Wild Nights — Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile — the Winds —
To a Heart in port —
Done with the Compass —
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden —
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor — Tonight —
In Thee!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem Wild Nights — Wild Nights!


  1. blackbud says:

    it is my fate to read this enchanting poem,when I have no sentiment to relish.blessed with the overwhelming storm of the boundless darkness,we will never be alone in the peaceful daylight

  2. Marissa says:

    In this poem I think Emily Dickinson speaks fairly clearly what she is talking about, especially when you read a selection from what Colonel Higginson wrote to his co-editor in 1891, when an edition of Emily Dickinson’s poems was being prepared. He wrote:

    One poem only I dread a little to print–that wonderful ‘Wild Nights,’–lest the malignant read into it more than that virgin recluse ever dreamed of putting there.

    The poem was not omitted, but it does show the narrow-mindedness involving sexuality at this time period, for even then one-night stands were common as they are today. Whether she participated in these activities, or ever had sex in her life, will of course always remain unknown, but this is my insight on the poem:

    When she speaks of “Were I with thee” it sounds as though she is remembering a past time of having sex, or perhaps is just thinking wishfully of sex. She continues with “Wild nights should be our luxury” which sounds like maybe the man she is speaking about told her he was too busy to see her or something…then she says “Futile the winds to a heart in port” which I believe to mean basically that no one can stop a person or a “heart” in love…perhaps not even this man’s wife? She then says “done with the compass, done with the chart” which maybe means that she is tired of rules and guidelines, or perhaps she is tired of how society views things; after all she did become a recluse, and disagreed greatly with society, especially along the lines of religion…
    Anyway, she continues “rowing in Eden” which perhaps means something about passing through sin, or passing through knowledge, because as the bible reads, the Garden of Eden did not stay holy forever, and in fact contained sin and the knowledge of evil (as well as good, of course, but that is beside the point) So maybe she is saying how she would be gaining knowledge or sin. She finishes with “Might I but moor To-night in thee!” which perhaps she does not mean sexually at all (all you who’s minds are deeply in the gutter! :-D) but perhaps more in a way of staying near him, or even in his house, or perhaps just feeling safe with him for just one night, against society…maybe having him be on her side about having sex, when all of society is against her? Well that’s just my interpretation, anyway…good luck with whatever you’re doing! Report, essay, pleasure reading, etc…

  3. Federico says:

    I tried to read the poem as a travel by ship which last as long as life. It could happen that “Wild nights” of storm came to break up the calm and make us feel “alive” with their ensemble of storming emotions, but these are futile to a heart in port who has found his true love and thus sails into the calm water of the Eden, certain to have a safe place where to moor.

  4. Lamar Cole says:

    Life becomes so much sweeter for a person who is in love.

  5. Baptiste says:

    Just for a few more reflexions…
    Who can really say it is a man she speaks of ? It could be a woman, it could also be something else. The real subject toward which the poem is directed never really appear in the text and is ambiguous.

  6. Ronald says:

    I find Emily Dickenson’s poem “Wild Nights” full of un-experienced passion. The kind of passion found in the arms of a lover but can not be found in a one night stand. The moral foundation of ED background would preclude her from such unacceptable behavior. If she indeed had such a relationship we would see her express the remorse that would result in lustful passion. She is truly expressing her desire to be loved and the hope that she may overcome her fear of people

  7. Mike says:

    This is one of the best poems I have ever read. One of her best love peoms…

  8. Roshi says:

    i am writing an essay bout 500 word on this poem and i need more illustration on wat it means, i understand bout her motives for wild nights but the whole sense of the poem is just way to analitical. i need more

  9. Hailey says:

    I think Joseph is right concerning the promiscuity of Emiliy Dickinson. You have to remember that she lived in the mid to late 1800’s (one night stands and casual sex weren’t as frequent as they are now) and you also have to consider her personality. She was highly private and she completely devoted herself to her writings. However, these very characteristcs may be the reason for writing this secret expression of desire for something she wants but theoretically can not want. I think this poem could very well be an expression of a sexually related desire, especially when looking at lines like “down with the compass, Down with the charts” (which sound more spontaneous and irrational, the way her wanting to be with a man would have been viewed by her society) but the line “Might I but moor tonight In thee” is a reference to being held and embrassed in the arms of a man, a safe place to rest. I must say that I like this poem because it humanizes Emily Dickison and it is universal. Some people might find it difficult to relate to some of the topics her poems deal with (not all but some) but “Wild Nights” is primal and common to all humans at some point. The poem is an impassioned expression of longing for adventure, for passion, for companionship, for escape. It rocks.

  10. neobuccaneer says:

    I dont know, I think maybe this is about the desire to be with an man. She uses “were I”, “should be” and “luxury” as if this is more of a wishful state than real life. But it’s “futile” and I’m not sure if she’s the heart in port who is done with planning and plotting and she has decided that he’s the one and she’s done searching, already in her Eden – him. Or the man is the heart in port who may be taken or not available?
    I think it’s rather butch of her to want to moor (anchor herself) in him.

  11. Jeff Garcia says:

    This poem shows a lot of emotions and a lot of passion. It seems as though she had a few wild nights herself. I don’t really understand all of her poems but the first time i read it, it made a lot of sense to me.

  12. maureen milauskas says:

    She has a lovely way of expression in her free writting style. She describes the mood of the mind when it has made itself up to go out and have a ‘wild night.’

  13. Joseph says:

    One of the best love poems I’ve ever read. However, I disagree that Dickinson did actually have “wild nights”; I think that this poem is just her conception of what “wild nights” would be like.

  14. Audra Holland says:

    I used this poems as one of my favs in a report I was doing for school. I thinks that Dickinson can really relate the zeal of passionate emotion with this poem. I also believe that this poem shows that, even though Dickinson was in solitude most of her life, she had wild nights- for nothing is like a little lovemaking to make life a little sweeter.

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