And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

from Emily Dickinson – After great pain a formal feeling comes (J341, F372) on Rap Genius

Meaning

Intense pain or grief shocks us out of our daily routine, throwing off our ordinary sense of time.

The phrase also evokes the timeless quality of suffering. All human beings have suffered throughout history, be it symbolically as Christ did (mentioned in the previous line) or physically and emotionally. Thus, pain as a human experience is eternal, yet constraining. It perpetually shackles us because it is inextricably linked with the human condition.

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