What is Emily Dickinson's "Before you thought of spring" poem saying and how is it related to transcendentalism?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickinson's poem "Before you thought of spring" is a typical Transcendental poem.

Transcendentalism spoke to the importance of spiritual reality being the only reality which existed. Transcendentalists were idealists who focused on individual thought and self-reliance. Therefore, Dickinson's poem is one of personal spiritual thought, self-actualization and self-reliance.

The poem can be interpreted to describe the importance of finding ones own path with the help of visualization. In this poem, the narrator's help emerges in the form of a bird which, although "weather-worn", is able to find happiness in life through "shouts for joy" to "nobody but his seraphic self".

The tree can represent the joy one can find in life even "without a single leaf"- meaning that sometimes "nothing" is more important than "everything". The bird can be interpreted as a metaphor for the narrator in her own search for self-actualization and the ability to rely on ones own spiritual reality.