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Purples of Ages—pause for you—
Sunset—reviews her Sapphire Regiment—
Day—drops you her Red Adieu!
Still—Clad in your Mail of ices—
Thigh of Granite—and thew—of Steel—
Heedless—alike—of pomp—or parting
According to legend, many islands of the chain of the Canary Islands, located off the coast of Spain, were believed to have been the uppermost peaks of the city of Atlantis. When Atlantis sank, these peaks were the only thing above sea level. This belief, then, seems applicable to Miss Dickinson's poem as the second line calls the island of Teneriffe the "retreating mountain." On this isle of Teneriffe, there is a volcano called El Tiede, the highest point in Spain, whose summit is covered with snow.
One can only assume that the reclusive Emily Dickinson saw a painting or drawing of these Canary Islands and was moved by the natural beauty and majesty of them as she writes in her signature fourteeners” (a line of iambic tetrameter followed by one of iambic trimeter). Her line "Purple of Ages--pause for you" certainly suggests that she was aware of Teneriffe's connection to the legend of Atlantis, a city of great majesty. Thus, the connotation of purple here is that of its regal quality, the color that kings wore, and the richness of the color as it is composed of blue and red, suggested in the lines that have "her Sapphire Regiment" of islands and the "Red Adieu" of the sunset over these islands. In accordance with the majestic sight of Teneriffe, purple offers a mystic quality and connects with an infinite consciousness that befits the contemplation of such natural magnificience displayed by Tenriffe.
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