poem about afterlife

This World is not Conclusion

By Emily Dickinson

This World is not Conclusion.

 A Species stands beyond –

Invisible, as Music –

But positive, as Sound –

It beckons, and it baffles –

Philosophy – don’t know –

And through a Riddle, at the last –

Sagacity, must go –

To guess it, puzzles scholars –

To gain it, Men have borne

 Contempt of Generations

 And Crucifixion, shown –

Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies –

Blushes, if any see –

Plucks at a twig of Evidence –

And asks a Vane, the way –

Much Gesture, from the Pulpit –

Strong Hallelujahs roll –

Narcotics cannot still the Tooth

 That nibbles at the soul –

This poem was written in around 1862. ‘This World is not Conclusion’ sees Emily Dickinson exploring and analyzing our attitudes to death and what awaits us beyond. The world that we know and live in is not the only one, and everything does not end with death. Something is found beyond this life, but although it has physical existence (like sound) it is mysterious and invisible (like the power of music). It intrigues us, but it resists full understand – even philosophy cannot pin it down or explain it. Our conventional wisdom or ‘sagacity’ is no good when faced with such a ‘Riddle’.