'Today or this noon' by Emily Dickinson

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Today or this noon
She dwelt so close
I almost touched her—
Tonight she lies
Past neighborhood
And bough and steeple,
Now past surmise.

Edited by Peter Carter

Editor 1 Interpretation

Today or this noon by Emily Dickinson: A Masterpiece of Subtle Emotion and Imagery

Emily Dickinson is one of America's greatest poets. Her unique style and stunning imagery have captivated readers for generations. "Today or this noon" is just one of her many poems that showcase her talent. In this poem, Dickinson explores themes of time, nature, and the human condition in a way that is both subtle and powerful.

Structure and Form

The poem is written in Dickinson's trademark style of short, concise lines and irregular meter. The poem consists of three stanzas, each with three lines. The first and third lines of each stanza have a consistent syllable count of six, while the second line has a syllable count of seven. The rhyme scheme of the poem is irregular, with occasional slant rhymes and internal rhymes.

Imagery and Symbolism

The imagery in "Today or this noon" is stunning. Dickinson uses nature and the passing of time to convey the poem's message. The first stanza describes the sun setting over the hills, and the second stanza describes a bird flying overhead. The final stanza describes the moon rising and the stars coming out.

These images are not just descriptions of the natural world; they are also symbolic. The setting sun represents the end of a day or the end of life. The bird flying overhead represents freedom and escape. The moon and stars represent the night, which can be both beautiful and terrifying.

Tone and Mood

The tone of "Today or this noon" is melancholy and reflective. Dickinson is contemplating the passage of time and the fleeting nature of life. The poem is filled with a sense of longing and sadness. However, there is also a sense of acceptance and resignation in the poem. Dickinson seems to be acknowledging the inevitability of death and the impermanence of all things.

The mood of the poem is somber and contemplative. The imagery and tone combine to create a sense of introspection and reflection. The poem is not depressing, but it is not uplifting either. Rather, it is a meditation on the nature of existence and the beauty of the natural world.

Themes and Interpretation

"Today or this noon" explores a number of themes that are central to Dickinson's poetry. The poem touches on the passage of time, the beauty of nature, and the inevitability of death.

One interpretation of the poem is that it is about the cycle of life and death. The sun sets, the bird flies away, and the moon rises, symbolizing the passage of time and the inevitability of change. The poem seems to be saying that everything must come to an end, and that we should appreciate the beauty of life while we can.

Another interpretation is that the poem is about the human condition. Dickinson is contemplating the fleeting nature of life and the limited time we have to experience the world. The bird flying overhead could represent our desire for freedom and escape, while the moon and stars represent the unknown and the mysteries of life.


"Today or this noon" is a stunning poem that showcases Dickinson's talent for subtle emotion and imagery. The poem is filled with symbolism and invites multiple interpretations. Whether you see it as a meditation on the cycle of life and death or a contemplation of the human condition, the poem is a masterpiece of American literature that continues to captivate readers today.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Today or this noon by Emily Dickinson is a classic poem that has been analyzed and interpreted by scholars and poetry enthusiasts for decades. The poem is a short but powerful piece that captures the essence of life and the fleeting nature of time. In this analysis, we will delve into the meaning behind the poem and explore the various literary devices used by Dickinson to convey her message.

The poem begins with the line "Today or this noon," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The use of the word "today" suggests a sense of urgency and immediacy, while "this noon" implies a specific moment in time. This opening line is also significant because it establishes the theme of time, which is a recurring motif throughout the poem.

The second line of the poem reads, "Sultry the air is, and silent the stones." Here, Dickinson uses personification to give life to the inanimate objects around her. The air is described as "sultry," which creates a sense of discomfort and unease. The stones are "silent," which suggests a stillness and quietness that is almost eerie. This line sets the scene for the rest of the poem and creates a vivid image in the reader's mind.

The third line of the poem reads, "Laid are the crops yet the sunflowers are wild." This line is significant because it juxtaposes the orderliness of the crops with the wildness of the sunflowers. The use of the word "laid" suggests a sense of finality and completion, while the word "wild" implies a lack of control or restraint. This contrast between order and chaos is a recurring theme in Dickinson's poetry and is particularly relevant in this poem.

The fourth line of the poem reads, "And now I'm as happy as a thing that's born." This line is significant because it introduces the speaker's emotional state. The use of the simile "as happy as a thing that's born" suggests a sense of newness and freshness, which is in contrast to the stillness and finality of the previous line. This line also implies a sense of rebirth or renewal, which is a common theme in Dickinson's poetry.

The fifth line of the poem reads, "I hear, and my soul is startled with sound." Here, Dickinson uses alliteration to create a sense of rhythm and musicality. The repetition of the "s" sound in "soul" and "startled" creates a sense of movement and energy. This line also suggests a sense of surprise or shock, which is in contrast to the speaker's previous sense of happiness.

The sixth and final line of the poem reads, "The weight of the grasses, my body is found." This line is significant because it brings the poem full circle. The use of the word "weight" suggests a sense of heaviness or burden, which is in contrast to the speaker's previous sense of happiness. This line also implies a sense of grounding or connection to the earth, which is a recurring theme in Dickinson's poetry.

Overall, Today or this noon is a powerful poem that captures the essence of life and the fleeting nature of time. Through the use of vivid imagery, personification, and literary devices such as alliteration and simile, Dickinson conveys a sense of urgency and immediacy that is both haunting and beautiful. The poem is a testament to Dickinson's skill as a poet and her ability to capture the complexities of the human experience in just a few short lines.

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