“Wild Nights” by Emily Dickinson (2.analysis)

20190325_173821 wild sea

First Stanza
Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

The repeated phrase in the first stanza immediately gives the idea that the speaker has experienced something extraordinary.
The author suggests that if she and “thee” (the other person) were together then there would be not just one, but a series of wild nights, defined as their “luxury” (a prominent word in the stanza, rhyming with the previous lines). Even though this could have a spiritual meaning, we have to remember that the word luxury, in Emily Dickinson’s time, still meant lust, gratification of the senses, sensual pleasure.

Second Stanza
Futile the Winds
To a Heart in port,
Done with the Compass,
Done with the Chart.

The winds now can cause no change, they do nothing against “a Heart in port”, which represents the stability provided by love: their effort is therefore “futile”.
The following lines reinforce the idea that lovers do not require a compass or a chart on troubled seas any longer, since they have reached their destination, and they are “done” with those aids.
The repetition of the word “done” may also hint at the idea of completion, fulfilment, which can be sexual or spiritual,

Third Stanza
Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!

In the third stanza love’s power makes everything like “rowing in Eden” where “Eden” seems to describe the heavenly state of being together.
In Eden, Adam and Eve’s biblical garden, the speaker is in a boat, rowing across a sea, an action that, according to some, with its rhythmical movement, may represent a sensual act.
On that sea, the speaker longs for the anchorage of her lover’s presence. “Tonight” gives an idea of immediacy, connected to her wishful thinking (“Might I …moor”), which means to be fastened to a fixed object, so as to be unable to move away.

The speaker has passed from a general desire, in the previous “wild nights”, to a specific situation, “tonight” and is enthusiastically looking forward to this time, when love and fulfilment will be achieved, either through human intimacy and bonding, or through a spiritual act leading to God. The biblical allusion to Eden may reinforce the idea that this connection could be a religious metaphor for a new relationship with God.
Therefore, it might be a journey to safety, from the original sin (“Luxury,”) to “Eden”, from erotic pleasure towards purity.

13 thoughts on ““Wild Nights” by Emily Dickinson (2.analysis)

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