An Explication of "The Day Came Slow Till Five O'Clock"

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Katie Nichols
Dr. Tyrer
ENGL 3380
Explication of Emily Dickinson’s “The Day Came Slow till Five o’Clock” This poem, written by Emily Dickinson, explores the theme of nature and its relationship to a sunrise coming over a hill. The poem describes the appearance of a sunrise as a female guest in a large house is watching it from her window. The poet describes the unique splendor of watching a sunrise mixed with the sounds of a war battle. The speaker seems to be speaking from an observant standpoint, perhaps from above or below, and has no role in the poem, except as a narrator. The speaker feels compelled to speak at this particular time because watching the sunset at this particular time seems to be significant to the woman.

The poem is sixteen lines, written in Iambic Tetrameter, and follows the abcbdefeghihjklk rhyme scheme. The poet starts the first stanza by using references to jewels to describe the appearance of the sunrise as it comes over a hill. She first describes the colors as “rubies” (3) and later, “topaz” (7). In the same stanza, after describing the sunrise, the poet mentions that “A sudden musket spills” (4), there is no mention of a year or an era, but the sound of a gunshot from a musket could symbolize that there is a war going on, and since the color of the sky is first described as “ruby”, it is safe to assume that blood may have spilled. The use of the rubies to describe both the colors of the sunrise and the notion of war is what makes the poem powerful in terms of the comparison between the two. The reference to topaz could refer to the calmness surrounding the gunfire or the light at the end of the tunnel, as well as the other colors in the scene. The poet continues to describe the sunrise in the next stanza, but in darker terms, stating that “The purple could not keep the east” (5), and “The sunrise shook from fold” (6). Given that it is implied in the first stanza that a war is going on, the sunrise shaking “from fold”...
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