somebody who's totally messed up after experiencing something awful.