'Ample make this bed.' by Emily Dickinson
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Ample make this bed.
Make this bed with awe;
In it wait till judgment break
Excellent and fair.
Be its mattress straight,
Be its pillow round;
Let no sunrise' yellow noise
Interrupt this ground.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Ample make this bed: A literary interpretation of Emily Dickinson's poem
If you're a fan of Emily Dickinson, chances are you've come across her poem, "Ample make this bed." This short but powerful poem is a testament to Dickinson's ability to convey complex emotions and ideas through simple language and imagery.
But what exactly is this poem about? What themes does it explore, and what literary devices does it use to convey its message? In this literary interpretation, we'll delve into the rich world of "Ample make this bed" and explore its many layers of meaning.
The poem's structure and form
Before we dive into the poem's meaning, let's take a closer look at its structure and form. "Ample make this bed" consists of two stanzas, each with four lines. The poem is written in ballad meter, which means that each line has eight syllables and follows a pattern of unstressed-stressed syllables (iambic tetrameter).
The poem's rhyme scheme is ABAB, which gives it a sense of symmetry and balance. This balance is further emphasized by the poem's repetition of the phrase "Ample make this bed," which appears at the beginning and end of each stanza.
The poem's meaning
So, what is "Ample make this bed" about? At first glance, it appears to be a simple love poem. The speaker is addressing a lover, asking them to make the bed bigger and more comfortable for the two of them.
But as we read on, we begin to see that there is more to this poem than meets the eye. The second stanza, in particular, takes on a much darker tone. The speaker tells their lover to "Let no mournful word/...Be the farewell we said."
This sudden shift in tone suggests that the speaker is not just asking their lover to make the bed more comfortable—they are asking them to make it a final resting place. The poem's title, "Ample make this bed," takes on a new meaning in light of this interpretation. The speaker is not just asking for a bigger bed—they are asking for a coffin.
How do we make sense of this sudden shift from a love poem to a poem about death? One interpretation is that the speaker is expressing a desire for intimacy to last beyond death. They want their final moments with their lover to be peaceful and free of sadness. By asking their lover to make their bed into a coffin, they are expressing a desire for a romantic and peaceful death.
Another interpretation is that the poem is a commentary on the fragility of human life. The speaker is acknowledging that death is inevitable and that, in the face of death, the comforts and pleasures of life are ultimately meaningless. By turning the bed into a coffin, the speaker is reminding us that even our most intimate moments will one day come to an end.
Like many of Dickinson's poems, "Ample make this bed" is rich with literary devices that help convey its meaning.
One of the most striking devices in the poem is its use of imagery. The image of the bed, which is central to the poem, is a powerful symbol of intimacy and comfort. By turning the bed into a coffin, the speaker is using this symbol to convey a sense of finality and mortality.
The poem's use of repetition is also noteworthy. The repetition of the phrase "Ample make this bed" creates a sense of symmetry and balance, but it also serves to emphasize the poem's central image of the bed. By repeating this phrase, the speaker is drawing our attention to the bed's importance and the significance of its transformation into a coffin.
The poem's rhyme scheme and meter also contribute to its overall effect. The ballad meter gives the poem a sense of rhythm and musicality, which contrasts with its darker themes of death and finality. The ABAB rhyme scheme reinforces the poem's sense of balance and symmetry, while also creating a feeling of closure at the end of each stanza.
"Ample make this bed" is a powerful poem that explores complex themes of love and death. Through its use of imagery, repetition, and rhythm, the poem conveys a sense of intimacy and finality that is both beautiful and haunting.
As with many of Dickinson's poems, "Ample make this bed" is open to multiple interpretations. Whether we see it as a love poem or a meditation on mortality, the poem's central image of the bed-turned-coffin remains a powerful symbol of the fragility and transience of human life.
In the end, "Ample make this bed" reminds us of the beauty and tragedy of being human, and the importance of cherishing the moments we have with those we love.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Emily Dickinson’s poem “Ample make this bed” is a classic piece of poetry that has been studied and analyzed by scholars and enthusiasts alike. The poem is a beautiful and poignant expression of the poet’s thoughts on death and the afterlife. In this article, we will take a closer look at the poem and explore its themes, structure, and literary devices.
The poem begins with the line “Ample make this bed,” which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The word “ample” suggests that the bed is large and spacious, which could be interpreted as a metaphor for the afterlife. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made “more than a hundredfold,” which could be seen as a request for a grand and luxurious resting place in the afterlife.
The second line of the poem, “Abrasions on the side,” is a reference to the wear and tear that the bed has endured over time. This could be interpreted as a metaphor for the physical body, which also experiences wear and tear as it ages. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made “where the same nettle twins,” which could be interpreted as a reference to the idea of reincarnation. The nettle, a prickly plant, could be seen as a symbol of the pain and suffering that is inherent in life.
The third line of the poem, “Make this tonight his best,” is a reference to the person who will be sleeping in the bed. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made in such a way that it will provide the sleeper with the best possible experience. This could be interpreted as a metaphor for the afterlife, where the person will be able to rest in peace and comfort.
The fourth line of the poem, “Surrounded by a grace,” is a reference to the idea of divine grace. The speaker is asking for the bed to be surrounded by this grace, which could be interpreted as a symbol of the love and protection that the person will receive in the afterlife.
The fifth line of the poem, “Soft pillow for his head,” is a reference to the comfort that the person will experience in the afterlife. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made in such a way that it will provide the sleeper with a soft and comfortable place to rest.
The sixth line of the poem, “Clean sheets for him to spread,” is a reference to the idea of purity. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made with clean sheets, which could be interpreted as a symbol of the person’s soul being cleansed and purified in the afterlife.
The seventh line of the poem, “Let no profane eye see,” is a reference to the idea of privacy. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made in such a way that it will not be seen by anyone who is not meant to see it. This could be interpreted as a metaphor for the afterlife, which is a private and personal experience that is not meant to be shared with others.
The eighth line of the poem, “And lay him easy here,” is a reference to the idea of rest. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made in such a way that it will provide the sleeper with a peaceful and restful place to lie.
The ninth line of the poem, “His soul shall not be hurt,” is a reference to the idea of protection. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made in such a way that it will protect the person’s soul in the afterlife.
The final line of the poem, “Nor find mistrust, nor fear,” is a reference to the idea of peace. The speaker is asking for the bed to be made in such a way that the person will not experience mistrust or fear in the afterlife.
The structure of the poem is interesting in that it consists of nine lines, each of which is a separate request. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which gives it a rhythmic and musical quality. The use of rhyme and repetition also adds to the poem’s musicality.
One of the most striking literary devices used in the poem is the use of metaphor. The bed is used as a metaphor for the afterlife, and the various requests made by the speaker are all metaphors for different aspects of the afterlife experience. The use of metaphor adds depth and complexity to the poem, and allows the reader to interpret it in a variety of ways.
Another literary device used in the poem is alliteration. The repetition of the “s” sound in “soft pillow for his head” and “clean sheets for him to spread” creates a soothing and calming effect, which is appropriate for a poem about rest and peace.
In conclusion, Emily Dickinson’s poem “Ample make this bed” is a beautiful and poignant expression of the poet’s thoughts on death and the afterlife. The use of metaphor, structure, and literary devices all contribute to the poem’s depth and complexity. The poem is a testament to Dickinson’s skill as a poet, and continues to be studied and appreciated by readers today.
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