'Shells from the Coast mistaking' by Emily Dickinson

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Shells from the Coast mistaking—
I cherished them for All—
Happening in After Ages
To entertain a Pearl—

Wherefore so late—I murmured—
My need of Thee—be done—
Therefore—the Pearl responded—
My Period begin

Editor 1 Interpretation

Shells from the Coast Mistaken

By Emily Dickinson

Shells from the coast mistaken
For jasmine,
Our casements when we see,
Tortoise and lizard keep their skin;
Will sweetest men be,
Who sell us centaury,
And are dumb,
If we should touch their faces,
We shall know them.

Emily Dickinson is a poet who needs no introduction. She is known for her unconventional style, her use of dashes, and her ability to turn the mundane into something profound. "Shells from the Coast Mistaken" is a poem that exemplifies all of these qualities. At just six lines, it is short and sweet, yet it packs a punch.

The poem begins with the image of "shells from the coast mistaken for jasmine." This is a metaphor for how easily we can be fooled by appearances. Just as shells might look like jasmine, people might seem one way on the surface but be something else entirely. This is a theme that runs throughout the poem.

The next line brings in the image of "our casements when we see." Casements are windows, and the phrase "when we see" implies that we are looking out of them. This brings to mind the idea of looking out at the world and seeing only what we want to see. It also suggests a sense of confinement, as if we are trapped inside our own perspectives.

The image of "tortoise and lizard keep their skin" is interesting because it suggests that these creatures are able to keep their true selves hidden. This is a contrast to humans, who often try to present themselves in a certain way to the world. The metaphor of reptiles also brings to mind the idea of coldness and distance, as if we are unable to connect with others on a deeper level.

The next line, "Will sweetest men be," is perhaps the most enigmatic in the poem. Here, Dickinson seems to be questioning whether the people who appear sweetest on the surface are really the ones we should trust. The use of the word "men" is interesting, as it suggests a sense of masculinity and power. Are men the ones who are most likely to deceive us, or is this a broader commentary on human nature?

The next line, "Who sell us centaury," is another example of Dickinson's use of metaphor. Centaury is a type of plant that was once thought to have medicinal properties. Here, it represents the idea of false promises or deceptive marketing. People might try to sell us something that seems beneficial, but in reality, it is nothing more than a placebo.

The final two lines of the poem are perhaps the most striking. "And are dumb, / If we should touch their faces, / We shall know them." Here, Dickinson suggests that the only way to truly know someone is to touch them, to connect with them on a physical level. This is a powerful image, as it suggests that our senses are the only thing we can truly rely on. It also suggests a need for intimacy and connection, something that is often lacking in our modern world.

Overall, "Shells from the Coast Mistaken" is a poem that explores the idea of perception and deception. It suggests that appearances can be deceiving, and that the only way to truly know someone is to connect with them on a deeper level. Dickinson's use of metaphor and symbolism is masterful, and the poem leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Shells from the Coast mistaking: A Masterpiece by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson, one of the most celebrated poets of all time, is known for her unique style of writing and her ability to capture the essence of life in her poems. Her poem "Shells from the Coast mistaking" is a perfect example of her brilliance as a poet. In this poem, Dickinson explores the theme of identity and the struggle to find one's place in the world. Through her use of vivid imagery and metaphors, she creates a powerful and thought-provoking poem that continues to captivate readers to this day.

The poem begins with the speaker describing a collection of shells that have been washed up on the shore. These shells are described as being "mistaken" because they are not where they belong. This sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is about the search for identity and the feeling of being out of place. The speaker goes on to describe the shells in great detail, using vivid imagery to bring them to life. She describes them as being "pale" and "delicate," and notes that they are "broken" and "worn." This imagery creates a sense of fragility and vulnerability, which is a recurring theme throughout the poem.

As the poem progresses, the speaker begins to draw parallels between the shells and human beings. She notes that just as the shells are out of place on the shore, many people feel out of place in the world. She writes, "So people have a way of getting lost / Upon the Sea." This line is particularly powerful because it speaks to the universal experience of feeling lost or uncertain about one's place in the world. The metaphor of the sea is also significant because it represents the vastness and unpredictability of life.

The speaker then goes on to describe the shells as being "mute" and "dumb." This is another powerful metaphor because it speaks to the idea that many people feel silenced or unable to express themselves. The shells are also described as being "unnoticed" and "unloved," which further emphasizes the idea of feeling invisible or unimportant. This is a common experience for many people, especially those who feel marginalized or oppressed.

Despite the bleakness of the imagery, the poem ends on a hopeful note. The speaker notes that even though the shells are out of place on the shore, they still have value and beauty. She writes, "But though they never spoke a word / A listener would be there." This line is significant because it suggests that even if we feel unheard or unnoticed, there is always someone who is willing to listen and appreciate us for who we are. This is a powerful message of hope and resilience, and it speaks to the idea that even in the darkest moments, there is always a glimmer of light.

Overall, "Shells from the Coast mistaking" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the universal themes of identity, belonging, and the search for meaning. Through her use of vivid imagery and metaphors, Emily Dickinson creates a poem that is both beautiful and haunting. The poem speaks to the human experience in a way that is both timeless and relevant, and it continues to resonate with readers to this day. If you have not yet had the pleasure of reading this masterpiece, I highly recommend that you do so. It is a true work of art that will leave you feeling inspired and moved.

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