Emily Dickinson’s Nature Poems: An Analysis of Selected Emily Dickinson Poems about Nature

I will attempt to explain Emily Dickinson’s poems–her nature poems, not all of them, just a few. It is reasonable that you may have a conflicting interpretation. I’m OK with that. If you’re going to complain, however, make sure you have evidence for your arguments.


Emily Dickinson Lesson Plans

Just because you love discussing poetry doesn’t mean your students do. These lesson plans will help your students create intelligent discussion topics for several Emily Dickinson poems. Download. Print. Copy. Teach.

Nature, the Gentlest Mother

Nature, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest,
Her admonition mildIn forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon,–
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes downHer voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky

With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

Poetic picture with link to poetry lesson plans.

Imagine having 11 complete poetry units with handouts and lesson plans completed. You don’t need to imagine. These units are teacher ready and student ready. Just print, make copies, and accept accolades from colleagues and students.

Analysis of “Nature, the Gentlest Mother”

An analysis of Emily Dickinson’s nature poems will begin with Mother Nature.

Rhyme Scheme: stanzas 1,2,6 – xaxa; stanzas 2,3,4 – xxxx (off rhyme with the second and fourth lines). Stanzas one, two, and six all speak of the gentleness of nature and nature’s affection for her creations. The content is peaceful as is the rhyme scheme. In stanza three, the reader is expecting another nice rhyme to end the stanza, but is jolted with off rhyme. The last line of stanza three–not accidentally, I assure you–marks an abrupt change from the day to the sun going down.

Meter: mostly iambic trimeter with an occasional line of tetrameter.

Rhythm: Dickinson uses variations in meter and rhyme to create rhythm.

Personification: Nature is personified as a gentle mother–there is no image in the world more benevolent as a gentle mother. Nature watches over her creations, personified as children.

In stanza two, humans represent the interloper, an unwanted guest that frightens nature’s children. It’s like when a mother is walking down the street with her children and some drunken baffoon comes barrelling down using foul language and the mother does everything in her power to shield her children’s ears and distract them from the uncleanness of the world. That’s what nature does when human travellers come near.

Theme: Nature represents purity and love, far outstripping the creations of humans.

The sun just touched the morning

The Sun—just touched the Morning–
The Morning—Happy thing–
Supposed that He had come to dwell–
And Life would all be Spring!She felt herself supremer–
A Raised—Ethereal Thing!
Henceforth—for Her—What Holiday!
Meanwhile—Her wheeling King–
Trailed—slow—along the Orchards–
His haughty—spangled Hems–
Leaving a new necessity!
The want of Diadems!The Morning—fluttered—staggered–
Felt feebly—for Her Crown–
Her unanointed forehead–
Henceforth—Her only One!

Analysis of “The sun just touched the morning”

Rhyme Scheme: xaxa-the rhyme is consistent until the last stanza where we are surprised by off rhyme in the last line, similar to the surprise faced by morning when her glory has been stripped from her.

Personification: The sun is the “he” referred to in line three, the “wheeling king” in line eight, and the thing that possesses the “haughty, spangled hems, / leaving a new necessity” (10-11).

Personification: The morning is the “she” that “felt herself supremer,– / A raised, ethereal thing” (5-6). The morning’s haughtiness is struck down as “her wheeling king” (8) leaves her lacking a diadem, a symbol of royalty.

Metaphor: The morning represents youth. The young feel themselves superior on account of their vitality, represented by the sun. The last stanza shows the morning after the loss of the sun: “The morning fluttered, staggered, / Felt feebly for her crown” (13-14). Many are stunned as time slowly erases the marks of youth. The word “feebly” in line 14 produces an image of old age. The morning is stunned that the diadem she possessed will be the only one she possesses. youth is experienced only once.

Off rhyme: we are once again jolted by the off rhyme in the last stanza. Dickinson forces the reader to ponder her last word carefully. Is it a caution to not waste our youth with arrogance and vanity?

Theme: Nature gives us one youth, one morning–don’t screw it up.

Pigmy Seraphs Gone Astray

Pigmy seraphs—gone astray–
Velvet people from Vevay–
Balles from some lost summer day–
Bees exclusive Coterie–
Paris could not lay the fold
Belted down with Emerald–
Venice could not show a check
Of a tint so lustrous meek–
Never such an Ambuscade
As of briar and leaf displayed
For my little damask maid–I had rather wear her grace
Than an Earl’s distinguished face–
I had rather dwell like her
Than be “Duke of Exeter”–
Royalty enough for me
To subdue the Bumblebee.

Analysis of Emily Dickinson Nature Poems: “Pigmy Seraphs Gone Astray”

  1. Rhyme Scheme: aaaabbccdddeeffgg
  2. The first four lines describe a rose.
  3. Lines 5-8 compare the rose to the most beautiful cities in Europe, none of which match the beauty of a rose.
  4. Lines 9-13 states how the speaker of the poem would rather possess the beauty of a rose than have the face of a distinguished Earl.
  5. In lines 14-17, the speaker asserts the rose has conquered something much more grand than anything conquered by the Duke of Exeter.
  6. Theme: Roses are purdy!
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