'These are the Signs to Nature's Inns—' by Emily Dickinson

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The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth—

The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity.

Edited by Peter Carter

Editor 1 Interpretation


Have you ever found yourself mesmerized by the beauty of nature? Have you ever felt a strong connection with the environment around you? If you have, then you will be able to relate to Emily Dickinson's poem "These are the Signs to Nature's Inns." This classic piece of literature is a profound reflection on the beauty of nature and the way it affects us on a deeper level.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, symbols, and literary devices used by Dickinson to convey her message. We will also examine the historical context of the poem and how it relates to the poet's life. So, are you ready to delve into the world of Emily Dickinson's poetry? Let's get started!

Historical Context

Emily Dickinson is known for her poetry that explored themes of death, nature, and spirituality. She lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, during the mid-19th century, a time when the United States was undergoing significant social and cultural changes. The country was going through a period of rapid industrialization, which had a significant impact on the environment. As a result, many people began to appreciate the beauty of nature and its importance in their lives.

Dickinson was also influenced by the Transcendentalist movement, which emphasized the importance of nature, individualism, and intuition. This movement was popular among writers and intellectuals of the time, and it greatly influenced Dickinson's poetry.

Poem Analysis


One of the main themes of the poem is the beauty of nature and its ability to provide solace and comfort to the human soul. Dickinson describes nature as a place where we can find refuge from the chaos and noise of the world. She uses the metaphor of nature's inns to convey this idea, suggesting that nature is a place where we can rest and rejuvenate.

Another theme of the poem is the idea of journey and exploration. Dickinson suggests that nature is a place where we can go to explore the world around us and discover new things. She uses the image of the "signs" to convey this idea, suggesting that nature has many secrets waiting to be discovered.


Dickinson uses several symbols to convey her ideas in the poem. One of the most prominent symbols is the "inn." The inn represents a place of rest and comfort, where travelers can find shelter and solace. Dickinson uses this symbol to suggest that nature is a place where we can go to find peace and comfort.

Another symbol used in the poem is the "signs." The signs represent the various markers and indicators that can be found in nature. Dickinson suggests that these signs can guide us on our journey of exploration and discovery, leading us to new and exciting places.

Literary Devices

Dickinson uses several literary devices to convey her ideas in the poem. One of the most prominent devices is imagery. Dickinson uses vivid and descriptive images to bring the natural world to life, making it seem almost tangible. For example, she describes the "night-blooming cereus" and the "humming-bird's nest" in detail, bringing these images to life in the reader's mind.

Another literary device used in the poem is repetition. Dickinson repeats the phrase "these are the signs" several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the importance of the signs in guiding us on our journey. This repetition also creates a sense of rhythm and musicality in the poem, making it more engaging and memorable.


The poem is structured in four stanzas, each consisting of two rhyming lines. This simple and straightforward structure gives the poem a sense of clarity and simplicity, emphasizing the importance of nature's message. The use of rhyming also creates a sense of musicality and rhythm in the poem, making it more memorable and engaging.


Emily Dickinson's "These are the Signs to Nature's Inns" is a beautiful and profound reflection on the beauty of nature and its importance in our lives. Through her use of vivid imagery, symbolism, and literary devices, Dickinson conveys the idea that nature is a place of solace and comfort, where we can go to find peace and rejuvenation. The poem also suggests that nature is a place of exploration and discovery, where we can find new and exciting things.

Overall, "These are the Signs to Nature's Inns" is a beautiful and timeless piece of literature that continues to inspire and move readers today. So, the next time you find yourself in nature, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and listen to its message. Who knows what secrets you might discover?

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

These are the Signs to Nature's Inns: A Poem by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers to this day. One of her most famous poems is "These are the Signs to Nature's Inns," a beautiful and evocative piece that speaks to the beauty and wonder of the natural world. In this article, we will take a closer look at this classic poem and explore its themes, imagery, and meaning.

The poem begins with the line "These are the signs to Nature's Inns," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. Dickinson is inviting us to take a journey into the natural world, to explore its wonders and mysteries. The use of the word "Inns" is particularly interesting, as it suggests that nature is a place of rest and refuge, a place where we can find solace and peace.

The next few lines of the poem describe the various signs that point the way to these "Inns." Dickinson writes of "A Robin - an' a Wren," two birds that are commonly associated with spring and the renewal of life. The robin is known for its bright red breast and cheerful song, while the wren is a tiny bird with a powerful voice. Together, they represent the joy and vitality of the natural world, and their presence is a sure sign that we are on the right path.

The poem goes on to describe other signs, such as "A Bee - a Butterfly," which are also associated with the beauty and abundance of nature. Bees are known for their hard work and their role in pollinating plants, while butterflies are symbols of transformation and metamorphosis. These signs remind us that nature is not just a static backdrop to our lives, but a dynamic and ever-changing force that is constantly renewing itself.

As the poem continues, Dickinson describes other signs that point the way to Nature's Inns, such as "A Breeze - a noiseless noise," and "A Nature - like a Masque." These lines are more abstract and open to interpretation, but they suggest that nature is not just a physical place, but a state of mind. The breeze and the noiseless noise are both subtle and ephemeral, reminding us that the beauty of nature is often fleeting and hard to grasp. The reference to a masque, or a theatrical performance, suggests that nature is a kind of performance art, a spectacle that is meant to be enjoyed and appreciated.

The final lines of the poem bring everything together, as Dickinson writes:

"The Hillsides - score the Day's decline - Sparrows - chirp - sunset - tune - The Bobolinks - record the Sign - And Nature - picks - upon the Tune -"

These lines are particularly beautiful, as they describe the way that nature responds to the passing of time. The hillsides score the day's decline, marking the passage of time with their changing colors and shadows. The sparrows chirp a sunset tune, celebrating the end of the day and the coming of night. The bobolinks, a type of bird known for their beautiful songs, record the sign, capturing the beauty of the moment in their music. And nature herself picks upon the tune, responding to the beauty of the world around her with her own creative force.

So what does all of this mean? At its core, "These are the Signs to Nature's Inns" is a celebration of the natural world and all its wonders. Dickinson invites us to take a journey into this world, to explore its beauty and mystery, and to find solace and peace in its embrace. The signs she describes are not just physical markers, but symbols of the vitality and abundance of nature, reminding us that we are part of a larger, more complex world than we often realize.

In conclusion, "These are the Signs to Nature's Inns" is a beautiful and evocative poem that speaks to the power and wonder of the natural world. Through its vivid imagery and lyrical language, Emily Dickinson invites us to explore this world and to find joy and solace in its embrace. Whether we are listening to the chirping of sparrows or watching the sunset over the hillsides, we are reminded that nature is a place of rest and refuge, a place where we can find peace and renewal.

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