The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth--
The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
The narrative voice could be the friends and family members of the individual who died. The poem's physical setting is a house in which someone has passed away. The poem depicts the commotion within a household the morning after someone dies. There is a stark contrast between the imagery of people bustling through the house and their solemn actions of picking through the deceased's things. These people are likely friends and family of the departed who have to confront their emotions concerning the loss of a loved one.
This poem's structure is simple. There is slant rhyme in each stanza that follows an abcb rhyme scheme. Dickinson creates a brisk pace that undermines the gravity of losing a loved one. The poem's swift progression suggests that the bereaved begin to move on immediately after their loved one has passed and that letting go is as simple as "putting Love away."
The first stanza of poem #1078 is straightforward. Dickinson describes the "Bustle" within a house the day after an occupant has died as the "solemnest of industries." When someone dies an aura settles over everything they leave behind. Sorting through the possessions of the deceased is a dreary affair that the dead individual's family and friends feel obligated to do. The people within the house have to decide what to throw away and this decision is a constant reminder of their loved one's death.
In the second stanza the people begin to accept the absence of their beloved. They begin to detach themselves from whoever passed away by "Sweeping up the Heart" and "putting Love away." These people believe that they are merely storing their love away until they are reunited with their loved one in "Eternity" or Heaven. The line "We shall not want to use again" implies that dwelling on the death of a loved one is unfavorable; rather people should quickly move on and take solace in the knowledge that death does not separate people forever.
This poem doesn't completely resonate with me. When one of my family members passed away, I didn't immediately confront my feelings about his death. I couldn't sweep my heart up off of the bottom of my stomach right away because grief isn't malleable. I do agree with Dickinson that to hold on to an empty spot in your life is a waste of time. But I believe that grief, like other emotions, comes and goes as it pleases and cannot be rushed.