Fairer through Fading — as the Day

Emily Dickinson

‘Fairer through Fading — as the Day’ by Emily Dickinson describes the sun and the value of all things. She uses the day as a symbol for what’s lost and will come again.

Emily Dickinson

Nationality: America

Emily Dickinson redefined American poetry with unique line breaks and unexpected rhymes.

Notable works include 'Because I could not stop for Death' and 'Hope is the Thing with Feathers.' 

Key Poem Information

Central Message: All things have a value

Themes: Aging, Beauty, Death

Speaker: Unknown

Emotions Evoked: Abandonment, Depression, Grief, Sadness

Poetic Form: Quatrain

Time Period: 19th Century

Dickinson's exploration of things lost in this poem is highly relatable. Who among us hasn't found themselves longing for something, or someone, who is lost?

Fairer through Fading — as the Day’ uses a complex combination of poetic diction and syntax that results in an image and emotion-rich landscape. She speaks on themes of life, death, and memory. 

Fairer through Fading — as the Day
Emily Dickinson

Fairer through Fading — as the DayInto the Darkness dips away —Half Her Complexion of the Sun —Hindering — Haunting — Perishing —

Rallies Her Glow, like a dying Friend —Teasing with glittering Amend —Only to aggravate the DarkThrough an expiring — perfect — look —
Fairer through Fading — as the Day by Emily Dickinson


‘Fairer through Fading — as the Day’ by Emily Dickinson is a complex, beautiful poem that speaks on the value of things that have been lost.

In the first lines, the speaker describes the setting sun and how as it goes down the daylight feels more valuable. When it was day, this wasn’t the case, but now as it’s losing its prominence in the sky, the speaker has a new fondness for it. There are a few dramatic moments as Dickinson’s word choice aggrandizes this particular moment and the sun flares up again “aggravat[ing]” the darkness. It does finally set and the day is gone. 

Poetic Techniques

Fairer through Fading — as the Day’ by Emily Dickinson is a two stanza poem that’s separated into sets of four lines or quatrains. These quatrains follow a simple rhyme scheme of AABC DDEF. Dickinson makes use of alliteration, enjambment, and repetition. The latter is the use and reuse of a specific technique, word, tone, or phrase within a poem. For example, the word “Dark” appears in both stanzas. There is also a similarity to the ways the lines are structured with coinciding dashes and capitalized letters. 

Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. This technique is used frequently throughout ‘Fairer through Fading — as the Day’. For instance, with “Darkness dips” and “Half Her” and “Hindering—Haunting”. 

Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. The most obvious example of this technique in action is the transition between lines one and two of the first stanza. 

Dickinson’s Dashes and Capitalization

Scholars are divided over what this intermittent punctuation could mean. But in this case, the dashes are easily read as moments in which the speaker was overwhelmed or thinking hard before proceeding. The pauses represent a desire to create drama and tension in the text. It is also a way for the reader, speaker, and even Dickinson herself, to gather thoughts together before moving on to the next line. 

One should also consider the use of capitalization in these lines. This is another technique that Dickinson is known for, and which causes confusion among students and scholars alike. There is no single definitive reason why Dickinson capitalized the words she did. Often, the words she chose were the most prominent of the lines, the ones that were the most evocative and meaningful. This appears to be the case in ‘Fairer through Fading–as the Dayas well.

Analysis of Fairer through Fading — as the Day

Stanza One

Fairer through Fading — as the Day
Into the Darkness dips away —
Half Her Complexion of the Sun —
Hindering — Haunting — Perishing —

In the first stanza of ‘Fairer through Fading — as the Day’ the speaker begins by utilizing the line that later became known as the title of the poem. In this line, the speaker discusses how the day becomes more beautiful in the speaker’s memory as it disappears. She finds that the evening and twilight hours bring her a greater appreciation for the light when it was fully present.  Dickinson depicts the day as a force that can “dip” into darkness and fade away. 

The poet makes use of alliteration in the next lines as she discusses the day’s remaining warm, lit complexion. She describes how the day is already party obscured by the night. But, it remains “Haunting” any who are looking close enough to notice. 

Stanza Two

Rallies Her Glow, like a dying Friend —
Teasing with glittering Amend —
Only to aggravate the Dark
Through an expiring — perfect — look —

In the next four lines of ‘Fairer through Fading — as the Day,’ the speaker describes how at the last moment part of the glow is “Rallied”. It seems to gain new life. This is compared with another simile to “a dying Friend”. The entire poem is an extended metaphor comparing the setting of the sun to death, or more broadly, loss. 

It appears in the second line of the second stanza that there is some life left in the day. It glitters and teases, as though it’s going to make a comeback. This doesn’t happen though. The day ends up only “aggravat[ing] the Dark” and then expiring. There is one final “perfect” look at the end that is made all the more beautiful because it doesn’t last. 

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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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