True, like the Tomb,
Who tells no secret
Told to Him —
The Grave is strict —
Just two — the Bearer — and the Borne —
And seat — just One —
The Living — tell —
The Dying — but a Syllable —
The Coy Dead — None —
No Chatter — here — No Tea —
So Babbler, and Bohea — stay there —
But Gravity — and Expectation — and Fear —
A tremor just, that all's not sure.
F543 (1863) J408
The poem reads as a spontaneous meditation on death as if the poet has come across an open grave in her ambles. She pauses to wonder whose gravesite it is (the essential Dickinson Lexicon gives "unit" the definition of "dwelling place"). But since the "Grave is strict", like the more durable structure of a stone tomb, and "tells no secret", she is unlikely to ever know.
Dickinson then imagines the burial as a bit of theater or a social event. There are tickets, but unlike theater tickets, there are only two issued: one for the dead and one for the bearer. Only the dead, however, actually get a seat.
During the funeral the living chat away. Dickinson contrasts this with the dying who but moan or gasp a "Syllable" – perhaps a name, perhaps simply a groan. Those "Coy Dead", though, have nothing to say. Whatever they know they keep to themselves. "No Chatter … No Tea" – the grave is no place for babblers. They and their tea should stay alive and with the living. "Bohea"* is a type of tea, and the Lexicon notes the word is not only the name of a tea but suggests "Bohemian".
Whether tea drinker, babbler, or Bohemian – all feel something at the grave, and Dickinson names the feelings: Gravity, Expectation, and Fear. The occasion is heavy and serious; it reminds the living that they, too, have an expected date with death and this date is what engenders the fear. But in keeping with the tea and chatter, the fear isn't so very bad. It is just a "tremor", a brief frisson. What seems so sure in daily life suddenly seems not quite so sure.
* Dickinson might have read the poems of Alaric Watts in which case the chattering drinkers of Bohea might have come to her mind. Note the alliteration that goes in alphabetical order from line to line.
"About an age ago, as all agree,
Beauteous Belinda, brewing best Bohea
Carelessly chattered, controverting clean,
Dublin's derisive, disputations dean ..."
Attributed to Alaric A. Watts (1820)