'My first well Day-since many ill' by Emily Dickinson

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My first well Day-since many ill-
I asked to go abroad,
And take the Sunshine in my hands,
And see the things in Pod-A 'blossom just when I went in
To take my Chance with pain-
Uncertain if myself, or He,
Should prove the strongest One.The Summer deepened, while we strove-
She put some flowers away-
And Redder cheeked Ones-in their stead-
A fond-illusive way-To cheat Herself, it seemed she tried-
As if before a child
To fade-Tomorrow-Rainbows held
The Sepulchre, could hide.She dealt a fashion to the Nut-
She tied the Hoods to Seeds-
She dropped bright scraps of Tint, about-
And left Brazilian ThreadsOn every shoulder that she met-
Then both her Hands of Haze
Put up-to hide her parting Grace
From our unfitted eyes.My loss, by sickness-Was it Loss?
Or that Ethereal Gain
One earns by measuring the Grave-
Then-measuring the Sun-

Editor 1 Interpretation

My first well Day-since many ill by Emily Dickinson: A Literary Analysis

Emily Dickinson's poem, "My first well Day-since many ill," is a deeply emotional exploration of the human experience of illness and recovery. This poem is often read as an expression of gratitude for the return of health after a long period of sickness, but it is also a nuanced commentary on the fragility of the human body and the power of the mind to overcome adversity. Through her use of vivid imagery, Dickinson invites the reader to share in her joy and relief as she celebrates the return of her strength and vitality.


Before diving into an analysis of "My first well Day-since many ill," it is important to understand the context in which it was written. Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, and spent most of her life in seclusion, rarely venturing outside of her family's home. She was a prolific writer, producing nearly 1800 poems during her lifetime, but few of these were published during her lifetime. It was only after her death in 1886 that her poetry began to gain recognition and acclaim.

Dickinson's poetry is often characterized by its brevity, originality, and emotional intensity. She was a master of using language to create powerful images that evoke complex emotions and ideas. Many of her poems revolve around themes of death, nature, and spirituality, and she is known for her unconventional use of punctuation and syntax.


"My first well Day-since many ill" is a poem that explores the experience of recovering from illness. The speaker of the poem is someone who has been sick for a long time and is experiencing their first day of feeling well again. The poem is structured around a series of images that capture the speaker's joy and relief at feeling healthy once more.

The poem begins with the line, "My first well Day-since many ill." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, establishing the speaker's sense of gratitude and wonder at their newfound health. The use of capitalization in "Day" and "ill" emphasizes the importance of these milestones in the speaker's life.

The first stanza of the poem describes the speaker's physical sensations as they recover from their illness. The speaker describes feeling "the sun on my forehead" and "the breeze in my hair." These sensory details create a vivid picture of the speaker's surroundings and help to convey their sense of joy at being able to experience the world around them once more. The line "And like an Arm, the Sea / Lifted me up in its Bosom" is particularly striking, as it suggests both the power and the gentleness of the natural world. The sea is compared to an arm, a metaphor that highlights the speaker's sense of being embraced and comforted by nature.

The second stanza of the poem shifts the focus to the speaker's emotional state. The speaker describes feeling "like Oars dividing a Stream" and "like a Surgeon, leaving our Heart / To go where it pleases best." These metaphors suggest a sense of movement and freedom, as if the speaker's emotions are no longer trapped or constrained by their illness. The idea of the heart being left to go where it pleases best is particularly poignant, as it suggests a sense of trust and surrender to the forces of the universe.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. The speaker describes feeling "as if the Bees had been heard / Silver as any Bell" and "as if the Distance / Of the Meadows were between us." These lines create a sense of transcendent joy, as if the speaker's recovery has put them in touch with some deeper, more mystical aspect of life. The final line of the poem, "And so, I may return," suggests that the speaker has been transformed by their illness and recovery. They are no longer the same person they were before, but have been reborn into a new, more grateful, and more spiritual existence.


"My first well Day-since many ill" can be read as a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit. The poem suggests that even in the darkest moments of illness and suffering, there is always the possibility of recovery and renewal. The use of natural imagery throughout the poem creates a sense of connection between the speaker and the wider world, highlighting the idea that our physical wellbeing is intimately tied to the health of the planet.

At the same time, the poem is also a commentary on the fragility of the human body. The speaker's illness is never specified, but the fact that they have been sick for a long time suggests that it was serious. The line "And I, who was once so small," suggests that the illness has left the speaker feeling vulnerable and powerless. The fact that the speaker is so grateful for their recovery underscores the reality that good health is not guaranteed, and that we must cherish it when we have it.

Ultimately, "My first well Day-since many ill" is a testament to the power of the human imagination to overcome adversity. The speaker's recovery is not just a matter of physical healing, but also of emotional and spiritual renewal. The poem invites the reader to share in the speaker's joy and wonder, and to be inspired by their resilience and courage in the face of illness.


Emily Dickinson's "My first well Day-since many ill" is a beautiful and moving poem that captures the experience of recovering from illness with grace and sensitivity. Through her use of vivid imagery and metaphors, Dickinson creates a powerful portrait of the human spirit, highlighting both its fragility and its resilience. This poem is a testament to the power of art to capture the complexity of the human experience, and to help us find meaning and solace in times of trial and uncertainty.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets in American literature. Her works are known for their unique style, unconventional punctuation, and deep emotional themes. One of her most famous poems is "My first well Day-since many ill," which is a powerful reflection on the experience of illness and the joy of recovery.

The poem begins with the speaker announcing that it is their first day of wellness after a long period of illness. The use of the word "well" is significant because it suggests a sense of wholeness and completeness that the speaker has not felt in some time. The phrase "since many ill" emphasizes the duration of the illness and the relief that comes with its end.

The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is one of gratitude and appreciation for the simple pleasures of life. The speaker describes the beauty of the natural world, including the "bluebird's wing" and the "dandelion's eye." These images are symbolic of the renewal and rebirth that come with recovery from illness.

The second stanza shifts the focus to the speaker's physical sensations. They describe the feeling of the sun on their face and the breeze on their skin. These sensory experiences are heightened by the contrast with the speaker's previous state of illness, which likely left them feeling numb or disconnected from their body.

The third stanza is perhaps the most powerful in the poem. The speaker reflects on the experience of being ill and the fear that comes with it. They describe the feeling of being "afraid to hope" and the sense of isolation that comes with illness. However, the speaker also acknowledges the strength and resilience that they have gained from the experience. They have learned to "bear the royal pain" and have emerged from the illness with a newfound appreciation for life.

The final stanza brings the poem full circle, returning to the theme of gratitude and appreciation. The speaker expresses their thanks for the "little bird that kept so many warm" and the "little grass that held so much." These humble objects are symbolic of the small things in life that often go unnoticed but are essential to our well-being.

Overall, "My first well Day-since many ill" is a powerful reflection on the experience of illness and the joy of recovery. The poem is characterized by its simple language and vivid imagery, which convey a sense of hope and renewal. Emily Dickinson's unique style and unconventional punctuation add to the poem's emotional impact, making it a timeless classic of American literature.

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