There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons —
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes —
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us —
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are —
None may teach it — Any —
‘Tis the Seal Despair —
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air —
When it comes, the Landscape listens —
Shadows — hold their breath —
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death —
This poem seems not so much about a particular experience as it is about the mystery of nature itself, the tragic transience of beauty. She loves paradox and irony: “Cathedral tunes” evokes both majestic splendor and whistle-while-you-work. “Heavenly hurt” is a lament that whatever life is, it goes away in the end, and no one escapes the “internal difference”. What she seems to want is for everyone to “get it,” to grasp the perceptual potential of human life in this world.
This poem is about a certain slant of light. Ifyou have never seen the slant of light Emily describes, you cannot understand the poem.If you have, the poem is easy.
This poem is about her watching a wedding. It hurts her because she has never been married. The pain can not be shown on her physically. ‘But internal difference,Where the meanings are’ her heart ache’s. When she sees love happen it’s like the world stands still ‘When it comes, the Landscape listens —
Shadows — hold their breath ‘ but when it’s over and the married couple are finished displaying affection publicly it’s depressing to her because she may feel like she will never have that and it’s in the ‘distance’ and it hurts so much because it might never come at all it’s as if ‘the look of death’
A feeling of despair when looking on a winter afternoon.