We Grow Accustomed to the Dark
by Emily Dickinson
A poem written c. 1862, first published in 1935.1
While the poem can be variously interpreted, one reading posits that the lines contrast ignorance with knowledge; other readings suggest that the verse equates dark with death or madness.
We grow accustomed to the Dark —
When Light is put away —
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye —
A Moment — We uncertain step
For newness of the night —
Then — fit our Vision to the Dark—
And meet the Road — erect —
And so of larger — Darkness —
Those Evenings of the Brain —
When not a Moon disclose a sign —
Or Star — come out — within —
The Bravest — grope a little —
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead —
But as they learn to see —
Either the Darkness alters —
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight —
And Life steps almost straight.
1 First published in Commonweal XXIII (29 November 1935), Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the trustees of Amherst College from THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON, Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard Univesity Press, Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
PORTRAIT: Emily Dickinson by William C. North (1846 or 1847).
CITATION INFORMATION (in MLA format): Dickinson, Emily. "We Grow Accustomed to the Dark." Gleeditions, 17 Apr. 2011, www.gleeditions.com/wegrowaccustomedtothedark/students/pages.asp?lid=317&pg=4. Originally published in The Poems of Emily Dickison, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, Harvard U Press, 1998, p. 325.