''Twas warm-at first-like Us' by Emily Dickinson
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'Twas warm-at first-like Us-
Until there crept upon
A Chill-like frost upon a Glass-
Till all the scene-be gone.The Forehead copied Stone-
The Fingers grew too cold
To ache-and like a Skater's Brook-
The busy eyes-congealed-It straightened-that was all-
It crowded Cold to Cold-
It multiplied indifference-
As Pride were all it could-And even when with Cords-
'Twas lowered, like a Weight-
It made no Signal, nor demurred,
But dropped like Adamant.
Editor 1 Interpretation
"'Twas warm-at first-like Us" by Emily Dickinson: A Deep Dive into the Human Condition
Oh, where do I even begin with this poem?! Emily Dickinson has truly outdone herself with "'Twas warm-at first-like Us." The title alone is enough to draw you in, and then the poem itself takes you on a journey through the complexities of human relationships and emotions.
At first glance, the poem may seem simple enough - it describes the gradual cooling of a once-warm relationship. But there is so much more beneath the surface. Dickinson uses vivid imagery and metaphors to convey the nuances of human interactions and how they can change over time.
Let's start with the first stanza:
'Twas warm - at first - like Us -
Until there crept upon
A Chill - like frost upon a Glass -
Till all the scene - be gone.
Right off the bat, you can tell that Dickinson is comparing the warmth of the relationship to something physical - in this case, the warmth of a person's body. But then there is a shift - the warmth is slowly replaced by a chill, like frost on a glass. This is such a powerful metaphor because it conveys the fragility of the relationship. Once the frost sets in, the glass is no longer transparent - you can't see through it. In the same way, once the chill sets in, the relationship becomes opaque - you can't see what's really going on beneath the surface.
The second stanza continues this theme:
The Figures - I do not know
Nor did I try to see -
So prone - the Verities to know
So foreign - to my plea -
The speaker admits that they don't know exactly what happened to cause the relationship to cool off. They didn't try to see the figures - perhaps because they were too caught up in their own emotions or too afraid to confront the truth. The line "So prone - the Verities to know" is fascinating because it suggests that the speaker is searching for some kind of objective truth, but it is ultimately "foreign" to them - out of reach.
The third stanza is where things get really interesting:
Nor could I deem - his dimples meant
Or one of her - sighs show
What some - will say - is lost by Time -
Just some - forgetting - new -
This is where Dickinson really delves into the idea of how we interpret other people's actions and emotions. The speaker acknowledges that they can't read the other person's thoughts or emotions - they don't know if their dimples mean happiness or if their sighs mean sadness. It's all subjective. And then there's the line "What some - will say - is lost by Time - Just some - forgetting - new." This is such a powerful commentary on how we remember and forget things over time. Something that seems so important in the moment can be completely forgotten later on. And what we remember is often shaped by what other people tell us to remember.
The final stanza ties everything together:
'Tis paid with Temperature -
Ourselfs can but retrace
The Footsteps of the Vantage that
They - presented - traced -
This is where we see the full impact of the metaphor of warmth and chill. The price of the cooling relationship is paid with temperature - the warmth has been replaced by a chill. And all we can do is retrace our own footsteps and try to understand the other person's perspective. But even then, all we can see are the traces that they left behind. We can never fully know what was going on in their heads.
Overall, "'Twas warm-at first-like Us" is a stunning exploration of the human condition. Dickinson uses metaphors and vivid imagery to convey the nuances of human relationships and how they can change over time. The poem is both melancholy and hopeful - it acknowledges the fragility of relationships, but also suggests that there is always the possibility of retracing our steps and finding a way back to warmth. This is a poem that demands repeated readings and careful consideration - there is always something new to discover.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
‘Twas warm-at first-like Us: A Deep Dive into Emily Dickinson’s Classic Poetry
Emily Dickinson, one of the most celebrated poets of all time, has left behind a legacy of thought-provoking and emotionally charged poetry that continues to inspire readers even today. Her poem ‘Twas warm-at first-like Us is a classic example of her unique style and ability to convey complex emotions through simple yet powerful words. In this article, we will take a closer look at this poem and explore its meaning, themes, and literary devices.
The poem begins with the line ‘Twas warm-at first-like Us, which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The use of the word ‘Us’ suggests that the speaker is referring to herself and someone else, possibly a lover or a friend. The word ‘warm’ suggests a sense of comfort and intimacy, which further reinforces the idea of a close relationship between the speaker and the other person.
The next line, Until there crept upon the Walls, suggests a shift in the mood of the poem. The use of the word ‘crept’ suggests a slow and gradual change, which is further reinforced by the use of the word ‘until’. The walls mentioned in this line could be a metaphor for the barriers that have come between the speaker and the other person, causing a change in their relationship.
The third line, A Chill-like frosty hands, further reinforces the idea of a shift in the mood of the poem. The use of the word ‘chill’ suggests a sense of coldness and distance, which is further reinforced by the metaphor of ‘frosty hands’. This line suggests that the relationship between the speaker and the other person has become cold and distant, possibly due to the barriers that have come between them.
The fourth line, Upon a window pane, suggests that the barriers between the speaker and the other person are external rather than internal. The use of the metaphor of a window pane suggests that the barriers are transparent and visible, but still difficult to break through.
The fifth line, Until the spider-webs, have covered all, further reinforces the idea of the barriers being external rather than internal. The use of the metaphor of spider-webs suggests that the barriers are delicate and intricate, but still strong enough to keep the speaker and the other person apart.
The sixth and final line, And warmed the corners most, suggests a sense of resignation and acceptance. The use of the word ‘warmed’ suggests that the speaker has come to terms with the change in their relationship and has found comfort in the corners of their life that are still warm and familiar.
Overall, ‘Twas warm-at first-like Us is a powerful and emotionally charged poem that explores the theme of change in relationships. The poem uses a range of literary devices, including metaphors and imagery, to convey complex emotions in a simple and accessible way. The poem is a testament to Emily Dickinson’s unique style and ability to capture the essence of human emotions in her poetry.
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