'When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side' by Emily Dickinson

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When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side,
When Katie runs unwearied they follow on the road,
When Katie kneels, their loving hands still clasp her pious knee-
Ah! Katie! Smile at Fortune, with

Editor 1 Interpretation

"When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side" by Emily Dickinson: A Literary Criticism

When it comes to American poetry, few names come to mind quite like Emily Dickinson. Known for her unique poetic style that often dealt with themes of death, nature, and spirituality, the reclusive poet left behind a legacy of work that continues to captivate readers to this day. One such poem is "When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side," a short and sweet piece that offers a glimpse into the everyday life of a young woman named Katie. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll take a closer look at Dickinson's poem and explore its themes, language, and overall impact.


Before we dive into the poem itself, it's worth exploring a bit of the context behind it. Emily Dickinson lived a relatively sheltered life in Amherst, Massachusetts, rarely venturing outside of her family's home. Despite this, she was an avid reader and writer, and many of her poems dealt with the internal struggles and emotions that she grappled with throughout her life. Dickinson's poetry was largely unrecognized during her lifetime, but after her death in 1886, her sister Lavinia discovered hundreds of her poems and worked to get them published. Today, Dickinson is widely regarded as one of the greatest American poets of all time.


Now, let's take a closer look at "When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side." Here's the poem in full:

When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side,
When Katie runs, they climb and fall,
When Katie sings, their gladdest wings are made to glide,
And when she sleeps, they fan her sleeping hall.

At first glance, the poem seems straightforward enough. It describes a pair of birds that accompany a woman named Katie as she goes about her day. However, as with much of Dickinson's work, there's more to this poem than meets the eye.


One of the most prominent themes in "When Katie walks" is that of companionship. The birds in the poem are a constant presence in Katie's life, accompanying her as she walks, runs, and even sings. This sense of constant companionship is something that many people crave, and it's clear that Katie finds comfort in the birds' presence.

There's also a sense of harmony and balance in the poem. The birds soar and glide as Katie sings, creating a sense of unity between the natural world and human experience. This theme of interconnectedness is a common one in Dickinson's poetry, and it's one that speaks to the human need for connection and understanding.


One of the most striking things about "When Katie walks" is the simplicity of its language. Dickinson doesn't use flowery language or complex metaphors; instead, she relies on straightforward descriptions to paint a picture of Katie's world.

However, this simplicity is deceptive. The poem's language is carefully chosen to create a sense of intimacy and familiarity. The use of the word "simple" to describe the birds, for example, creates a sense of comfort and familiarity. The repetition of the word "when" at the beginning of each line creates a sense of rhythm and routine, underscoring the everyday nature of Katie's life.


Despite its simplicity, "When Katie walks" is a poem that lingers in the mind long after it's been read. Its themes of companionship and interconnectedness are universal, and its language is accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds.

The poem also speaks to the power of observation. Dickinson was known for her keen observation skills, and "When Katie walks" is a testament to her ability to find meaning in the everyday world around her. By paying attention to the birds that accompany Katie, Dickinson is able to create a poem that is both simple and profound.


In conclusion, "When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side" is a poem that is both simple and complex. Its themes of companionship and interconnectedness are timeless, and its language is accessible to readers of all backgrounds. As with much of Emily Dickinson's work, the poem rewards close reading and careful attention to detail. Whether you're a seasoned poetry reader or a newcomer to the genre, "When Katie walks" is a poem that is sure to captivate and inspire.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side: a poem by Emily Dickinson that captures the essence of companionship and the beauty of nature. This classic poem is a perfect example of Dickinson's unique style of writing, which is characterized by its simplicity, depth, and emotional intensity.

At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple description of a woman walking with her dog and a bird. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that there is much more to this poem than meets the eye. The poem is a celebration of the beauty of nature and the joy of companionship.

The first line of the poem, "When Katie walks," immediately draws the reader into the scene. We can imagine Katie walking through a field or a forest, with her faithful companions by her side. The use of the present tense gives the poem a sense of immediacy and makes the reader feel as though they are right there with Katie.

The next line, "this simple pair accompany her side," introduces us to Katie's companions: a dog and a bird. The use of the word "simple" is significant here, as it suggests that these companions are not just any dog and bird, but rather simple, unassuming creatures that are nonetheless important to Katie.

The poem then goes on to describe the dog and the bird in more detail. The dog is described as "a sauntering hen," which is an interesting choice of words. The word "sauntering" suggests a leisurely pace, while "hen" is a term usually used to describe a female chicken. This creates an image of a dog that is both relaxed and nurturing, which is a unique and endearing quality.

The bird, on the other hand, is described as "a single ripple on the water." This is a beautiful metaphor that captures the bird's lightness and grace. The use of the word "ripple" suggests movement and fluidity, while "water" suggests calmness and serenity. Together, these qualities create an image of a bird that is both delicate and powerful.

The final line of the poem, "that unobliterated kindliness we find in dogs and few men," is perhaps the most significant. Here, Dickinson is suggesting that the companionship of a dog and a bird is just as valuable as that of a human. She is also suggesting that the kindness and loyalty of dogs is rare in humans, which is a sad but true observation.

Overall, When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side is a beautiful poem that celebrates the beauty of nature and the joy of companionship. Dickinson's use of simple language and vivid imagery creates a scene that is both peaceful and uplifting. The poem is a reminder that sometimes the simplest things in life can bring us the most joy, and that the companionship of animals can be just as valuable as that of humans.

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