There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields –
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!
Emily Dickinson was a particularly eccentric woman, and her hundreds of poems reflected this. She capitalized many words on a whim, used dashes against the usual rules, and rarely gave a title to anything she wrote. In the poem “There is Another Sky,” (named after the first line,) Dickinson speaks to her brother using a metaphor, an image, and her usual interesting choice in words to give the reader a window into her feelings about what is happening.
At the beginning of the poem, Dickinson speaks about another place, “another sky,” that is better than earth, even “though it be darkness there.” She uses this place as a metaphor for some sort of afterlife, which is likely Heaven. She speaks of this afterlife, saying that the leaves are ever green, a frost has never come, and that one can hear the hum of bees in the unfading flowers. The ever-greenness of the leaves is a picture of the health and healing that she believes comes in the afterlife, and the lack of frost is a repetition of that idea. The humming of the bees contrasts the sad, “silent fields” of our world.
Dickinson’s imagery is another powerful element used heavily in this piece. The reader would not be able to read without immediately seeing in his mind everything she describes. As she opens the poem, one begins to see a vast, calm sky and a sunshine apart from our own, shining down on little groves of forests and bright gardens full of bright flowers. When one stops to consider this wording, it certainly sounds like a contrast to the way Biblical authors speak of this earth, saying “The sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes.” (James 1:11, from the ESV) In other words, while the Bible describes the fading flower of this world, Dickinson’s poem describes the unfading one of the next.
Throughout the poem, the creative poetess uses words that would not immediately come to the average person’s mind when describing the subjects at hand. For instance, she tells her brother to “Never mind faded forests.” While the reader may not easily be able to describe exactly what she is communicating, most would at least be able to feel what she means. A faded forest feels like a dark and dismal place of docile colors and little activity. Dickinson does the same thing with the words “silent fields.” A field being silent may not at first appear to be poetic, but she is not merely speaking of a field absent of farming equipment. This feeling she sets in the reader’s soul is depressing, almost post-apocalyptic. When understood in this light, it certainly makes the bright garden and bright bee seem much more welcoming.
Each of these three examples are only a sample of the force of poetic wisdom behind Dickinson’s famous poetry. By easily setting up metaphors, painting a clear image in the reader’s mind, and using words that magically give the right feeling, Emily Dickinson crafted poetry that will last forever in the minds of poetic pros and amateurs across the world.
(Note: if a search engine brought you here, stick around for a moment and check out some recent posts. I like to write about the Evangelical Christian movement in the United States, as well as mindfulness as a response to the attention economy.)