"There is a pain — so utter —" is a poem written by American poet Emily Dickinson. It was not published during her lifetime. Like many of Dickinson's poems There is a pain - so utter - was substantially changed when it was first published in 1929. The original version with Dickinson's typical dashes was restored by scholar Thomas H. Johnson for his 1955 edition of The Poems of Emily Dickinson.
There is a pain—so utter—
It swallows being up—
Then covers the abyss with trance—
So memory can step
As one within a swoon—
Goes safely—where an open eye—
Would drop him—bone by bone.
Pain is a recurring theme in Dickinson's poetry. This poem possibly describes an altered state of mind ("trance", "swoon") which makes the pain bearable. In this state of mind the memory is allowed to be selective, to "step around the abyss". Emily Dickinson led a secluded life and occasionally suffered from nervous breakdowns, which was not uncommon in the 19th Century.