'We Grow Accustomed To The Dark' by Emily Dickinson
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We grow accustomed to the Dark—
When light is put away—
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye—
A Moment—We uncertain step
For newness of the night—
Then—fit our Vision to the Dark—
And meet the Road—erect—
And so of larger—Darkness—
Those Evenings of the Brain—
When not a Moon disclose a sign—
Or Star—come out—within—
The Bravest—grope a little—
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead—
But as they learn to see—
Either the Darkness alters—
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight—
And Life steps almost straight.
Editor 1 Interpretation
We Grow Accustomed To The Dark by Emily Dickinson: A Deep Dive into the Darkness
I don't know about you, but I can't help but get excited whenever I read a poem by Emily Dickinson. There's something about the way she uses language that just grabs me by the heartstrings and won't let go. And her poem, "We Grow Accustomed To The Dark," is no exception.
At its core, this poem is about the way we adapt to difficult circumstances over time. But it's also so much more than that. In this 4000-word literary criticism and interpretation, we'll explore the themes, symbolism, and language used in "We Grow Accustomed To The Dark" to uncover the deeper meanings hidden within this classic poem.
Context and Background
First, let's take a quick look at the context and background of the poem. Emily Dickinson was a poet who lived in the mid-1800s in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was known for her reclusive nature and her unconventional use of language and form in her poetry, which often dealt with themes of death, nature, and spirituality.
"We Grow Accustomed To The Dark" was written sometime between 1861 and 1865, during the American Civil War. Dickinson was known to have struggled with depression and anxiety throughout her life, and some scholars believe that this poem may have been written during a particularly difficult period for her.
One of the central themes in "We Grow Accustomed To The Dark" is adaptation. The poem describes how, over time, we become accustomed to darkness and learn to navigate it, even though it may be frightening or disorienting at first.
But there's also a sense of resignation in the poem, a recognition that sometimes we simply have to accept the darkness and find our way through it as best we can. This theme of acceptance is echoed in the final lines of the poem, when the speaker says, "And with a mighty hand / To seize the present? / Is immortality / Then, ascribed, / To the long sleep, / And darkness, as their tribe?"
There's also a sense of isolation and loneliness in the poem, as the speaker describes wandering alone in the darkness. This theme of loneliness is a common one in Dickinson's poetry, and it's often linked to her own feelings of isolation and withdrawal from society.
As with many of Emily Dickinson's poems, there's a rich layer of symbolism in "We Grow Accustomed To The Dark." Let's take a closer look at some of the key symbols in the poem.
Of course, the most obvious symbol in the poem is darkness itself. Darkness represents the unknown, the uncertain, the frightening. It's the opposite of light, which represents clarity, safety, and understanding.
But darkness can also be a metaphor for emotional or psychological states. It can represent depression, anxiety, or grief, all of which are difficult to navigate and can leave us feeling lost and alone.
The road that the speaker walks on throughout the poem is another important symbol. The road represents the journey through life, with all its twists and turns, ups and downs. It's a metaphor for the path that we must each follow, even when we can't see where it's leading us.
The stars that the speaker glimpses in the third stanza are a symbol of hope and light in the darkness. They represent the possibility of something beautiful and inspiring even in the midst of difficulty.
Finally, the house that the speaker sees at the end of the poem is a symbol of safety and security. It represents a place of refuge, a home where the speaker can rest and be at peace.
The language used in "We Grow Accustomed To The Dark" is both simple and complex at the same time. Dickinson's use of short, straightforward words and phrases creates a sense of immediacy and directness, while her use of metaphor and symbolism adds depth and complexity to the poem.
One of the most striking features of the language in this poem is its use of repetition. The phrase "we grow accustomed to the dark" is repeated several times throughout the poem, creating a sense of rhythm and continuity. This repetition also reinforces the central theme of adaptation and acceptance.
Another notable feature of the language in the poem is its use of imagery. Dickinson's descriptions of the darkness, the road, and the stars create vivid mental pictures that allow the reader to visualize the speaker's journey through the darkness.
So what does "We Grow Accustomed To The Dark" mean, exactly? As with many of Emily Dickinson's poems, there's no one "right" interpretation. But here are a few possible ways to read this poem.
The Journey Through Life
One interpretation of the poem is that it's a metaphor for the journey through life. The darkness represents the unknown and uncertain future that each of us must face, while the road represents the path that we must follow, even when we can't see where it's leading us.
The stars that the speaker glimpses represent moments of hope and inspiration that light our way through the darkness, while the house at the end of the poem represents a place of safety and security, where we can rest and be at peace.
Coping with Depression
Another possible interpretation of the poem is that it's a metaphor for coping with depression. The darkness represents the emotional and psychological state of depression, while the road represents the journey through this difficult period.
The stars that the speaker glimpses represent moments of hope and light that can help us through our darkest moments, while the house at the end of the poem represents a place of safety and security where we can find refuge.
The Mystery of Death
Finally, some readers may interpret the poem as a meditation on the mystery of death. The darkness represents the unknown and uncertain future that we all must face, while the road represents the journey that we must take through this unknown territory.
The stars that the speaker glimpses represent the possibility of something beautiful and inspiring beyond this life, while the house at the end of the poem represents the ultimate destination, a place of rest and peace after the journey is over.
"We Grow Accustomed To The Dark" is a powerful and deeply moving poem that explores themes of adaptation, acceptance, isolation, and hope. Through its use of symbolism, language, and imagery, the poem invites us to reflect on our own journeys through life and to find comfort and inspiration in the midst of difficulty.
Whether we interpret the poem as a meditation on death, a metaphor for coping with depression, or a journey through life, one thing is clear: Emily Dickinson's words continue to resonate with readers today, more than 150 years after they were first written.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
We Grow Accustomed To The Dark: A Masterpiece by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson, one of the greatest poets of all time, is known for her unique style of writing that often explores the themes of death, nature, and spirituality. Her poem, "We Grow Accustomed To The Dark," is a masterpiece that delves into the human experience of darkness and how we adapt to it over time.
The poem begins with a simple statement, "We grow accustomed to the Dark," which sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The speaker suggests that darkness is something that we become familiar with, almost as if it is a part of our daily routine. The use of the word "accustomed" implies that darkness is not something that we fear or avoid, but rather something that we accept and even embrace.
As the poem progresses, the speaker describes the different ways in which we interact with darkness. She writes, "As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp / To witness her Goodbye." Here, the speaker is describing a scene in which someone is saying goodbye to a neighbor, and the neighbor is holding a lamp to light the way. This image is significant because it shows how we rely on light to guide us through the darkness. The lamp represents hope and comfort in a world that can often feel overwhelming and scary.
The next stanza continues this theme of relying on light in the darkness. The speaker writes, "A Moment—We uncertain step / For newness of the night." This line suggests that even when we have a source of light, we can still feel uncertain and unsure in the darkness. The darkness can be disorienting and make us feel like we are stumbling blindly through the night.
The third stanza of the poem takes a turn and explores the idea of darkness as a metaphor for emotional pain. The speaker writes, "And Life steps almost straight." Here, the speaker is suggesting that when we are in emotional pain, it can feel like we are walking through darkness. We may feel lost and unsure of where to go next. However, the use of the word "almost" suggests that even in the darkness, there is still a path to follow. We may not be able to see it clearly, but it is there.
The final stanza of the poem brings everything full circle. The speaker writes, "And so of larger—Darknesses— / Those Evenings of the Brain— / When not a Moon disclose a sign— / Or Star—come out—within—." Here, the speaker is suggesting that there are times when the darkness is even more profound than what we experience in our daily lives. These "larger-Darknesses" are the moments when we feel truly lost and alone. The darkness can be overwhelming, and we may feel like there is no way out.
However, the speaker ends the poem on a hopeful note. She writes, "The Bravest—grope a little— / And sometimes hit a Tree / Directly in the Forehead— / But as they learn to see—." This final stanza suggests that even in the darkest moments of our lives, there is still hope. We may stumble and fall, but eventually, we will learn to see in the darkness. We will find our way out and emerge stronger for having gone through the experience.
In conclusion, "We Grow Accustomed To The Dark" is a powerful poem that explores the human experience of darkness. Through her use of metaphor and imagery, Emily Dickinson shows us that darkness is not something to be feared but rather something that we can learn to navigate. Whether it is the darkness of the night or the darkness of emotional pain, there is always a way through. The poem is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a reminder that even in the darkest moments, there is still hope.
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