What does purple refer to in Dickinson's poem "My faith is larger than the hills"?

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

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The colour purple is normally associated with nobility and royalty, which in the poetry of Dickinson is normally linked to the royalty of Jesus Christ or God. Overtones of this symbolic significance of the colour purple are clear in this poem as well, as a close examination of the first stanza indicates. Note how the colour purple is used:

My Faith is larger than the Hills—
So when the Hills decay—
My Faith must take the Purple Wheel
To show the Sun the way—

The first stanza points towards the speaker's faith being "larger than the Hills," which means that in the event of the destruction of those "Hills," the "Purple Wheel" must be taken hold of by the speaker's faith in order to direct the sun on its course. That the sun's course is associated with the "Purple Wheel" indicates the royalty and noble position of the sun, which is personified in this poem.

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