As Imperceptibly as Grief

As Imperceptibly as Grief

By Emily Dickinson

As imperceptibly as Grief
The Summer lapsed away—
Too imperceptible at last
To seem like Perfidy—

A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun,
Or Nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon—

The Dusk drew earlier in—
The Morning foreign shone—
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
As Guest, that would be gone—

And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.

Summary of As Imperceptibly as Grief

  • Popularity of “As Imperceptibly as Grief”: Written by the reclusive American poet, Emily Dickinson, “As Imperceptibly as Grief” also appeared posthumously like several other poems though it was written long ago in 1865. The typical quality of spiritualism pervades almost all of her poems. This, too, is not different. In this poem, the poet presents the transitory nature of things as well as nature that does not stay for long and draws back as soon as the time comes. The poem has won popularity due to the universality of the theme of nature and the transformation it brings into the world.
  • “As Imperceptibly as Grief” As a Representative of Nature and Life: The poet has presented a speaker who states that the summer has lapsed away without showing much of its signs of withdrawal. This transitoriness of seasons is like perfidy as it does not announce its arrival or withdrawal. The speaker highlights this imperceptibility showing that quietness and twilight, too, move to the back with the dusk taking over and turning into morning, making every other time as if they are all guests. Presenting nature as a metaphor of a bird, the speaker states that it flies away into something beautiful without showing its wings.
  • Major Themes in “As Imperceptibly as Grief”: Transitoriness of things, nature, and time, and transformation of nature are major themes of the poem. The poet highlights this transitoriness, comparing grief with summer, quietness, twilight, and morning to highlight that even guests are transitory in a sense. When one season flies away into another, it looks beautiful, and this beauty lies at the heart of nature. This, also, is a time cycle that keeps changing with time. This transformation in time and nature makes things smooth, and working as grief comes imperceptibly and so do all these things. That is why human life goes on.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in As Imperceptibly as Grief

Emily Dickinson’s skill of using literary devices is matchless. She has shown its unique quality in this poem. Some of the major literary devices she uses are as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /a/ in “The Summer lapsed away” and the sound of /o/ in “The Morning foreign shone.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession, such as the sound of /d/ in “dusk drew.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /s/ in “The Summer lapsed away” and the sound of /t/ in “A Quietness distilled.”
  4. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Emily Dickinson uses imagery in this poem, such as “A Quietness distilled”, “The Dusk drew earlier in” and “The Morning foreign shone.”
  5. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. The poet used different metaphors grief, compared to summer or nature that has been isolated.
  6. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as twilight, dusk, morning, and grief to show the passing of nature and time.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in As Imperceptibly as Grief

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows very good use of formal and poetic diction.
  2. Irregular Rhyme Scheme: The poem is written in a quatrain, but there is no regular scheme which means that it shows the use of an irregular rhyme scheme.
  3. Quatrain: It is a stanza borrowed from Persian poetry having four verses, such as the first one or the second one.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem, with each comprising four verses.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a realistic and optimistic tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when talking about the coming of the good days.

And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.