On the other hand phantoms are seen as scary things because they are ghosts. Perhaps the poet is trying to put across that the female looked like a ghost. Then again this could be a metaphor to describe her as an angel. The poet has used adjectives to make the poem more effective and powerful to the reader, “her dusky hair”. So far the poems structure has been flowing nicely until the last two lines effectively make the poem upbeat, “an image gay, To haunt, to startle, and way-lay”. The first verse has seemed to praise the female and make her seem like a special person. The second verse proves slightly differently.
The use of the exclamation mark on the second line on the second verse, “A Spirit, yet a Woman too! “, projects to the reader that the poet is somewhat surprised that she is in fact a woman. This may be to express the metaphor on the first verse, the assumption that he is portraying her as an angel. Then again he may be insulting her, referring to the way that she looks. The third line on the second verse, “Her household motions light and free”, make the reader think that perhaps the poet is talking about the way she walks/acts. He may be saying that she walks gracefully and beautifully then again he may be saying that she has nothing.
He may be making the assumption that she is in fact poor and has nothing hence walking, “light and free”. The seventh and eighth line on the second verse, “A creature not too bright or good For human nature’s daily food’, is a long metaphor. The female is not in fact a creature nor is she food for a human. The poet may be trying to relate to what someone has to deal with. Therefore, once again, insulting the female character by saying she is “not too bright or good”. The last two lines of this verse are once again up beat. This flows with the structure set out on the first verse.
This second verse seems like the poet is slightly wary of the female character, as if he were having second thoughts about her, unlike the first verse where he seemed to praise her all the way through. The poet has once more used a metaphor on the second line of the third verse, “the very pulse of the machine”. The “machine” is relating to the female. He may be saying that she is like a machine, someone who is being worked unwillingly. The poet then describes her “breathing thoughtful breath”. The reader understands by this that she is perhaps being controlled perfectly and is being portrayed as a perfect figure.
The poet then goes on to say that she is a “Traveler between life and death”. Some may say that this portrays the image that she may be lost. Then again some may argue that he is basically saying that she is so perfectly controlled that she is not life nor is she death. Perhaps she doesn’t exist. The fifth to eighth line is upbeat and breaks the flowing structure to the poem. As we understood, the only upbeat parts in the first and second verse were the last two lines but the third verse has chosen differently. After all this speculation of what she is and how she is, the last line says she is “something of angelic light”.
The poet praising her like an angel, just like the metaphor in the beginning of the poem did. It seems like the poet chooses to overcome all of his wary thoughts about the female and decides that she is a good person. Emily Dickinson: By the Sea. I started early, took my dog, And visited the sea; The mermaids in the basement Came out to look at me. And frigates in the upper floor Extended hempen hands, Presuming me to be a mouse Aground, upon the sands. But no man moved me till the tide Went past my simple shoe, And past my apron and my belt, And past my bodice too, And made as he would eat me up
As wholly as a dew Upon a dandelion’s sleeve – And then I started too. And he – he followed close behind; I felt his silver heel Upon my ankle, – then my shoes Would overflow with pearl. Until we met the solid town, No man he seemed to know; And bowing with a mighty look At me, the sea withdrew. This poem may be interpreted in many different ways. Many may argue that the poem is quite simply about the sea and a female, “And visited the sea. ” Where others may read in between the lines and argue that it is a sexually orientated poem about a man and a woman, “He would eat me up” and “He followed – close behind”.
The first verse gives the reader the first clue of the sea, “And visited the sea”. The author also uses a metaphor in this verse, “The mermaids in the basement came out to look at me”. Of course the mermaids did not come out to look at her because they do not exist. Some may agree that the mermaids relate to the fish in the water and that the female in the story finds them to be as beautiful as mermaids. Then again, it may simply be that the poet is primarily attracted to the sea. This first verse is very innocent and sounds a little like a fairytale, as does the second verse.
We cam tell that she has chosen to go to the sea, “visited”, tells us that the sea was the destination. We can also tell that the poet has used the metaphor of a house in the first and second verse. “Basement” may relate to the bottom of the sea and “the upper floor” may relate to the surface of the sea. The poet uses personification to describe the sea as a man in the first verse. The reader may believe that the female is sexually innocent, “though no man moved me” until she is sexually moved, “moved me – Till the tide” surrounded her.
The tide has moved up her body and past her, “Bodice”. This brings forward sexual interpretations to the reader. The third and fourth verses seem to be very sexual, perhaps as if a man were sexually attacking her. “He would eat me up” portrays the image that she is scared of him. On the contrary, many would argue that ‘him’ is actually the sea, therefore she is only relating to the waves themselves. The last line of the third verse makes the reader think that perhaps she is starting to be sexual herself, as though she has given herself into the man, “And then – I started – too”.
The first line of the fifth verse on the other hand, sounds as though she is trying to escape from him, “And he – he followed – close behind”. The repetition used is the only repetition used in the poem and portrays the image that she is scared. “His silver heel” and “overflow with pearl” may also have some sexual meaning, yet some may argue that it is simply the sea flowing on her and the ‘pearl’ would relate to the foam from the sea. The last verse tells us that she has reached safety, “meet the solid town”.
The word ‘solid’ emphasises that she has reached the town, therefore perhaps giving the reader a sign of relief. The third line on the last verse states that the sea headed off “bowing – with a mighty look”. Some may argue that he is acknowledging his opponent because he has bowed to her, though we know that the sea has not actually bowed, the poet is using a metaphor. Many may argue that this poem is in no way sexual whatsoever but is in fact interpreting the possibility that the female has a phobia of the sea and therefore the poet has written this poem to make the reader read in between the lines.