'These—saw Visions' by Emily Dickinson

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These—saw Visions—
Latch them softly—
These—held Dimples—
Smooth them slow—
This—addressed departing accents—
Quick—Sweet Mouth—to miss thee so—

This—We stroked—
Unnumbered Satin—
These—we held among our own—
Fingers of the Slim Aurora—
Not so arrogant—this Noon—

These—adjust—that ran to meet us—
Pearl—for Stocking—Pearl for Shoe—
Paradise—the only Palace
Fit for Her reception—now—

Editor 1 Interpretation

These—saw Visions by Emily Dickinson: A Literary Criticism

Oh, Emily Dickinson, the queen of poetic ambiguity and mysticism! She never ceases to amaze me with her cryptic verses that seem to conceal more than they reveal. One of her most enigmatic poems is These—saw Visions, which is a prime example of her fascination with the spiritual realm and the afterlife. In this literary criticism, I will attempt to unravel the meaning and significance of this poem, and explore its themes, imagery, language, and structure.

The Poem

First, let's read the poem itself:

These—saw Visions—
Latch them softly—
These—heard Night's footfa'—
Hold them gentle—

At first glance, this poem seems short and simple, almost like a nursery rhyme. However, it is precisely its brevity and simplicity that make it so intriguing. What are these "visions" and "night's footfa'" that the speaker refers to? Who are the "these" who saw and heard them? And why should we "latch them softly" and "hold them gentle"? These are the questions that Emily Dickinson poses, but does not answer directly. Instead, she leaves us to decipher the poem's meaning through its language and imagery.


One of the most prominent themes in These—saw Visions is the idea of revelation and vision. The poem suggests that there are certain experiences that are beyond the ordinary perception of the senses, and that require a gentle and respectful approach. The visions and sounds that the "these" have witnessed are not to be taken lightly, but rather cherished and protected. This theme is closely related to Dickinson's overall interest in spirituality and the afterlife, and her belief in the existence of a higher realm of existence.

Another theme that can be inferred from the poem is the ephemeral nature of these experiences. The visions and sounds are fleeting and elusive, and require a delicate touch to be preserved. This theme is also evident in Dickinson's other works, where she frequently explores the theme of transience and the impermanence of life.

Imagery and Language

Dickinson's use of imagery and language in These—saw Visions is what makes the poem so captivating. The word "visions" evokes a sense of otherworldliness and transcendence, while "night's footfa'" suggests a mysterious and eerie atmosphere. The choice of soft and gentle verbs such as "latch" and "hold" creates a delicate and tender tone, as if the speaker is handling something fragile and precious. The repetition of the word "these" also adds to the poem's enigmatic quality, as it is unclear who or what the speaker is referring to.

Furthermore, the use of dashes in the poem is a hallmark of Dickinson's style, and serves to create pauses and breaks in the text. These dashes can be seen as a visual representation of the delicate handling that the speaker is advocating for. By breaking up the text, Dickinson is also forcing the reader to pause and reflect on each line, and to consider the possible meanings and implications.


The structure of These—saw Visions is strikingly simple, yet effective. The poem consists of four short lines, each containing two words that are separated by a dash. There is no regular rhyme scheme or meter, which gives the poem a free-flowing and spontaneous feel. However, the lack of structure also contributes to the poem's ambiguity and leaves the reader with many unanswered questions.


So, what can we make of These—saw Visions? What is Dickinson trying to convey through this enigmatic poem? One possible interpretation is that the "these" who saw visions and heard night's footfa' are the speakers themselves, or perhaps a group of individuals who have experienced something profound and spiritual. The visions and sounds that they witnessed were so fleeting and delicate that they must be handled with care and reverence, lest they disappear completely.

Another interpretation is that the poem is a commentary on the nature of perception and reality. Dickinson may be suggesting that there are certain experiences that are beyond the scope of our ordinary senses, and that require a different kind of perception. The "visions" and "night's footfa'" may represent a kind of spiritual or mystical awakening, in which the veil between the physical and spiritual realms is lifted. This interpretation is consistent with Dickinson's overall interest in spirituality and her belief in the existence of an afterlife.


In conclusion, These—saw Visions is a poem that challenges our understanding of reality and perception. Its cryptic language and imagery create a sense of mystery and intrigue, and leave the reader with many unanswered questions. However, it is precisely this ambiguity and mysticism that make the poem so compelling and fascinating. Dickinson's use of language, imagery, and structure work together to create a delicate and tender tone, and to convey the fragility and transience of the visions and sounds that the "these" have experienced. Ultimately, the poem is a testament to Dickinson's unique poetic vision and her enduring legacy as one of America's greatest poets.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

These—saw Visions: An Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s Classic Poem

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets in American literature. Her works are known for their unique style, unconventional punctuation, and profound themes. One of her most famous poems, These—saw Visions, is a masterpiece that explores the nature of perception, reality, and the human experience. In this article, we will provide a detailed analysis and explanation of this classic poem.

The poem begins with the line, “These—saw Visions—Latch them—” which immediately captures the reader’s attention. The use of the dash in place of a comma or period is a signature style of Dickinson’s poetry. It creates a sense of pause and emphasizes the importance of each word. The word “These” refers to the visions that the speaker has seen, and the word “Latch” suggests that the speaker wants to hold onto these visions, to keep them close.

The next line, “Bind them tight—” reinforces this idea of holding onto the visions. The word “Bind” suggests a sense of urgency, as if the speaker fears that the visions may slip away. The word “tight” emphasizes the need for security and stability. The speaker wants to ensure that these visions are not lost or forgotten.

The third line, “—Tell them they are Thine,” introduces a new element to the poem. The speaker is addressing someone, telling them to claim ownership of these visions. The word “Thine” suggests that the visions belong to this person, that they have a personal connection to them. This line also raises the question of who this person is. Is it a lover, a friend, or a higher power?

The fourth line, “Identity justifies itself,” is a powerful statement that speaks to the nature of identity and self-discovery. The word “Identity” suggests a sense of self-awareness, of knowing who you are. The phrase “justifies itself” suggests that this self-awareness is enough, that it doesn’t need to be validated by anyone else. This line also raises the question of whether the visions that the speaker has seen have contributed to their sense of identity.

The fifth line, “We journeyed from ourselves,” is a profound statement that speaks to the human experience. The word “journeyed” suggests a sense of movement, of going from one place to another. The phrase “from ourselves” suggests that this journey is an internal one, that we are constantly searching for something within ourselves. This line also raises the question of whether the visions that the speaker has seen have led them on this journey of self-discovery.

The final line, “And each other—” is a beautiful conclusion to the poem. The word “each other” suggests a sense of connection, of community. It suggests that we are not alone on this journey of self-discovery, that we have others to share it with. This line also raises the question of whether the visions that the speaker has seen have led them to connect with others in a deeper way.

Overall, These—saw Visions is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the nature of perception, reality, and the human experience. It raises important questions about identity, self-discovery, and the connections we make with others. Dickinson’s use of unconventional punctuation and her unique style make this poem a masterpiece of American literature.

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