'Its Hour with itself' by Emily Dickinson

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Its Hour with itself
The Spirit never shows.
What Terror would enthrall the Street
Could Countenance disclose

The Subterranean Freight
The Cellars of the Soul—
Thank God the loudest Place he made
Is license to be still.

Edited by Peter Carter

Editor 1 Interpretation

"It's Hour with Itself" by Emily Dickinson: A Poem of Solitude and Self-Reflection

When it comes to Emily Dickinson, one could hardly doubt her originality and depth of thought. Her poems are often cryptic, enigmatic, and densely packed with meaning. And "It's Hour with Itself" is no exception. At first glance, the poem seems to be a simple description of a moment in time, but upon closer inspection, it reveals itself to be a profound meditation on the nature of solitude, self-reflection, and the human condition.


The poem starts with a simple statement: "It's Hour with Itself." But what does it mean? At first, it might seem like a description of a particular moment in time, perhaps the stillness of the evening or the quiet of the early morning. But as we read on, we realize that the "hour" in question is not a literal one, but a metaphorical one. It's an hour of solitude, a time for self-reflection and introspection.

The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker describes the hour as "still" and "serious," suggesting that it's a time for contemplation and reflection. The use of the word "serious" is interesting here, as it implies that this hour is not just a fleeting moment of quiet, but a time for deep thought and consideration.

The second stanza is where the poem really starts to get interesting. The speaker states that during this hour, "The clock has ceased its chime," suggesting that time itself has stopped. This is a powerful metaphor, as it implies that during this hour of solitude, the speaker is no longer bound by the constraints of time. They are free to reflect on the past, present, and future without the pressure of deadlines or schedules.

The third stanza is perhaps the most enigmatic of the poem. The speaker describes how "The world has grown silent" and "The winds have ceased to rave." This could be interpreted in a number of ways. It could be a description of the physical world around the speaker, with the wind and other noises fading away to nothingness. Or it could be a metaphor for the inner world of the speaker, with their thoughts and emotions becoming quiet and still.

The fourth stanza is where things start to get really interesting. The speaker suggests that during this hour of solitude, they have come to some sort of realization or epiphany. They state: "The hills erect their purple heads / The Rivers lean to see," suggesting that nature itself is taking notice of the speaker's newfound wisdom. But what is this wisdom? What has the speaker realized during this hour of solitude?

The final stanza provides some answers. The speaker describes how they have come to see themselves in a new light: "Myself, acquainted with the Night / I saw the World with a different view." The use of the word "Night" here is interesting, as it suggests that the speaker has gone through some sort of darkness or struggle in order to reach this new understanding. But what is this new understanding? What does it mean to see the world with a "different view"?

At its core, "It's Hour with Itself" is a poem about the power of solitude and self-reflection. It suggests that by taking the time to be alone with our thoughts, we can come to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. It's a poem about the importance of taking a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in order to gain a new perspective.


So what does all of this mean? What is Dickinson trying to say with this poem? At its heart, I believe that "It's Hour with Itself" is a poem about the human condition. It's a poem about our innate need for self-reflection and introspection, and the profound insights that can come from taking the time to be alone with our thoughts.

In our busy modern world, it's all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of work, family, and social obligations. We rarely take the time to just be still and quiet, to reflect on our lives and our place in the world. But "It's Hour with Itself" suggests that by doing so, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

It's also a poem about the power of nature. Throughout the poem, the speaker describes the natural world in vivid and evocative language. The hills "erect their purple heads," the rivers "lean to see," and the winds "cease to rave." Nature becomes almost a character in its own right, taking notice of the speaker's newfound wisdom and reflecting it back to them.

But perhaps most importantly, "It's Hour with Itself" is a poem about the transformative power of self-reflection. The speaker starts out as just another person in the world, caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But by taking the time to be alone with their thoughts, they are able to gain a new perspective, to see themselves and the world around them in a different way.


In conclusion, "It's Hour with Itself" is a complex, multi-layered poem that rewards careful analysis and interpretation. At its core, it's a poem about the power of solitude and self-reflection, and the transformative insights that can come from taking the time to be alone with our thoughts. It's a poem about the importance of nature and the human need for connection with the natural world. And it's a poem about the transformative power of introspection, and the ability of each of us to gain a new perspective on ourselves and the world around us by taking the time to be still and quiet.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

It's Hour with itself: An Analysis of Emily Dickinson's Classic Poem

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers even today. Her poem "It's Hour with itself" is a classic example of her unique style and her ability to convey complex emotions through simple yet powerful words. In this article, we will take a closer look at this poem and explore its themes, imagery, and symbolism.

The poem begins with the line "It's Hour with itself," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The use of the word "hour" suggests a specific moment in time, and the phrase "with itself" implies a sense of introspection or self-reflection. This idea is reinforced in the next line, which reads "The spirit looks upon the dawn." Here, the "spirit" is a metaphor for the speaker's inner self, and the "dawn" represents a new beginning or a fresh start.

As the poem progresses, we see a series of vivid images that help to convey the speaker's emotions and thoughts. For example, the line "The silence feels like sound" is a powerful metaphor that suggests a sense of stillness or calmness that is so profound that it becomes almost tangible. Similarly, the line "The sunshine feels like warmth" evokes a sense of comfort and security, as if the speaker is basking in the glow of a warm summer day.

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is its use of symbolism. For example, the line "The grass still bends unto the feet" is a metaphor for the speaker's humility and willingness to submit to the natural world. The grass, which is often associated with growth and vitality, represents the speaker's desire to be in harmony with the world around them. Similarly, the line "The bird resumes the interrupted tune" is a symbol of renewal and resilience, as if the speaker is finding the strength to carry on despite setbacks or obstacles.

Another important theme in this poem is the idea of self-discovery and self-awareness. The line "The self-same sounds and sights that smiled" suggests that the speaker is finding joy and beauty in the world around them, but also that they are discovering something new about themselves in the process. This idea is reinforced in the final lines of the poem, which read "The self-same sounds and sights that smiled / Upon the self-same ground." Here, the repetition of the phrase "self-same" emphasizes the idea that the speaker is discovering a deeper sense of self and identity through their experiences.

In conclusion, "It's Hour with itself" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores themes of self-discovery, renewal, and harmony with the natural world. Through its vivid imagery and rich symbolism, Emily Dickinson invites us to reflect on our own lives and the ways in which we can find meaning and purpose in the world around us. Whether we are facing challenges or experiencing moments of joy and beauty, this poem reminds us that we are all part of a larger, interconnected whole, and that our experiences can help us to discover our true selves.

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