The Brain, within its Groove Poem by Emily Dickinson Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English


The poem “The Brain, within its Groove” is written by Emily Dickinson. The title is tal=Ken from the first line of the poem. In this poem the poet talks about how the “brain” can focus on one thing and suddenly due to a small splinter in the train of thought , can derail. A small change in the thought can cause the person to think raging and uncontrolled thoughts.

About the poet

Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was a prominent American poet. She was an important influence on American Literature. She had published numerous poems, including “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”, “Because I could not stop for Death” and “A Bird came down the Walk”.


The poem is a short poem made up of just two quatrains, stanzas consisting of four lines each.

Stanza 1

The Brain, within its Groove

Runs evenly — and true —

But let a Splinter swerve —

'Twere easier for You —


The poet starts by talking about how the brain in its place works evenly and follows one train of thought. But the train of thought can be affected by a “splinter”. It can make the train of thought swerve into uncontrollable directions.


The poet talks about the brain. Here by the brain, the poet means mind and its train of thoughts. The poet talks about how this train of thoughts runs straight, evenly and true. By this the poet talks about how the brain can completely focus on one thing. This thighs process can be swerved by one 

“Splinter”. By “splinter” the poet means an uncontrolled thought. This thought can be any uninvited thought.

Stanza 2

To put a Current back —

When Floods have slit the Hills —

And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves —

And trodden out the Mills —


Now the poet talks about how one splinter in the brain can cause great destruction like splitting the hill with flood, taking out the turnpike from the earth and trodden the mills.


The poet talks about how violent such a splinter can be. The uninvited thought can be aggressive and destructive to the brain. The poet describes this through the violent images of a hill being split by floods, a turnpike being scooped out of the earth.