One Need Not Be A Chamber To Be Haunted

I encountered this poem while looking for something else entirely a few months ago and I’ve just been waiting for an excuse to use it. No such excuse has conveniently arisen. So, I am just going to share it here.

Part Four: Time and Eternity

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase, 
Than, moonless, one’s own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror’s least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O’erlooking a superior spectre
More near.

Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.

Just twenty lines to tell us more about our internal memories, shame, and self-awareness than many a long text.

Cong Abbey by night, Celtic crosses and graves
fun with shadows (Cong Abbey, with Ireland Writers Tours)
Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing. I don’t often slow down enough to read and savor poetry, so this was a treat.

    Dickinson has such a way with words. I would say “had” but with the poem living on, representing its creator so well, she might as well still be here. ;-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *