Monday, February 22, 2016

Emily Dickinson: "Frequently the woods are pink--"

This poem, reflecting the change of seasons, is one of the most accessible and understandable of her poems,  at least it is for me.  Of course, it appears to be an early one, possibly composed as early as 1858, according to the editor, Thomas H. Johnson, which may account for its unusual straightforwardness.


Frequently the woods are pink --
Frequently are brown.
Frequently the hills undress
Behind my native town.
Oft a head is crested
I was wont to see --
And as oft a cranny
Where it used to be --
And the Earth -- they tell me --
On its Axis turned!
Wonderful rotation!
By but twelve performed!  

-- Emily Dickinson --
from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson


  1. i've been intrigued by some of emily's simpler, shorter poems:

    i never saw a moor,
    i never saw the sea
    yet know i how the heather looks,
    and what a wave must be.

    i never spoke with god,
    nor visited in heaven;
    yet certain am i of the spot
    as if the chart were given.


    the morns are meeker than they were,
    the nuts are getting brown;
    the berry's cheek is plumper,
    the rose is out of town.

    the maple wears a gayer scarf,
    the field a scarlet gown
    lest i should be old-fashioned,
    i'll put a trinket on.

    1. Mudpuddle,

      Thanks for providing the two poems. I knew about the first one, but I hadn't encountered the second one. It's a great autumn poem.

      I wonder, though, in what sense would she be "old-fashioned" if she doesn't "put a trinket on."

  2. Ah, Emily . . . she puzzles me again with the last line. Hmmmm.

    1. R.T.,

      I looked several times at that last line also and have tentatively decided that she is referring to twelve months where these changes are performed

    2. R.T.,

      The first eight lines are limited in scope--specific images of the changes at particular spots, but the last four lines go for a more astronomical viewpoint--the whole globe spinning on its axis.