Throughout this piece, readers are exposed to Dickinson’s skillful and unforgettable use of imagery. It’s quite easy to read and appreciate the lines of ‘My Garden — like the Beach,’ but it’s much harder to forget them. Some believe that Dickinson is herself the speaker in these lines, and she considers her own reaction to the summer season while envisioning her garden.
My Garden — like the Beach Emily Dickinson My Garden—like the Beach— Denotes there be—a Sea— That's Summer— Such as These—the Pearls She fetches—such as Me
Explore My Garden — like the Beach
‘My Garden — like the Beach’ by Emily Dickinson is a simple short poem about the summer season.
The poet spends the first lines of this piece describing how her garden is like the beach. When one sees her flowers blooming, they know the summer has arrived. In the same way, when one sees the beach, they know that they’re also going to see the ocean. Once grasped, the simple beauty of this simile is easy to appreciate. But, the poet doesn’t stop there. Using personification, she adds that summer brings her outside and into her garden just like the sea brings forth pearls. The poem ends on this note, allowing the reader to contemplate the natural beauty of these spaces and Dickinson’s skill with imagery.
Structure and Form
‘My Garden — like the Beach’ by Emily Dickinson is a five-line poem that is contained within a single stanza of text. The lines rhyme ABCDB and do not conform to a specific metrical pattern. They range in length from three syllables to six. A poem of this length, in regard to line umber and length, is not unusual for Dickinson. But, most commonly, readers will find her poems written in ballad meter. This means that they usually rhyme ABCB and alternate between iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter.
Throughout ‘‘My Garden — like the Beach,’ the poet makes use of several literary devices. For example:
- Caesura: can be seen when the poet inserts a pause into the middle of a line. For example, “Denotes there be — a Sea.” This is commonly seen through the use of Dickinson’s dashes.
- Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines four and five.
- Simile: can be seen when the writer creates a comparison between two things using “like” or “as.” For example, the first line in which the speaker compares her “Garden” to the “Beach.” She doesn’t say one is the other but that one is “like” or similar to the other.
- Imagery: occurs when the poet uses particularly interesting descriptions that appeal to the reader’s senses. For example, “These—the Pearls / She fetches” and “My Garden—like the Beach.”
My Garden — like the Beach —
Denotes there be — a Sea —
In the first lines of ‘My Garden — like the Beach,’ the speaker begins with the line that later came to be used as the title. This is common practice with Dickinson’s poems, as they were often left unnamed. She begins by noting that the garden is hers. It, she adds immediately, is like the beach.
This is an initially confusing comparison that is later explored in more detail in the following lines. But, to start, the reader is presented with a simile that should engage readers’ imaginations. The second line alludes to how one thing denotes another. Just as seeing a beach means there’s going to be a sea, so too does seeing the garden mean there’s something else. This is revealed in the third line.
That’s Summer —
Such as These — the Pearls
She fetches — such as Me
Line three completes the comparison between the beach and the sea and the garden and summer. The speaker is stating that when one sees the beach, they know that they are going to see the ocean. In the same way, when one sees her garden, they know they’re going to be experiencing summer. One is a symbol for the other.
At the same time, there’s another comparison going on. In the following lines, she uses personification, referring to the summer as “She.” The summer fetches the poet just as the sea brings forth “Pearls.”
The purpose is to celebrate summer, flowers, and how inspiring the season is. This is a fairly simple poem, especially as Dickinson’s poems go, and it allows the reader to appreciate the simple beauty of Dickinson’s imagery.
The speaker is likely meant to be the poet herself. She has, on more than one occasion, spent time writing about nature and specifically the influence of the seasons. It’s likely that she was thinking about her own garden when she wrote this poem.
The tone is peaceful and joyful. The speaker is celebrating the summer season, nature, and beautiful sights to behold within her garden.
The mood is peaceful and appreciative. Readers should walk away feeling at ease with the images they’ve been exposed to and appreciative of the simple joy of the summer season.
Throughout this poem, Dickinson engages with themes like nature, peace, and summer. The speaker is quite direct in her comparisons, and it does not take much analytical effort to understand what imagery Dickinson was thinking about.
Readers who enjoyed ‘My Garden — like the Beach’ should also consider reading other Emily Dickinson poems. For example:
- ‘There is another sky’ – addresses themes that are common to Shakespearean sonnets. These include writing as a way of preserving experience and beauty.
- ‘A Coffin is a Small Domain’ – is a poem that explores death. It is characteristic of much of the poet’s work in that it clearly addresses this topic and everything that goes along with it.
- ‘In this short life that only lasts an hour’ – a thoughtful, short poem. It is about how little we can control in our everyday lives.