You cannot put a Fire out —
A Thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a Fan —
Upon the slowest Night —

You cannot fold a Flood —
And put it in a Drawer —
Because the Winds would find it out —
And tell your Cedar Floor —

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem You cannot put a Fire out —


  1. Jessica Thivierge says:

    I feel like this poem is Dickinson’s best neglected poem. It is a perfect example of Romantic poetry, showing the heightened interest in nature. This poem shows how powerful nature is, and that nothing humans do can change its actions. A fire that can ignite can extinguish without the help of other forces. There is no explanation other than nature’s power. This poem hints that nature is all connected in the last stanza. Dickinson uses her imagination when she writes about putting a flood into a dresser drawer.

  2. Danelle Faw says:

    I really thought this poem should be included in the more popular canon because it is highly representational of Dickinson’s views on humanity, the natural world, and levels of personal consciousness. The idea that nature can not be tamed is a romantic ideal tha Dickinson embraces in this poem with lines such as “you cannot fold a Flood-and put in in a drawer.” Althought Dickinson holds true to some romantic ideals, she represents nature as forceful, unpredictable, and full of disaster, which is more like poe-ish dark romanticism.
    Levels of consciousness are also suggested in this poem by metaphorically using the 4 elements as thoughts, memories, emotions, etc. A fire that cannot be put out is like a memory that cannot truly be erased from the mind, and a flood that cannot be stashed in a drawer, or corner represents emotions that cannot be covered up or hidden. The natural world is always there…omnipresent just like our thoughts. Conformity isn’t so easy!

  3. Charisse Powell says:

    This is one of my 2 favorite poems. The other is “a word is dead” also by Emily Dickinson. Dickinson was a wonderful writer of poetry, and her poetry has a depth to it that is not easily compared to.

  4. Lilo06 says:

    I really like this poem. In my high school AP English class, we are studying Emily Dickinson and other Transcendentalist writings from others like Thoreau and Emerson. So far, Emily Dickinson’s poems have been my favorite. What I love about her poems is that you can read as far and as deep into them as you want to. Not everyone will get the same meaning as someone else does. Anyway, there are many ways this poem can be interperated. When I read it, it seemed to me that she might be talking about life and sin. In her other poems like “Hope” and “Faith Is A Fine Invention”, she talks about God and having faith in things of higher power. I think in this poem that fire and the flood represent secret sins that we commit. You cannot hide these sins, although we may try to hide them. Eventually we will have to account for them. When she states that “because the winds would find it out and tell your cedar floor”, I think that she is saying that our sins will ultimately be found out. God always knows about them, and so do you. Well, that’s just my view on the poem. like I said, they can be interperated in so many different ways. That’s what makes them so beautiful.

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