An altered look about the hills —
A Tyrian light the village fills —
A wider sunrise in the morn —
A deeper twilight on the lawn —
A print of a vermillion foot —
A purple finger on the slope —
A flippant fly upon the pane —
A spider at his trade again —
An added strut in Chanticleer —
A flower expected everywhere —
An axe shrill singing in the woods —
Fern odors on untravelled roads —
All this and more I cannot tell —
A furtive look you know as well —
And Nicodemus’ Mystery
Receives its annual reply!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem An altered look about the hills


  1. Janet Siegfried says:

    Nicodemus asked Christ how a man can be born again and Emily is describing how in Spring Nature is reborn year after year!

  2. Jonas says:

    Important words to notice in this poem are “Tyrian”, “vermilion”, “chanticleer” and “Nicodemus”. However, Nicodemus it is better to just note John 3.4 for a reference of Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a Jewish leader who comes to Jesus, asking, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”

    So in the final lines of Dickinson’s poem, she is saying that the previous fourteen lines answer Nicodemus’s question!

    What is the answer? The biggest hint lies in the connotation of being born again (what Nicodemus is referring to) and the hint that Dickinson gives us: “its annual reply.”

    Think with it!

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