Please give an analysis of the poem "Wild Nights--Wild Nights!" by Emily Dickinson.

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One of the reasons I like this poem so much is that it absolutely makes it impossible to argue that Emily Dickinson was just an isolated old maid without any idea of what it means to love. Isolated she may well have been, but poetry such as this indicates the way that she experienced love in its fullest sense, and the overt sexual imagery in this poem clearly indicates that she was not a prude.

This poem is above all the yearning of a lover for the return of her beloved and the idea of the passionate embraces that await her. The "wild nights" of the title seem to refer to some kind of storm or tempest that relates to the intensity of the speaker's feelings and how their reunion will lead to storms of their own making in the "luxury" of their embrace. The introduction of the "wild nights" also presents us with the extended metaphor that dominates the poem, as voyaging on a boat in the sea is compared with the reunion of the lovers.

The second stanza develops this metaphor by arguing that the speaker is safe and protected being in port with her lover. There is now no need to guide or direct herself as she has reached her goal. Even the strongest winds of the storm cannot impact her now:

Futile the winds 
To a heart in port, 
Done with the compass, 
Done with the chart.

There is a sense in which this stanza yet again represents a tempestuous relationship. If we see the "compass" and the "chart" as perhaps maps to guide us in our lives, the willing abandonment of these could be argued to represent an abandonment of self to the force of the love the speaker has.

Lastly, the final stanza represents the most overt sexual image, as the speaker imagines herself to be in "Eden," obviously a symbol of paradise, and wishes that she were able to "moor / To-night in thee!" Some critics argue that this final image represents the sexual culmination of the relationship and the desire of the speaker. Either way, this poem is one where the passion and desire jumps out at you.

We’ve answered 317,762 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question