After great pain, a formal feeling comes –

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


In a sense, this phrase is counter-intuitive. A great pain can represent a death in the family, illness, or an otherwise powerful event. It would make sense that, in response to something so negative, the body would react passionately or violently. However, Dickinson’s contention is just the opposite. She says instead that pain makes us “formal” and makes us slow down.

To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “After great pain a formal feeling comes (J341, F372)” by Emily Dickinson and leave a comment on the lyrics box