The short poem written by Emily Dickinson is open to several interpretations. It makes references to the sea with key words such as ships, seas, sailors and Wharfs. However, others might argue the poem talks about gardens. Some might even argue the poem is about a sunset. Emily Dickinson uses metaphors and imagery to allow for various interpretations of the poem. At first glance, the poem appears to be talking about the sea. This is apparent because the poet uses words such as ships, seas, sailors, and Wharf. However, Dickinson places these words in such a context that it is obvious the poem is not a simple reference to the sea.Order now
The poem starts out with “Where Ships of Purple”. However, in reality, ships are never purple. By making the ship purple, the poet immediately tells the reader that these are no ordinary “ships” and have some deeper meaning to them. This line can be a metaphor to clouds and flowers. When we talk about clouds, we usually say they “sail” across the sky similar to ships sailing in water. Although clouds are usually white, they appear purple during sunsets. However, the ships of purple could also refer to purple flowers in a garden. From the beginning, the poem allows for various interpretations of the same sentence.
The next line is “Gently toss”. The poet used this line because it can have a variety of meanings. Some might picture a ship being gently tossed by the waves. However this can be a metaphor for clouds moving across the sky. Another interpretation of this line would be this line is a metaphor for flowers being blown by the wind. The next line is “On seas of Daffodil”. For the first time in the poem, the poet makes a direct reference to flowers, the Daffodil. One obvious interpretation is there are many Daffodils in the garden. However, “Daffodil” would usually be in plural if it were referring flowers.
Since it is singular in the poem, it is likely referring to the color. This would lead to another interpretation- that the seas of Daffodil are actually the waves of light from the sunset. The next line is “Fantastic sailors-mingle”. This is a metaphor for the bees, who are the fantastic sailors, mingling with the flowers. However, mingle could also be the entwining of the colors in a sunset. The poem ends with “and then- the wharf is still. ” This could refer to the empty wharf after the sailors have ended their day and went home. This could also be a metaphor for the sun finally setting and the sky becoming dark.
It is “still” because most activities stop after the sun has set. This could also be a metaphor for the flowers becoming still after the wind has passed by. Emily Dickinson makes excellent use of metaphors to allow for various interpretation of the poem. Some might view the poem as a ship sailing in the ocean and finally returning back to the wharf. Others might view it as the wind and bees passing along a peaceful garden. This poem can also be interpreted as a sunset. Dickinson uses metaphors and imagery to allow for these various interpretations.