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There's a certain Slant of light, by Emily Dickinson


"There's a certain Slant of light" is a poem written by Emily Dickinson. This Dickinson poem speaks of winter light. At first, it is "like the Heft / Of Cathedral Tunes". Then it is stated to be "Heavenly Hurt", but "We can find no scar". Instead, the light gives "But internal difference, / Where the meanings, are". Of course, this light also leads to "imperial affliction". It is so powerful, that "When it comes, the Landscape listens" and its departure is like "the look of Death".

So what is this poem really about? Religion. It is made up of four stanzas with four lines in each. The first and third lines have an imperfect rhyme scheme as do the second and fourth lines.

Johnson number: 258


There's a certain Slant of light

There's a certain Slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
'Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 't is like the distance
On the look of death.

Next: There's been a Death, in the Opposite House
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Literary Movement
19th Century

Winter, Religion, Death

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