Ambition Cannot Find Him, Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

In "AMBITION CANNOT FIND HIM," Emily Dickinson explores the themes of ambition, affection, and immortality through concise and evocative language. The poem contemplates the contrast between ambition and the genuine connection of affection, ultimately emphasizing the idea of achieving immortality through meaningful relationships rather than mere accomplishments.


Ambition cannot find him.
Affection doesn't know
How many leagues of nowhere
Lie between them now.
Yesterday, undistinguished!
Eminent Today
For our mutual honor, Immortality!


"AMBITION CANNOT FIND HIM" explores the concept of ambition and the enduring power of genuine affection. The poem suggests that ambition and worldly recognition may not lead to true fulfillment, while genuine affection and meaningful relationships can lead to a form of immortality through mutual honor and enduring connections.

Critical Analysis

The poem "AMBITION CANNOT FIND HIM" contrasts the fleeting nature of ambition with the lasting power of affection.

The opening lines "Ambition cannot find him. / Affection doesn't know" set up the juxtaposition between ambition and affection. Ambition, symbolizing the pursuit of fame and success, is juxtaposed with affection, representing genuine emotional connections.

The phrase "How many leagues of nowhere / Lie between them now" emphasizes the vast distance between ambition and the true heart of affection. Ambition may lead to empty achievements, while affection bridges emotional gaps.

The poem's shift from "Yesterday, undistinguished!" to "Eminent Today" highlights the transient nature of worldly recognition. The emphasis on "our mutual honor, Immortality!" suggests that genuine affection and meaningful relationships can lead to a form of lasting immortality through shared respect and memory.


  • Ambition vs. Affection: The poem contrasts the transient nature of ambition with the enduring power of affection and emotional connections.
  • Immortality Through Relationships: The poem suggests that true immortality is achieved through mutual honor and meaningful connections rather than mere accomplishments.
  • Transient Nature of Fame: The poem highlights the fleeting nature of worldly recognition and the limitations of ambition.


  • Contrast: The poem employs contrast to emphasize the differences between ambition and affection.
  • Reflection: The poem invites readers to reflect on the nature of ambition, genuine affection, and the significance of lasting connections.


  • Imagery: The imagery of "leagues of nowhere" conveys the vast distance between ambition and affection.
  • Shift in Time: The shift from "Yesterday" to "Eminent Today" highlights the contrast between fleeting recognition and lasting significance.

Reflect on the balance between ambition and genuine affection in your own life. How do you perceive the value of each? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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