Jesus! thy Crucifix

Emily Dickinson

‘Jesus! thy Crucifix’ by Emily Dickinson is a short poem in the form of a prayer to Jesus. Th speaker wants to make sure he remembers that humanity suffers on earth.

Emily Dickinson

Nationality: America

Emily Dickinson redefined American poetry with unique line breaks and unexpected rhymes.

Notable works include 'Because I could not stop for Death' and 'Hope is the Thing with Feathers.' 

Key Poem Information

Central Message: Faith can help people endure difficult situations

Themes: Death, Religion

Speaker: Someone of the Christian faith

Emotions Evoked: Faith

Poetic Form: Free Verse

Time Period: 19th Century

Dickinson explores one of her major themes in this poem, faith. She demonstrates her complex views of Christianity.

She’s aware that his suffering is much greater than humankind’s but hopes that his experience with the crucifixion will allow him to keep humanity in mind. ‘Jesus! thy Crucifix‘ was likely written with Dickinson’s own religious thoughts in mind. This is far from the only poem Dickinson penned with religious themes in mind. One other is Some keep the Sabbath going to Church.’ 

Jesus! thy Crucifix
Emily Dickinson

Jesus! thy CrucifixEnable thee to guessThe smaller size!

Jesus! thy second faceMind thee in ParadiseOf ours!
Jesus! thy Crucifix by Emily Dickinson


Jesus! thy Crucifix’ by Emily Dickinson is a short religious poem. It is addressed to Jesus and asks that he remember humanity’s suffering.

The speaker begins the first stanza in the same way that she starts the second. She addresses Jesus. She suggests in the first lines that his time on earth and the crucifixion helped him understand human pain and suffering. He suffered worse than anyone on earth, but hopefully, that allows him to see humankind’s smaller woes. The stanzas of this piece are quite short and to the point. There is little room for additional interpretation. 

The second stanza starts in the same way as the first. The speaker talks to Jesus, in the form of a prayer, asking that he remember or be reminded (“mind”) of humankind’s life on earth while he’s in Heaven. His “second face,” which presumably refers to his resurrection and what he knew afterward, should give him some knowledge of what life on earth is like.  


Throughout this piece, Dickinson engages with the theme of religion. Faith is also an integral part of the poem as it takes faith to believe in what Dickinson is hoping for. The speaker addresses Jesus and expresses her hope that he, in Heaven, remember what it is like to live on earth and suffer the smaller pains of humankind. Through these pleas, she’s implying that hopefully, he’ll take care of her and other faithful people like her. Her religion allows her to believe in him as a caretaker. 

Structure and Form 

‘Jesus! thy Crucifix’ by Emily Dickinson is a two-stanza poem that is separated out into tercets or sets of three lines. These tercets make use of half-rhymes in order to create an unstructured rhyme scheme. For example, “size” in stanza one and “Paradise” in stanza two. “Face” and “guess” in both stanzas is also a good example. This is an unusual use of rhyme for Dickinson, who is known for her almost constant use of ballad meter

Literary Devices 

Throughout ‘Jesus! thy Crucifix,’ the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines two and three of the first stanza as well as lines one and two of the second stanza. 
  • Caesura: can be seen when the poet inserts a pause into the middle of a line. In this case, the first lines of both stanzas are great examples. 
  • Anaphora: occurs when the poet repeats a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, “Jesus! thy” which begins the first lines of both stanzas. 

Detailed Analysis 

Stanza One 

Jesus! thy Crucifix

Enable thee to guess

The smaller size!

In the first lines of this short piece, the poet begins by addressing Jesus. She asks that he consider the “smaller size” of humanity’s earthly worries. Besides this, she isn’t asking for anything dramatic or too specific. She’s hoping that up in Heaven, Christ remembers the suffering and fear human beings endure on earth. He suffered a worse pain, but hopefully, this will allow him to remember what’s possible. The poet uses enjambment in the first two lines of this stanza in order to move the reader through the text quickly.

The poem is made up of short sentences that convey a fairly simple message, one that most Christians will already believe in.

Stanza Two 

Jesus! thy second face

Mind thee in Paradise

Of ours!

In the second stanza, the speaker asks that Christ’s “second face,” post-resurrection, allows him to remember “ours” while he’s in paradise. The word “Mind” is used instead of “remind.” This makes the lines even more concise but does mean they are slightly harder to interpret. Cutting words and shortening them is something that happens in most Dickinson poems, but this short piece is a good example. 

The two stanzas of this poem are written in parallel form. The lines are almost all the same lengths and take around the same amount of time to read. They are in their simplest form, a prayer that the speaker would like to have answered. 


What is the purpose of ‘Jesus! thy Crucifix?’ 

The purpose is to share the speaker’s dedication to her religion while also crafting a prayer to Jesus that he remember human suffering. Christian readers will be reminded of Christ’s sacrifice and the greater suffering he went through. 

What is the tone of ‘Jesus! thy Crucifix?’ 

The tone is emphatic and somewhat pleading but is also peaceful. The speaker addresses Jesus with gusto, asking that he remember the simpler and smaller suffering of human beings on earth. 

What is the meaning of ‘Jesus! thy Crucifix?’

The meaning is that Christ is going to remember human suffering despite the fact that he’s in Heaven, in a very different world than humanity inhabits. The speaker’s prayer is acknowledging or asking for something that is already a tenant of Christianity. 

Who is the speaker in ‘Jesus! thy Crucifix?’

The speaker is someone who believes in Christ, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. Presumably, Dickinson herself. She often spoke about her religious beliefs within her poems, and this is one of the simplest, most direct examples. 

Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed ‘Jesus! thy Crucifix’ should consider reading some other Emily Dickinson poems. For example: 

Also, you can see our pick of the 10 most touching poems about Christianity.

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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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