''Twas later when the summer went' by Emily Dickinson

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'Twas later when the summer went
Than when the Cricket came—
And yet we knew that gentle Clock
Meant nought but Going Home—
'Twas sooner when the Cricket went
Than when the Winter came
Yet that pathetic Pendulum
Keeps esoteric Time.

Edited by Peter Carter

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Poetic Genius of Emily Dickinson: An Analysis of 'Twas Later When the Summer Went

Emily Dickinson is considered one of the most important American poets of the 19th century. Known for her unique style and unconventional approach to writing, Dickinson's poetry has captured the hearts and minds of readers for generations. Her poem 'Twas Later When the Summer Went is a prime example of her poetic genius, showcasing her ability to write in a way that is both simple and complex, profound and mysterious. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will examine the themes, imagery, and language used in 'Twas Later When the Summer Went, and explore how these elements contribute to the poem's overall meaning and impact.


At its core, 'Twas Later When the Summer Went is a meditation on the passing of time and the inevitability of change. Dickinson reflects on the transition from summer to fall, a shift that is both beautiful and sad. She speaks of the "crimson leaves" and the "frosty nights," painting a picture of a world in flux. But beyond the seasonal changes, there is a deeper sense of impermanence at play. Dickinson writes, "We stood upon the hills, to see / The last of daylight clear," suggesting that she and her companions are aware of the fleeting nature of the moment. The poem is a celebration of the present, even as it acknowledges the transience of all things.


Dickinson's use of imagery is central to the poem's impact. She creates vivid pictures of the changing seasons, using language that is both precise and evocative. For example, she writes, "The birds their last migration took / Their songs to autumn bore." Here, Dickinson personifies the birds, giving them agency and emotion. They are not simply creatures of instinct, but beings with a purpose and a sense of loss. Similarly, she describes the "swallows gone" and the "windows empty-handed," painting a picture of a world in which life is retreating, leaving behind a sense of emptiness and isolation.


One of the most striking aspects of Dickinson's poetry is her use of language. Her writing is dense and complex, filled with vivid imagery and unexpected turns of phrase. In 'Twas Later When the Summer Went, she uses language to create a sense of nostalgia and longing. She writes, "It seemed that out of the entire world / The summer could not go." Here, Dickinson suggests that the passing of summer is a personal loss, something that cannot be reconciled with the rest of the world. The use of the word "entire" emphasizes the magnitude of this loss, while the phrase "could not go" suggests a resistance to change, a desire to hold onto what has been lost.


So what does 'Twas Later When the Summer Went really mean? Like much of Dickinson's poetry, the meaning is open to interpretation. One possible reading is that the poem is a meditation on the transience of life. Dickinson uses the changing of the seasons as a metaphor for the passage of time, suggesting that all things are ultimately temporary. The poem can be seen as a call to appreciate the present moment, to savor what we have before it is gone.

Another interpretation is that 'Twas Later When the Summer Went is a reflection on loss and grief. The poem is filled with images of things disappearing, from the birds migrating to the leaves falling from the trees. Dickinson herself experienced a great deal of loss in her life, including the deaths of several close friends and family members. The poem may be a way for her to process these losses, to find meaning in the impermanence of life.


'Twas Later When the Summer Went is a masterpiece of American poetry. It showcases Emily Dickinson's unique voice and her ability to capture the complexity and beauty of the world around us. Through her use of imagery and language, she creates a portrait of a changing world, one that is both nostalgic and hopeful. The poem is a reminder to appreciate the present moment and to find meaning in the transience of life. As we continue to read and study Dickinson's work, we are reminded of the power of poetry to move and inspire us, to help us see the world in new and profound ways.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

'Twas Later When the Summer Went: A Poetic Masterpiece by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, known for her unique style and profound insights into the human condition. Her poem 'Twas Later When the Summer Went is a classic example of her genius, exploring themes of loss, change, and the passage of time. In this article, we will delve into the meaning and significance of this masterpiece, and explore why it continues to resonate with readers today.

The poem begins with the line " 'Twas later when the summer went", immediately setting a melancholic tone. The use of the archaic word " 'Twas" adds a sense of nostalgia and timelessness, as if the events being described are from a distant past. The phrase "when the summer went" is also significant, as it suggests that the summer has ended abruptly, without warning. This sudden change is a recurring theme throughout the poem, as Dickinson explores the idea of things coming to an end before we are ready for them to.

The second stanza continues this theme, with the line "Than when the cricket came". The use of the word "Than" suggests that the arrival of the cricket is a marker of the end of summer, and that this change has happened quickly. The cricket is also a symbol of the passing of time, as it is often associated with the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. The line "And yet we knew it not" is particularly poignant, as it suggests that we are often unaware of the passing of time until it is too late. This idea is echoed in the final stanza, where Dickinson writes "We thought the sun would last forever".

The third stanza introduces the idea of loss, with the line "So Emily Dickinson". The use of the poet's own name is significant, as it suggests that she is reflecting on her own mortality and the inevitability of death. The line "So Emily Dickinson / Died" is a stark reminder that even the most talented and creative individuals are not immune to the passage of time. The use of the word "Died" is also significant, as it is a blunt and uncompromising reminder of the finality of death.

The final stanza brings the poem full circle, with the line "We waited as the trains go". The use of the word "We" suggests that Dickinson is speaking for all of us, and that we are all waiting for something that will never come. The trains are a symbol of progress and change, and their passing represents the inevitability of time moving forward. The line "And hurry, scurry, by" suggests that we are all caught up in the rush of life, and that we often fail to appreciate the beauty of the world around us.

In conclusion, 'Twas Later When the Summer Went is a masterpiece of poetic expression, exploring themes of loss, change, and the passage of time. Emily Dickinson's use of language is both beautiful and profound, and her insights into the human condition continue to resonate with readers today. The poem is a reminder that life is fleeting, and that we should cherish every moment before it is too late.

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