Not knowing when the Dawn will come,
I open every Door,
Or has it Feathers, like a Bird,
Or Billows, like a Shore —

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem Not knowing when the Dawn will come,


  1. Wei Li says:

    Dawn is preceded by the darkness of the night, as the beautiful, bright and colorful moments are often preceded by hardships, unknown, and difficult times. Opening every door sympbolizes the effort to be proactive and hopeful, as “Hope is the thing with feathers” in Emily’s other poem. Billows created by a Shore are forceful creations of nature, that provide a contrast to the gentleness of a Little Bird, and also symbolize the excitement of a new Dawn after so long a wait in the night.

  2. Edward Mondini says:

    Meaning one is open to all possibilities.
    The first step is agreeing to oneself it’s ok to explore new experiences, free of preconceptions.
    No one possibility is permanent, just that it adds to one’s ever-expanding limitless dimensions.
    Thus Dickinson’s other poem:

    “Success is counted sweetest
    By those who ne’er succeed.”

  3. Diane Balch says:

    Dawn is the beginning of the day. Not knowing when it will come means that the narrator doesn’t know when a new beginning will happen, so she opens doors looking for it. She is not certain what this new beginning will look like if it will be feathered like a bird, meaning will it come from the sky, which could be symbolically from God or Heaven or will it be billows like a shore. Billows are a mass of something, the opposite of sky which doesn’t appear to have mass. A shore is a defined area unlike a sky. So the narrator questions will the new beginning be a messenger from the heavens, a bird or a mass, like billows on a shore that are definitely from the earth. A spiritual beginning represented by a bird, unbound by earth, or a material beginning, represented by the billows of most likely waves at the shore.

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