What is the tone in "I started Early – Took my Dog –"?  

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Tone is described as the author’s attitude toward the subject. To determine the tone of this Dickinson poem, we must first identify the subject.

The subject is the speaker’s encounter with the ocean as she goes for a walk with her dog. To precisely identify how she feels about this...

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Tone is described as the author’s attitude toward the subject. To determine the tone of this Dickinson poem, we must first identify the subject.

The subject is the speaker’s encounter with the ocean as she goes for a walk with her dog. To precisely identify how she feels about this subject, it is best to examine the diction and its connotation throughout the poem.

In the first two stanzas, the speaker uses words like “Mermaids,” “Frigates,” and “Sands” to establish a mystical image of the sea, which she perceives as extending “Hempen Hands” to her.

The tone in the third stanza changes, as indicated by the word “But.” Words like “Shoe,” “Apron,” “Belt,” and “Boddice” are used to describe how the incoming tide soaks the speaker from toe to chest. Rather than stepping out of the way to avoid being splashed, she remains transfixed, thinking about how no man has “moved” her. Paired with the discussion of her body as represented in her attire, this suggests that the speaker could be thinking about her sexuality.

As she turns to leave, the speaker imagines the sea trying to follow her, filling up her shoe with “Pearl,” a word which suggests that the sea treasures his encounter with the speaker. This indicates her desire to be sexually desired while establishing a tone of wonder.

In the final stanza, however, the speaker realizes that her fantasy is nothing but. When she returns to the man-made world of “the Solid Town,” the personified sea leaves her, “bowing.” While the tone is awestruck throughout most of the poem, the ending of the speaker’s encounter with the sea underscores her desire for contact and immersion.

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