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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

DAY UNDRESSED HERSELF, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography


Emily Dickinson's poem, "The Day undressed - Herself -," is a vivid personification of the day as a woman who undresses as she transitions from daylight to darkness. The poem consists of four quatrains.. Through rich imagery and metaphor, the poet invites the reader to contemplate the inexorable yet beautiful passage of time, akin to the process of aging.

The opening lines, "The Day undressed - Herself - / Her Garter - was of Gold -," paint a striking picture of the day as a woman shedding her garments. The day is adorned in garments of "Gold" and "Purple plain," colors that traditionally symbolize royalty and divinity. It is as if the day has been wearing these celestial garments as her attire, and as she undresses, she discloses the mysteries of time and space.

"Her Dimities - as old / Exactly - as the World -" suggests that while the day is as ancient as the world itself, "the newest Star / Enrolled upon the Hemisphere / Be wrinkled - much as Her -." The day, like the newest star, bears wrinkles; it has been aged and weathered by time. This presents the idea that even celestial bodies age, much like humans and everything else in the natural world.

The stanza, "Too near to God - to pray - / Too near to Heaven - to fear -," poses the day as a divine entity too close to God and Heaven to be troubled by human concerns like prayer or fear. "The Lady of the Occident / Retired without a care -," further cements her godly status. As a celestial entity that governs the occurrences from dawn to dusk, she is unconcerned with mortal matters.

The final stanza, "Her Candle so expire / The flickering be seen / On Ball of Mast in Bosporus - / And Dome - and Window Pane -," portrays the day's end as a candle extinguishing its flame. This candle's last flicker of light is so powerful that it can be seen on the "Ball of Mast in Bosporus," as well as on a "Dome" and a "Window Pane." This image serves as a beautiful metaphor for the dying light of the day that illuminates both natural and man-made spaces one last time before plunging into darkness.

In this poem, Dickinson personifies the day to explore themes of aging, celestial beauty, and the divine. She merges the earthly and the ethereal, contrasting the temporal with the eternal. The day, despite her age, still holds beauty and grandeur that affect both the heavens and the Earth. In doing so, the poem points to the interconnection between earthly life and celestial existence, emphasizing that even in the process of "undressing" or decay, there is beauty and significance. The poem serves as a testament to the cycles of life and time - ever-aging, yet ever-beautiful.


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