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Home » , » Write a Critical appreciation of "Wild Nights-Wild Nights"

Emily Dickinson was born on 10 December 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts, where her grandfather had been a leader in founding Amherst College. Her father, Edward Dickinson, a successful lawyer, who became a member of Congress, served the college as a trustee and was its treasurer for forty years. He was a stern and authoritarian moralist. The Church wielded the highest authority in the conservative Amherst of that day. It was a small and rigid world, ideally constructed to provoke the rebelliousness latent in  Dickinson’s spirit.

The poet addresses imaginary wild nights and guesses that if her lover were present with her she could enjoy herself wildly with her lover throughout the nights. Her heart was firmly reposed in the port of love. So she has no fear of winds that could upset her. She does not require any compass or chart for a sea voyage because hers is not an actual port of the ship. They would be rowing in Eden, heaven, and that is the sea. She wishes she could have moored, or safely anchored interloper. 

The poet has expressed her feelings of unbounded sexual enjoyment with her lover during nights through the metaphor of a sea voyage. The voyage in the sea symbolizes her enjoyment of sexual pleasures with her lover. The ship is safely anchored at the port this symbolizes her stable position in her love for her lover so that she does not fear any stormy winds that might overturn the ship. 

Many critics have found the poem an unusual one for a poet like Dickinson who is regarded as a recluse. But it should be remembered that this poem was written in the year 1861, and Dickinson’s love affair with Reverend Wadsworth continued from 1854 to 1862. The date of composition of this poem falls within the period of her love affair. It is possible that she gave vent to her feelings of sexual pleasure with her lover. 

Another interpretation of the poem is possible. It may be the portrayal of a religious experience. In this interpretation, the lover is nobody else but God. The mystics often describe the joy they feel while communicating with God in language which connotes sexual pleasure. It is possible that since the human language is incapable of expressing the mystic experience of union with God, the mystics have recourse to language which apparently seems to express feelings of sexual pleasure. 

Several rhetorical figures have been used successfully, to express the feelings of the poet effectively. The very title of the poem or the very first line of the poem contains a hypallage or transferred epithet. “Wild nights” means the poet is wild, not the night. The wildness of the night has been transferred to nights. “To a heart in port” is a metaphor, “Compass”, “Chart”, “the sea”, and “moor” are symbols, the images being taken from a sea voyage. 

The prosodic features are also noticeable. The meter is inconsistent, and the rhymes are irregular. The rhyme scheme of the first stanza is ABBB, of the second and last stanza ABCB. The words chosen are very expressive. The stresses are very irregular, which denotes excessive passion. In all, the poem is successful from all points of view. The poetic techniques — rhetorical figures and sound devices, and the prosodic features like stanza form, meter, rhyme, and rhythm — are perfectly suited to the theme of the poem. All the elements combine to produce an excellent work of art.


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