Study Guide

Apparently with no surprise Death

By Emily Dickinson

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Once again it's time for everybody's favorite topic: death. Um, yay? "Apparently with no surprise" gives us an unflinching look at the inevitability of the D-word. The cool thing is that it doesn't get all sentimental about it. You'll find no whining about death here. No melodrama. Instead, the speaker gives us the cold, hard facts. It's coming; we all know it's coming; that's just the way it is. Of course, while the speaker doesn't get too emotional, we have to wonder why she chooses to zero in on this topic in this way. Underneath it all, is this poem ultimately asking the big question, "Why do we have to die?"

Questions About Death

  1. What element of nature is used to symbolize life and death in this poem?
  2. How do you think the speaker feels about death? Angry? Resigned? What makes you say so? 
  3. How do the connotations of death-y words like "beheads" and "Assassin" affect the poem's tone?

Chew on This

The poem reminds us that death is just a part of life so we might as well not go around whining about it all the time.

The poem shows how unfair death is; it points out how happy flowers don't deserve it along with every other living thing.

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