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Analysis and comments on This -- is the land -- the Sunset washes by Emily Dickinson

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Comment 1 of 70, added on October 3rd, 2004 at 6:07 PM.

Emily Dickinson's poem 'This is the land the sunset washes':

On one level this poem is about an observer watching ships coming into port
at sunset. The ships disgorge their cargo then vanish on the horizon.

On a second level this poem is about an event that occurs over and over
again, as if the event has its own mind and that its action has a momentum
of its own and that it operates and repeats itself with some mysterious
power and direction unknown to anyone.

The sun rises and sets like clockwork. On one level we say we know why
this happens. On a second level we may ask why it does this, what is its
purpose? On a second level we're asking about the reason of the universe.
Why does it exist?

There is a third level one may persue concerning this poem--the question
here is whether this repeated disgorgement of a ship's cargo ever happened
at all. The ships come and go on a routine schedule but if noone is
watching, does the repeated event even happen. The ships poise on the
horison then vanish.

One could easily get the following picture of this poet's description of
ships delivering their cargo:

The sun is setting somewhere in the orient. Merchant ships come streaming
in off a black sea. The light is poor and the ships appear purple in
color. There is a scurry of activity as men unload the ships. The ships
head out to sea again and disappear over a black horizon. The ships, the
darkness, the hurried and seemingly mindless activity occurs over and over
again and like the tide, comes and goes. The tide moves in a mindless
repetition and one can deduce the merchant ships perform in the same
fassion. What is the meaning of the tide, what is the meaning of the
merchant ships. They are both the great western mystery

The scene of this poem obviously occurs in the orient--- Banks of the
Yellow Sea.

Purple traffic alludes to death traffic, traffic occuring at night,
mysterious, shady, misty and quiet, almost ghost like




Robert Dingas from United States

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Information about This -- is the land -- the Sunset washes

Poet: Emily Dickinson
Poem: 266. This -- is the land -- the Sunset washes
Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Year: 1955
Added: Jan 9 2004
Viewed: 963 times


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