These are the days when Birds come back

These are the days when Birds come back —
A very few — a Bird or two —
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies resume
The old — old sophistries of June —
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee —
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief.

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear —
And softly thro’ the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf.

Oh Sacrament of summer days,
Oh Last Communion in the Haze —
Permit a child to join.

Thy sacred emblems to partake —
They consecrated bread to take
And thine immortal wine!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem These are the days when Birds come back

9 Comments

  1. Debra says:

    I think Emily is just talking about how we are deceived by our senses. We cannot trust what we see, we need to be more keen in our judgements.

  2. Adrian Wassel says:

    The first two stanzas introduce a change in season that is both sudden and false (“sophistries”). Thus, I believe Dickinson is referring to an Indian Summer, where cold weather is experienced one day and warm the next. Such is why only a few birds are duped into returning from their migration. The “blue and gold mistake” emphasizes this feeling of a change in temperature which should not have occurred, and is seemingly unreal. For some reason “a blue and gold mistake” also brought imagery of death to my mind, which at first seemed out of place, but I believe shares a connection with the Indian Summer. It is the brief, fleeting sense of summer (life) as the cold, winter approaches (death). “Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee,” seems to say that though this Indian Summer has a few of the birds guessing what season it truly is, such duplicity has not fooled the bees. The next two lines stress that the trickery has “almost” fooled Dickinson as well – here, I must stress “almost.” This line also serves as the introduction to what I believe is the theme of the poem – religion and the afterlife – with the word “belief”.
    As the poem continues, the religious allusions become far more obvious and meaningful. The next stanza brings us back to the change in season with the “altered air.” Here, I noticed that the word “altered” also fits quite well with the religious theme. In the last two stanzas the religious allusions are rampant, forming meaning and shape in each line. “Sacrament,” “Last Communion,” “sacred emblems,” “consecrated bread,” and “immortal wine” finally brought me to my best understanding of this poem. Dickinson has created a metaphor of the Indian Summer, filled with religious allusions, to discuss faith in the afterlife and the immortality it supposedly grants. I believe that Dickinson is asserting that the afterlife and faith in immortality through heaven, is an illusion much like an Indian Summer. It fools us, with a taste, a hope of life as death is coming, but that inevitably the Last Communion – final judgment before death – is actually nothing more than a chicanery, that immortality cannot be found through religion, for we must remember that the ‘Indian Summer’ only “almost” fooled her.

  3. Adrian Wassel says:

    The first two stanzas introduce a change in season that is both sudden and false (“sophistries”). Thus, I believe Dickinson is referring to an Indian Summer, where cold weather is experienced one day and warm the next. Such is why only a few birds are duped into returning from their migration. The “blue and gold mistake” emphasizes this feeling of a change in temperature which should not have occurred, and is seemingly unreal. For some reason “a blue and gold mistake” also brought imagery of death to my mind, which at first seemed out of place, but I believe shares a connection with the Indian Summer. It is the brief, fleeting sense of summer (life) as the cold, winter approaches (death). “Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee,” seems to say that though this Indian Summer has a few of the birds guessing what season it truly is, such duplicity has not fooled the bees. The next two lines stress that the trickery has “almost” fooled Dickinson as well – here, I must stress “almost.” This line also serves as the introduction to what I believe is the theme of the poem – religion and the afterlife – with the word “belief”.
    As the poem continues, the religious allusions become far more obvious and meaningful. The next stanza brings us back to the change in season with the “altered air.” Here, I noticed that the word “altered” also fits quite well with the religious theme. In the last two stanzas the religious allusions are rampant, forming meaning and shape in each line. “Sacrament,” “Last Communion,” “sacred emblems,” “consecrated bread,” and “immortal wine” finally brought me to my best understanding of this poem. Dickinson has created a metaphor of the Indian Summer, filled with religious allusions, to discuss faith in the afterlife and the immortality it supposedly grants. I believe that Dickinson is asserting that the afterlife and faith in immortality through heaven, is an illusion much like an Indian Summer. It fools us, with a taste, a hope of life as death is coming, but that inevitably the Last Communion – final judgment before death – is actually nothing more than a chicanery, that immortality cannot be found through religion, for we must remember that the ‘Indian Summer’ only “almost” fooled her.

  4. George Wolff says:

    I agree with k but not with Sarah. The deceptive and temporary beauty of an Indian summer “ALMOST induces” the speaker’s belief, but she will not be fooled by what it would be nice to think. Dickinson was a naturalist and a nonbeliever, a tough-minded realist.

  5. Jim says:

    The birds coming back is meant to be the beginning of summer, when the birds come back… however, the poem is a progression through summer. Summer makes us feel young and invincible. Yet the changing of the season’s represents death

  6. K says:

    Second from last line should read, “Thy consecrated…”

    It’s about Indian Summer, a climatic condition in New England, other places. Take care, pilgrims.

  7. lisa says:

    how can it be about winter coming if the birds are coming BACK? if they’re coming back, they would have had to leave. durr?

  8. sarah says:

    This poem is so much more than just about the intuition of animals. It is very religious (the allusions are rampant) and the poem itself discusses an ‘indian summer’ or if taken figuratively a season when death is approaching but the vitality of summer is still there — the last communion being the final confession before death, the fact that she is almost fooled by the summer or the life that is still present before death — and that she looks for immortality and is hopeful but unsure of it.

  9. A. Hepburn says:

    This is a Lovely poem, that speaks about nature in a sense that shows animals instinct for changes in the whether

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