If I Should Die, Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

In "If I Should Die" by Emily Dickinson, the poet contemplates the continuation of life and the world's activities after her passing. Through vivid imagery and a reflective tone, the poem explores the idea of mortality and the reassurance that life will carry on in her absence. Dickinson's portrayal of the continuity of nature and human affairs contrasts with the fleeting nature of individual existence, offering a sense of solace and tranquility in the face of mortality.

If I Should Die

If I should die,
And you should live —
And time should gurgle on —
And morn should beam —
And noon should burn —
As it has usual done —
If Birds should build as early
And Bees as bustling go —
One might depart at option
From enterprise below!
'Tis sweet to know that stocks will stand
When we with Daisies lie —
That Commerce will continue —
And Trades as briskly fly —
It makes the parting tranquil
And keeps the soul serene —
That gentlemen so sprightly
Conduct the pleasing scene!


"If I Should Die" explores the speaker's contemplation of her own mortality and the reassurance that life will persist after her passing. The poem envisions a world where time, nature, and human activities continue as usual even if the speaker were to die. The speaker finds comfort in the thought that life's routines and enterprises will carry on, offering a sense of tranquility and serenity in the face of death.

Critical Analysis

"If I Should Die" delves into themes of mortality, continuity, and the ephemeral nature of individual existence.

The poem's opening lines introduce the premise of the speaker's death and the continuation of time, depicting the world's ongoing rhythm even in the absence of the speaker.

Through the imagery of morning and noon, the poem emphasizes the cyclical nature of time and the constancy of nature's patterns.

The mention of Birds building and Bees bustling highlights the natural world's uninterrupted activities, further reinforcing the idea of continuity.

The poem's reassuring tone reflects the speaker's acceptance of mortality and the comfort she finds in the thought that life's affairs and commerce will persist.

The reference to Daisies and Commerce symbolizes the continuity of both the natural world and human endeavors, contrasting with the transient nature of individual life.

The concluding lines suggest that the presence of lively gentlemen conducting the scene contributes to a serene departure and a peaceful transition from life.

"If I Should Die" prompts readers to reflect on the eternal cycles of life and the reassurance that life's tapestry continues even after one's passing.


  • Mortality and Continuity: The poem explores the contrast between the fleeting nature of individual life and the enduring continuity of time, nature, and human activities.
  • Acceptance and Tranquility: The speaker's acceptance of mortality and the assurance that life carries on contribute to a sense of tranquility and peaceful departure.
  • Time and Nature: Imagery of morning, noon, birds, and bees underscores the constant rhythm of time and the unchanging patterns of the natural world.


  • Reflection and Contemplation: The poem's reflective tone and contemplative imagery convey the speaker's thoughts on life, death, and the world's ongoing activities.
  • Comfort and Reassurance: The speaker finds comfort and reassurance in the continuity of life's routines and enterprises, contributing to a serene acceptance of mortality.


  • Imagery: The imagery of time, morning, noon, birds, bees, and Daisies paints a vivid picture of the world's continued activities despite the speaker's passing.
  • Symbols: The reference to Daisies and Commerce symbolizes the ongoing cycles of nature and human affairs.

Engage in a thoughtful discussion below to share your interpretations of "If I Should Die." How does the poem's exploration of mortality and continuity resonate with your own reflections on life's impermanence?

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