A Poor Torn Heart, Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

"A POOR — TORN HEART — A TATTERED HEART —" by Emily Dickinson reflects on the journey of a heart that has endured hardships and struggles. The poem presents a poignant portrayal of a heart that finds solace and restoration through divine intervention and guidance.


A poor — torn heart — a tattered heart —
That sat it down to rest —
Nor noticed that the Ebbing Day
Flowed silver to the West —
Nor noticed Night did soft descend —
Nor Constellation burn —
Intent upon the vision
Of latitudes unknown.
The angels — happening that way
This dusty heart espied —
Tenderly took it up from toil
And carried it to God —
There — sandals for the Barefoot —
There — gathered from the gales —
Do the blue havens by the hand
Lead the wandering Sails.


"A POOR — TORN HEART — A TATTERED HEART —" portrays a heart that has endured struggles and hardships, symbolized by its torn and tattered state. The heart finds respite from its tribulations when angels come to its aid, carrying it to God. There, the heart is rejuvenated and equipped to navigate new horizons with the guidance of divine providence.

Critical Analysis

The poem "A POOR — TORN HEART — A TATTERED HEART —" explores the emotional journey of a heart that has faced challenges and hardships. The imagery of a "torn heart" and a "tattered heart" suggests a heart that is wounded, worn, and marked by suffering.

The heart's obliviousness to the passage of time, as indicated by its failure to notice the "Ebbing Day" flowing "silver to the West," reflects its preoccupation with its own struggles and pain.

The heart's focus on "latitudes unknown" implies a yearning for new experiences and a desire to explore uncharted territories.

The appearance of angels, who notice the heart's plight and tenderly carry it to God, symbolizes divine intervention and care. The act of carrying the heart "from toil" emphasizes the heart's liberation from its burdens.

The mention of "sandals for the Barefoot" and "blue havens" evokes a sense of comfort, protection, and guidance that the heart receives in the presence of divine forces.


  • Suffering and Restoration: The poem examines the concept of a heart that endures suffering and hardships but finds restoration, rejuvenation, and solace through divine intervention.
  • Divine Guidance: The angels' appearance represents divine care and guidance, suggesting that even in times of distress, individuals can find support and strength from spiritual sources.
  • Seeking Meaning: The heart's focus on "latitudes unknown" symbolizes a search for purpose, new experiences, and a deeper understanding of life.


  • Resilience: The poem conveys the resilience of the heart despite its torn and tattered state, as well as its capacity to overcome challenges.
  • Hope and Transformation: The heart's transformation through divine intervention reflects the themes of hope, renewal, and transformation.


  • Imagery: The imagery of a "poor — torn heart — a tattered heart" and the angels' intervention vividly convey the emotional and spiritual journey depicted in the poem.
  • Symbolism: The heart serves as a symbol of human emotions, struggles, and resilience, while the angels symbolize divine care and intervention.

Reflect on the poem's exploration of suffering, divine intervention, and renewal. How does the heart's journey resonate with your own experiences of facing challenges and seeking solace? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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