Poetry Sunday: A Light exists in Spring by Emily Dickinson

"The Belle of Amherst" she has been called. Though she was not well known during her lifetime, in death Emily Dickinson has emerged as one of the most important poets that this country has produced. One of the memorable things about her poems is the eccentric capitalization of random words. Why did she do it? Who knows? She marched to a drummer no one else could hear.

In 1890, Dickinson published this poem about the unique light that occurs in spring. It is a passing thing as are most things in life and it must be experienced in the moment. It is a mystical light that "almost speaks" in a language known only to the soul.  

A Light exists in Spring

by Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.


  1. Spring does have a special light, and a special odour too. Everything about spring excites the senses.

  2. I love her work. I think it's tragic she never got to see any real success while she was alive.

    1. That seems to be the fate of so many artists - never appreciated until after they are dead.

  3. Love. I've seen two productions of The Belle of Amherst--such a wonderful one-woman play. An absolute joy!

  4. Spring and fall both (to me) have special lights but they are not the same light. Here, starting sometime in February you see the glow in upper tree branches, too, as sap starts to flow. Now, buds are swelling. Oh, that feeling of coming alive. Emily Dickinson felt it, and she expressed it so well.

    1. Each season seems to have its own distinctive light. You describe the light of spring very well.

  5. I wonder how hard she needed to work to write a poem like this, or if the words just came to her and she just scribbled them down.

    1. I don't know the answer to that but I suspect that, even though inspiration plays its role, the poet still has to work to hone the words.

  6. The random capitalization has a lovely effect on the feeling of the poem.

    1. As I said, she did march - and write - to the beat of a drum only she could hear. That's what made her unique and memorable.


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