'Twice had Summer her fair Verdure' by Emily Dickinson

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Twice had Summer her fair Verdure
Proffered to the Plain-
Twice a Winter's silver Fracture
On the Rivers been-Two full Autumns for the Squirrel
Bounteous prepared-
Nature, Had'st thou not a Berry
For thy wandering Bird?

Editor 1 Interpretation

Twice had Summer her fair Verdure: A Deep Dive into Emily Dickinson's Classic Poem

When it comes to American poetry, few names are as revered as Emily Dickinson. Her unique style, marked by unusual punctuation and syntax, has captivated readers for over a century. And one of her most beloved poems is "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure."

At first glance, this poem may seem simple - just a description of the changing seasons. But like much of Dickinson's work, there is much more going on beneath the surface. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes and symbolism present in "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure," and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the poem.

A Brief Overview

Before we dive into the analysis, let's start with a brief overview of the poem. Here is the full text:

Twice had Summer her fair Verdure Proffered to the Plain - Twice a Winter's silver Fracture On the Rivers been - Two full Autumns for the Squirrel Bounteous prepared his store - Twice a Summer Swelling gathers Twice is kindled a Fire [sic] in the floor -

The poem is structured in quatrains, with each stanza containing four lines. The first two stanzas describe the changing seasons, with summer and winter each coming twice. The third stanza focuses on the autumn, and how it prepares the squirrel for winter. The final stanza introduces a new image - a "Summer Swelling" that kindles a fire on the floor.

Now, let's unpack these images and metaphors to see what they represent on a deeper level.

The Seasons

The most obvious theme in "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure" is the changing of the seasons. But Dickinson doesn't just describe the seasons in a straightforward way - she imbues them with deeper meaning.

First, let's look at the repetition of "twice." The fact that both summer and winter come twice suggests a cyclical nature to time. It also implies that each season has a distinct character, but ultimately they repeat in a pattern.

The phrase "fair Verdure" is also significant. Verdure refers to lush green vegetation, and Dickinson's choice of the word "fair" suggests a beauty and purity to summer. However, the fact that this beauty is "proffered to the Plain" implies that it is not permanent - it is offered up, but will inevitably fade away.

Winter, on the other hand, is described as a "silver Fracture" on the rivers. This imagery suggests both the coldness of winter and the way it breaks apart the landscape. The fact that it is described as "silver" also implies a certain beauty to winter, but one that is colder and more brittle than the warmth of summer.

When we look at these two stanzas together, we see a contrast between the vibrancy of summer and the barrenness of winter. But both are necessary parts of the cycle of life - just as the seasons repeat, so too do the cycles of growth and decay.

The Squirrel

The third stanza of "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure" shifts focus to the animal world. The squirrel is "Bounteous prepared his store" during two full autumns. This image suggests a kind of industriousness and foresight on the part of the squirrel - it is preparing for the winter that it knows is coming.

But the squirrel is not just a symbol of preparedness. It also represents a connection to the natural world. Unlike humans, who often try to dominate and control nature, the squirrel is working with the cycles of the seasons. It is a reminder that we are not separate from nature, but rather a part of it.

The Fire

The final stanza of "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure" introduces a new image - a "Summer Swelling" that kindles a fire on the floor. This image is less straightforward than the earlier stanzas, and there are several ways to interpret it.

First, the fact that it is a "Summer" swelling suggests that it is a result of the natural cycles described earlier in the poem. It is not something created by humans, but rather a natural occurrence.

The fire itself could symbolize a variety of things. It could represent destruction and renewal - after all, fire is often necessary for new growth to occur. It could also represent passion or desire, especially given the use of the word "kindled."

Finally, the fact that the fire is "in the floor" suggests a grounding or foundation. It is not an ephemeral or fleeting image, but something deeply rooted in the earth.


"Twice had Summer her fair Verdure" may seem like a simple poem at first glance, but as we have seen, there is much more going on beneath the surface. Dickinson uses images of the changing seasons, the industrious squirrel, and a mysterious fire to explore themes of cyclical time, the interconnectedness of humans and nature, and the potential for destruction and renewal.

As with much of Dickinson's work, "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure" leaves plenty of room for interpretation. But one thing is clear - this poem is a testament to the power of nature and the cycles of life. And that message is just as relevant today as it was when Dickinson wrote it over a century ago.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Twice had Summer her fair Verdure: An Analysis of Emily Dickinson's Classic Poem

Emily Dickinson is one of the most renowned poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers to this day. One of her most famous poems is "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure," a beautiful and evocative piece that explores the fleeting nature of life and the beauty of the natural world. In this analysis, we will delve into the themes, imagery, and language of this classic poem, and explore what makes it such a timeless and powerful work of art.

The poem begins with the line "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure," immediately setting the scene and establishing the central theme of the poem: the passing of time. The use of the word "twice" suggests that the speaker has witnessed the changing of the seasons more than once, and is therefore aware of the cyclical nature of life. The word "fair" is also significant, as it suggests that the speaker sees beauty in the world around them, even as it changes and fades.

The next line, "Her Warmths as soon / Were chilled," continues this theme of impermanence and change. The use of the word "Warmths" suggests the heat and energy of summer, while the word "chilled" evokes a sense of coldness and decay. This contrast between warmth and chill creates a sense of tension and unease, as the speaker is forced to confront the fact that all things must eventually come to an end.

The third line, "And now, her Place / Knows Her no more," is perhaps the most poignant in the entire poem. Here, the speaker acknowledges that the world has moved on without Summer, and that her presence is no longer felt. This line is particularly powerful because it suggests that even the most beautiful and vibrant things in life are ultimately fleeting, and that we must learn to appreciate them while we can.

The fourth line, "In vain / Her Tears fall down," is a bit more ambiguous, but it can be interpreted as a reference to the rain that often comes with the changing of the seasons. The use of the word "vain" suggests that even the tears of Summer cannot bring her back, and that the world must continue on without her.

The final two lines of the poem, "So round her Cell / No Mourner treads," bring the poem to a close with a sense of finality and closure. The use of the word "Cell" suggests a tomb or a grave, and the fact that no mourner treads there suggests that Summer's passing has been accepted and mourned, but ultimately forgotten. This final image is a powerful reminder of the transience of life, and the importance of cherishing the moments we have while we have them.

One of the most striking things about this poem is its use of imagery. Dickinson was known for her vivid and evocative descriptions of the natural world, and "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure" is no exception. The use of words like "Warmths," "chilled," and "Tears" creates a sense of sensory experience, as if the reader can feel the changing of the seasons and the passing of time. The image of Summer's tears falling down is particularly poignant, as it suggests a sense of sadness and loss that is universal and timeless.

Another important aspect of this poem is its use of language. Dickinson was known for her unconventional use of grammar and punctuation, and "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure" is no exception. The lack of punctuation in the first line creates a sense of fluidity and movement, as if the changing of the seasons is an unstoppable force. The use of capitalization for words like "Warmths" and "Tears" also creates a sense of importance and significance, as if these natural phenomena are imbued with a deeper meaning.

In conclusion, "Twice had Summer her fair Verdure" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the themes of impermanence, beauty, and the natural world. Through its use of vivid imagery and unconventional language, it creates a sense of sensory experience that is both timeless and universal. This poem is a testament to Emily Dickinson's skill as a poet, and a reminder of the power of language to capture the fleeting moments of life.

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