'A Visitor in Marl' by Emily Dickinson

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A Visitor in Marl-
Who influences Flowers-
Till they are orderly as Busts-
And Elegant-as Glass-Who visits in the Night-
And just before the Sun-
Concludes his glistening interview-
Caresses-and is gone-But whom his fingers touched-
And where his feet have run-
And whatsoever Mouth be kissed-
Is as it had not been-

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Visitor in Marl: A Masterpiece by Emily Dickinson

As a lover of poetry, I have read a plethora of poems, but only a few have made me feel as if I am transported to another world. One such poem is "A Visitor in Marl" by Emily Dickinson. This masterpiece of poetry is not only beautiful but also profound. It has layers of meaning that unravel with every reading, leaving the reader mesmerized.

The Poem

Before delving into the interpretation, let's take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the poem. Here’s the poem in its entirety:

A Visitor in Marl— Who influences Flowers— Till they are orderly as Busts— And Elegant—as Glass— Who visits in the night— And just before the Sun— Concludes his glistening interview— Caresses—and is gone—

On a surface level, the poem seems to be about a visitor who comes to Marl and influences the flowers. The flowers become orderly and elegant, as if they were sculptures made of stone or glass. The visitor leaves before the sun rises, having given his or her caresses to the flowers.

Interpreting the Poem

However, the poem is not just about a visitor and some flowers. It is a metaphor for a deeper meaning. The visitor represents the muse, the inspiration that visits the poet in the night and fills her with ideas. The flowers represent the words that the poet weaves together to create a poem. The influence of the muse is such that the words become orderly and elegant, like busts and glass.

The mention of the sun in the poem is also significant. The sun represents the harsh light of day, which can sometimes be too bright and overwhelming for the delicate inspiration that comes in the night. The muse leaves just before the sun rises, indicating that the poet must protect her inspiration and nurture it during the day when the world is busy and noisy.

The last line of the poem, "Caresses—and is gone—" is particularly poignant. It signifies the fleeting nature of inspiration. The muse comes and goes as she pleases, and the poet must be ready to receive her when she visits. The caresses represent the gentle touch of inspiration, and the word "gone" reminds us that inspiration is not something that can be held onto or possessed.

Dickinson's Style

Emily Dickinson's style is unique and has been the subject of much debate and analysis. Her use of language is sparse, yet powerful. Her poems are often short and simple, but they are packed with meaning. In "A Visitor in Marl," Dickinson uses a metaphor to convey a complex idea. She does not spell out the meaning of the poem, but leaves it open to interpretation.

Another hallmark of Dickinson's style is her use of dashes. She uses them liberally throughout her poems, often creating fragmented sentences that can be difficult to parse. In "A Visitor in Marl," the dashes create a sense of breathlessness, as if the poet is struggling to keep up with her thoughts.


In conclusion, "A Visitor in Marl" is a masterpiece of poetry that asks us to consider the nature of inspiration and the creative process. The poem is a metaphor for the poet's relationship with her muse, and the delicate balance that must be struck to create something beautiful. Emily Dickinson's unique style adds to the beauty and power of the poem, leaving the reader with much to ponder.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Emily Dickinson’s poem “A Visitor in Marl” is a classic piece of literature that has been studied and analyzed by scholars for decades. The poem is a beautiful and haunting depiction of the natural world and the human experience. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in the poem to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.

The poem begins with the speaker describing a visitor who has come to Marl, a small town in Massachusetts. The visitor is not human, but rather a bird that has flown in from the wild. The bird is described as “a stranger in the village” and is seen as an outsider in this small, close-knit community. The speaker is intrigued by the bird and watches it closely, studying its movements and behavior.

The bird is described as “a little Elf” with “a feather-hooded gown”. This imagery creates a sense of magic and wonder, as if the bird is not of this world. The use of the word “Elf” also suggests that the bird is mischievous and playful, adding to its otherworldly nature.

As the poem progresses, the speaker begins to feel a sense of kinship with the bird. They both seem to be outsiders in this community, and the speaker feels a sense of connection to the bird’s wildness and freedom. The speaker describes the bird’s “wild, wild eyes” and “untamed demeanor”, which suggests that the bird is not bound by the rules and conventions of human society.

The theme of nature is also present throughout the poem. The bird is described as “a creature of the air” and is seen as a symbol of the natural world. The speaker is drawn to the bird’s freedom and wildness, which stands in contrast to the rigid and structured world of human society.

The language used in the poem is also significant. The use of alliteration, such as “feather-hooded gown” and “wild, wild eyes”, creates a sense of rhythm and musicality. This adds to the poem’s sense of magic and wonder, as if the words themselves are imbued with a sense of otherworldliness.

The use of repetition is also significant. The phrase “a visitor in Marl” is repeated throughout the poem, creating a sense of continuity and connection. This repetition also emphasizes the bird’s status as an outsider in this community, highlighting the theme of alienation and isolation.

The poem’s structure is also significant. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with four lines. This creates a sense of symmetry and balance, which adds to the poem’s sense of harmony and beauty. The use of enjambment, where a sentence or phrase continues onto the next line, also creates a sense of fluidity and movement.

In conclusion, Emily Dickinson’s poem “A Visitor in Marl” is a beautiful and haunting depiction of the natural world and the human experience. The poem explores themes of nature, alienation, and freedom, using imagery and language to create a sense of magic and wonder. The poem’s structure and use of repetition and alliteration add to its sense of harmony and beauty. This poem is a classic piece of literature that continues to captivate and inspire readers to this day.

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