‘A Light Exists in Spring’ is one of the nearly 1,800 poems Emily Dickinson wrote. It was published along with her other poems published posthumously in 1890 in the volume Poems by Emily Dickinson. She was a famous American poet who lived during the 1800s, but only 10 of her poems are known to have been published in her lifetime. Along with Walt Whitman, Dickinson is generally recognized as one of the two leading 19th-century American poets.
A Light exists in Spring Emily DickinsonA Light exists in SpringNot present on the YearAt any other period —When March is scarcely hereA Color stands abroadOn Solitary FieldsThat Science cannot overtakeBut Human Nature feels.It waits upon the Lawn,It shows the furthest TreeUpon the furthest Slope you knowIt almost speaks to you.Then as Horizons stepOr Noons report awayWithout the Formula of soundIt passes and we stay —A quality of lossAffecting our ContentAs Trade had suddenly encroachedUpon a Sacrament.
Explore A Light exists in Spring
‘A Light Exists in Spring’ is a fine poem about the spring season. This speaker strives to portray a certain kind of light that “exists in spring” or very near spring, for it has moved her very deeply. Since the speaker cannot portray the light’s physical nature, she has remained vague about what this light looks like. However, she has made it quite clear how it has made her feel mentally and spiritually in the poem.
Form and Structure
‘A Light Exists in Spring’ is a simple nature poem of twenty lines. The poem is divided into five quatrains. It follows an inconsistent rhyme scheme in both free verse and blank verse form. While the 2nd and 3rd stanzas are free verse, still have rhyming, which also makes it a blank verse. The Rhyme Scheme is ABCB, DEFE, GHIH, JKLK, and MNON.
Theme and Setting
The poem ‘A Light exists in Spring’ revolves around the poet’s thoughts about this unique light that comes and goes only during spring. Spring, the season of new birth, brings something new in our life, shows us different things, and leaves us with the memories. At the same time, it has more a philosophical and religious connotation about the cycle of light and dark, day and night, life and death, etc.
The setting of the poem is in spring, as one sees “spring” being mentioned in the first line of the poem. Yet, there is another reference to the light that appears no sooner has March arrived, making it a poem set in the early spring.
Mood and Tone
The mood of the poem is calm and a serene feel could be felt for the poet ponders over this light that can only be seen in the spring. The tone seems to be whimsical compared to many of the spring poems that come with vibrancy. The mood and tone slowly turn more whimsical when the speaker watches the beautiful thing, like the light disappears while we humans stay.
Literary and Poetic Devices Used
‘A light exists in spring’ is a simple poem about the poet’s memories of the spring light. Yet, the poet has incorporated a number of literary/poetic devices. Some of the literary and poetic technique used in the poem includes imagery, symbolism, personification, and metaphor but are not limited to these.
Emily Dickenson is known for writing her poems with brilliant imagery. The second stanza in the poem stands to testify when she says, “It waits upon the lawn; / It shows the furthest tree / Upon the furthest slope we know; / It almost speaks to me.” While reading this stanza one cannot stop themselves from imagining a tree for away with the gleaming snow/raindrop on it.
The “light” in the poem is used to symbolize religion, for the fact that Dickinson says it only appears in the spring. The spring season is a strong symbol of rebirth. The “light” in the first three stanzas represents her hope for a better and/or happy life.
Personification plays a vital role in Dickenson’s description of the light in the spring season. In the lines “A Color stands abroad /On Solitary Fields,” one could see the use of personification. Light cannot literally stand, for it has no definite shape to determine and its fields are not solitary, either. Similarly, in the line, “wait[ing] upon the Lawn,” light is projected as if it is a human, which allows the observer to contemplate the nature of its existence.
Metaphor allows the reader to visualize the idea of the poet better. Dickinson brings out metaphors from nature, like the weather, light, and the cycle of day and night. In the line, “Without the Formula of sound / It passes and we stay,” use the light as a metaphor to express how it goes off without a warning when the right time comes. In the fifth stanza, the poet associates the loss of light that is special in spring to match with the loss of belief where “Trade” comes upon a “Sacrament” referring to the biblical incident where Jesus chases away the money handlers from the church.
Analysis, Stanza by Stanza
A light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here
In the first stanza of ‘A Light exists in Spring,’ the speaker speaks of a particular light. It can only be experienced during spring, not any other time. She emphasizes in the line “When March is scarcely here” that this light does appear. As it seems, the light may appear just before the season for Spring does not begin until the third week of March, not in late February.
A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That science cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.
In this stanza, the speaker claims that “A color stands abroad” on “solitary hills.” According to the speaker, this extraordinary “color” apparently has not been identified in nature by science. The speaker also hints that the color of this special light does not exist at all in nature. Perhaps, it is visible only to the human soul; as such, lights as the rainbow is visible to the eye. Ultimately, this stanza acknowledges that the human heart is alive to things that science can merely understand. In the end, she points out her view that the way nature and human interacts is far more complex and ineffable than a scientific analysis of nature.
It waits upon the lawn;
It shows the furthest tree
Upon the furthest slope we know;
It almost speaks to me.
In this third stanza, she mystically presents as if light and color wait “upon the Lawn.” At the same time, the light also appears in trees that grow very far away and gleams from there for the speaker views it. This strange mystical light “almost speaks” with the speaker from that far distance. Again, she emphasizes the language only known to the soul. Evidently, the speaker attempts to elicit her listeners and readers that the light that she sees is quite impossible to shape into words.
Then, as horizons step,
Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,
It passes, and we stay:
In this fourth stanza, Dickinson speaks of the ultimate nature of light and time, for they do not stay with men forever. Thus the light passes on while the humans remain even after that light is gone. The stanza also highlights the potential truth of “life goes on.” So as we see here, the special light seems to resemble sunlight after it has passed overhead around the noon hour. Evidently, when the time comes, the light leaves without a word, a sound, or some other sign to help her understand the strange feeling. It looks as if Dickinson might have expected the speaker seems to have that this light engendered in her.
A quality of loss
Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a sacrament.
In this last stanza of the poem, the speaker expresses a deep loss. As a continuation of what has happened in the previous stanza, she feels as if something unfortunate has happened. She compares her grief to the way Jesus felt when he saw those money handlers in the church. This loss of the light that is special in spring seems inappropriate as to that of the encroachment of “Trade” “Upon a Sacrament.”
Spring has always been a famous season that inspired and motivated literary personalities across ages. Some of the beautiful poems of spring can be read to understand the talisman of spring.
- ‘Spring in War Time’ by Sara Teasdale
- ‘Sonnet 98: From you have I been absent in the spring‘ by William Shakespeare
- ‘Spring‘ by Christina Rossetti
- ‘Today‘ by Billy Collins
- ‘Lines Written in Early Spring‘ by William Wordsworth