If You Were Coming In The Fall Poem by Emily Dickinson Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English


“If You Were Coming In The Fall” is a poem written by Emily Dickinson. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful poem that brings out the longing the persona has anticipating the arrival of their beloved. 

About the Poet:

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was a notable American poet. She is known for her often bold writing style. Famous works of hers include ‘“Hope” Is The Thing With Feathers’, ‘I Taste A Liquor Never Brewed’, and ‘Success Is Counted Sweetest’. 


This poem consists of 20 lines split into 5 quatrains. Written using the ballad meter, each stanza of this poem follows the rhyme scheme “abcb”. 

Explanation of the Stanzas:

Stanza 1:

If you were coming in the Fall,

I'd brush the Summer by

With half a smile, and half a spurn,

As Housewives do, a Fly.

The poem begins with the persona directly addressing their beloved. They state that was their beloved to arrive “in the Fall” season, then they would “brush” the Summer season away just as how “Housewives” would swat away “a Fly”. 

Stanza 2:

If I could see you in a year,

I'd wind the months in balls---

And put them each in separate Drawers,

For fear the numbers fuse---

Here, the time span allotted for the predicted arrival of the beloved expands from one season to “a year”. Again, the persona doesn’t give up yet, stating that for all the months they were both separated, they would spin “balls” and “put them each in separate Drawers” so as to not “fuse the numbers” and not lose track of the number of months left. 

Stanza 3:

If only Centuries, delayed,

I'd count them on my Hand,

Subtracting, til my fingers dropped

Into Van Dieman's Land,

In this stanza again, the time span widens impossibly further. The persona declares that should their beloved only return after “Centuries”, then they would count the number of centuries on their “Hand” and subtract the centuries gone by cutting off their “fingers” till they all “dropped/ Into Van Dieman’s Land” – Tasmania, that is. 

Stanza 4:

If certain, when this life was out---

That yours and mine, should be

I'd toss it yonder, like a Rind,

And take Eternity---

In this penultimate stanza, the persona asserts that should their union be made certain only when “this life was out”, then the persona would gladly “toss” their current life into “yonder” and instead choose to live with them in the “Eternity” of death. 

Stanza 5:

But, now, uncertain of the length

Of this, that is between,

It goads me, like the Goblin Bee---

That will not state--- its sting.

Even after the great lengths the persona is willing to take in loving their beloved, the concluding stanza of the poem reveals the despair of the persona over the “uncertain”ity “of the length” or duration after which their beloved was to return. This uncertainty “goads them” as a “Goblin Bee” would and “stings” them– bringing out the pain and grief they were facing. 


This is an excellent poem that brings out both, the joys and sorrows of love. The pangs of love that plague the persona are artfully brought out through the clever verses of the poem.