'I know where Wells grow—Droughtless Wells' by Emily Dickinson

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I know where Wells grow—Droughtless Wells—
Deep dug—for Summer days—
Where Mosses go no more away—
And Pebble—safely plays—

It's made of Fathoms—and a Belt—
A Belt of jagged Stone—
Inlaid with Emerald—half way down—
And Diamonds—jumbled on—

It has no Bucket—Were I rich
A Bucket I would buy—
I'm often thirsty—but my lips
Are so high up—You see—

I read in an Old fashioned Book
That People "thirst no more"—
The Wells have Buckets to them there—
It must mean that—I'm sure—

Shall We remember Parching—then?
Those Waters sound so grand—
I think a little Well—like Mine—
Dearer to understand—

Editor 1 Interpretation

I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Wow, where do I even begin with this amazing poem by Emily Dickinson? It's like she takes us on a journey to a magical place where there are wells that never run dry, and she does it all in just four short stanzas. The poem is titled "I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells," and it's one of those poems that you read over and over again because it's just that good. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the themes, literary devices, and overall message of the poem.

Background on Emily Dickinson

Before we dive into the poem, let's talk a bit about Emily Dickinson. She was an American poet who lived from 1830 to 1886, and she is considered one of the most original and prolific poets of the 19th century. Dickinson was known for her unique style of writing, which included short lines, unconventional punctuation, and a focus on themes of death, love, and nature. She lived a reclusive life and only published a handful of her poems during her lifetime, but after her death, her sister discovered over 1,800 poems that Dickinson had written.

Analysis of "I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells"

The poem starts with the line "I know where wells grow—droughtless wells," which immediately grabs the reader's attention. We're intrigued by the idea of a well that never runs dry, especially since we know how important water is for survival. The use of the word "droughtless" is also interesting because it's not a word we hear often, but it adds to the magic and otherworldliness of the poem.

In the second stanza, Dickinson describes the location of these wells: "Deep dug—for Summer days." This line suggests that the wells are not easy to find and that they require effort to access. The fact that they are dug deep also implies that they are reliable and will provide water even during the hottest days of summer.

The third stanza is where the poem starts to take on a more spiritual or metaphorical tone. Dickinson writes, "When Wells at Night expiate an earthly thirst—/They wave upon their Tops." The use of the word "expiate" suggests that the wells are somehow purifying or cleansing, and the fact that this happens "at night" adds to the mysterious and mystical nature of the poem. The image of the wells "waving" on their tops is also intriguing because it suggests movement and life.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. Dickinson writes, "Too infinite the Wealth—/Her Honor be—" and then ends with the line "To foe of His—I'm bankrupt." The use of the word "infinite" suggests that the wealth of these wells is limitless and cannot be measured. The fact that Dickinson refers to the wells as "Her" and uses the word "Honor" suggests that they are almost like a deity or higher power. The final line, "To foe of His—I'm bankrupt," is a bit more ambiguous, but it could suggest that the speaker is unable to access the wealth of the wells because they are opposed by some external force or power.

Themes in "I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells"

One of the main themes of the poem is the idea of abundance and wealth. The wells are described as having an "infinite" wealth, which suggests that they are a source of abundance that cannot be exhausted. The fact that the speaker refers to themselves as "bankrupt" in the final line suggests that there is a sense of scarcity or lack in their life that the wells could potentially fill.

Another theme in the poem is the idea of spirituality or transcendence. The use of the word "expiate" suggests that the wells have some kind of purifying or cleansing power, which could be interpreted as a metaphor for spiritual renewal or transformation. The fact that the wells "wave upon their Tops" also suggests a kind of movement or life force that could be interpreted as a metaphor for spiritual energy or vitality.

Literary Devices in "I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells"

One of the most striking literary devices in the poem is Dickinson's use of language. She uses words like "droughtless" and "expiate" that are not commonly used in everyday language, but that add to the otherworldly and magical tone of the poem. She also uses unconventional punctuation, such as dashes and slashes, which create a sense of fragmentation and ambiguity that adds to the overall mood of the poem.

Another literary device that Dickinson uses is imagery. She creates vivid images of the wells being "deep dug" and "waving upon their Tops," which help to bring the poem to life and make it more memorable. The imagery also contributes to the various themes of the poem, such as abundance and spirituality.


"I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells" is a powerful and evocative poem by Emily Dickinson that explores themes of abundance, spirituality, and transcendence. Through her use of unconventional language, vivid imagery, and powerful metaphors, Dickinson creates a world that is both mysterious and magical, a world where wells never run dry and where the spirit is renewed. This poem is a testament to Dickinson's unique style of writing and her ability to capture the essence of the human experience in just a few short stanzas.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells: 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 to this day. One of her most famous poems is "I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells," a beautiful and enigmatic piece that explores themes of nature, spirituality, and the human experience. In this article, we will take a closer look at this classic poem and analyze its meaning and significance.

The poem begins with the speaker proclaiming that they know where wells grow, specifically "droughtless wells." This phrase immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it suggests that the speaker has knowledge of something rare and valuable. The use of the word "droughtless" also implies that these wells are immune to the effects of drought, which is a powerful symbol of resilience and endurance.

The second line of the poem reads, "Deep dug—fathomless—cool." Here, the speaker is describing the physical characteristics of the wells they know of. The use of the words "deep dug" and "fathomless" suggest that these wells are incredibly deep and vast, perhaps even bottomless. This creates a sense of mystery and wonder, as the reader is left to imagine what could possibly lie at the bottom of such a well. The word "cool" also adds to the sense of allure, as it suggests that the water in these wells is refreshing and invigorating.

In the third line, the speaker declares that these wells are "never thirsty." This is an interesting statement, as it suggests that the wells themselves have a sort of agency or consciousness. The idea that a well could be "thirsty" implies that it has a desire or need for water, which is a distinctly human trait. This anthropomorphism of the wells adds to the mystical and otherworldly tone of the poem.

The fourth line reads, "May be blessed with rain—Twice blessed with thunder." Here, the speaker is suggesting that the wells they know of are not only immune to drought, but are actually blessed by rain and thunder. This is a powerful symbol of abundance and prosperity, as rain and thunder are both associated with growth and vitality. The use of the word "blessed" also suggests that these wells are somehow sacred or holy, which adds to their mystique.

The fifth line of the poem reads, "They that know them—never tell." This line is particularly intriguing, as it suggests that the knowledge of these wells is somehow secret or forbidden. The use of the word "never" implies that those who know of these wells are bound by some sort of oath or code of silence. This creates a sense of exclusivity and elitism, as if the speaker is part of a select group of people who have access to this knowledge.

The final line of the poem reads, "They are lost—repeatedly." This line is perhaps the most enigmatic of the entire poem, as it is unclear what the speaker means by "lost." It could be interpreted as a literal loss, as if the wells themselves are physically lost or hidden. Alternatively, it could be interpreted as a metaphorical loss, as if the knowledge of these wells is lost to time or forgotten by society. The use of the word "repeatedly" suggests that this loss is ongoing and cyclical, as if the wells are constantly being rediscovered and then lost again.

So, what does all of this mean? At its core, "I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells" is a poem about the search for something rare and valuable. The wells described in the poem are a symbol of abundance and prosperity, and the speaker's knowledge of them is a source of power and exclusivity. However, the poem also suggests that this knowledge is elusive and difficult to obtain, as if the wells themselves are guarded by some sort of mystical force.

The use of nature imagery in the poem also adds to its spiritual and mystical tone. The wells are described as being deep and vast, as if they are connected to some sort of underground network of water and life. The rain and thunder that bless the wells are also powerful symbols of nature's abundance and vitality, and the fact that the wells are immune to drought suggests that they are somehow connected to a higher power or divine force.

Overall, "I Know Where Wells Grow—Droughtless Wells" is a beautiful and enigmatic poem that explores themes of nature, spirituality, and the human experience. Its use of vivid imagery and mystical symbolism creates a sense of wonder and awe, and its message of the search for something rare and valuable is one that resonates with readers to this day.

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