‘The Cricket Sang‘ is a three-stanza poem that is separated into sets of four lines, or quatrains. These quatrains make use of a varied rhyme scheme that follows the pattern of ABBB CCCD EEFE. Each stanza conforms to its own individual pattern with no crossover in end sounds between the stanzas. This makes sense when one considers the narrative, yet still lyrical, nature of the text and how it chronicles the progression from evening until the darkest part of the night.
The same can be said, to some extent, for the metrical pattern. The second and third stanzas follow the same pattern. The first three lines are written in iambic tetrameter. This means that they contain four sets of two beats. The first of these is unstressed and the second stressed. The remaining fourth line of these stanzas is in iambic trimeter. It contains three sets of two beats.
The first stanza is different than the second or third. In it, the first two lines are in iambic dimeter, contain two sets of two beats. The third is in iambic tetrameter and the fourth in iambic trimeter.
The poem begins with the speaker stating simply that the “Cricket sang” and the sun began setting. These two things are very closely connected as if one causes the other. Men around the world finish their jobs and close up the “seam” of the day.
As the evening progresses dew builds up and “Twilight” comes to stand still and polite like a stranger. It is an in-between time that is not quite day or night. Dickinson uses an interesting simile here to compare twilight to the stranger who does not know whether to come or go.
The poem concludes with a few moving phrases that give the reader an idea of the emotional connection the speaker has to fully transition to night. She speaks of night as a place of safety for all hemispheres, it feels like home.
Dickinson’s use of Capitalization
One should also consider the use of capitalization in these lines. It 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 on 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 ‘The Cricket’s sang.” It is especially impactful in the final stanza. The elements mentioned: “Home,” “Peace” “Face” and “Name” are evoked as if they are forces with some sway over the coming of night.
Analysis of The Cricket Sang
The cricket sang,
And set the sun,
And workmen finished, one by one,
Their seam the day upon.
In the first stanza of ‘The Cricket Sang’ the speaker begins with the line that came to be used as the title. This is a simple statement that marks the setting of the sun. The way that the second line adds to the first makes it seem as though the song of the crickets is what triggers the sun to set. They are intrinsically tied together.
Unlike many of Dickinson’s poems, this one does not focus solely on nature. She adds in the third line that all the men working were finishing the day “one by one.” All over the world when the sun begins to set people to leave their jobs and put aside their hard work. Every part of the world has its evening customs. The speaker compares the end of the day to the finishing of a “seam” as in a piece of fabric, a wall, or any other material. Everything comes to its conclusion until the next day.
The low grass loaded with the dew,
The twilight stood as strangers do
With hat in hand, polite and new,
To stay as if, or go.
Time progresses further in the second stanza. Now, the dark has started to come on and the “low Grass” is “loaded with the Dew.” All around, the “Twilight” fills the land. It stands there, a solid, yet polite, presence. It is not overbearing or demanding. This time of day simply exists.
Dickinson’s speaker describes it as a liminal space between day and night. It is not quite either. Through a simile, twilight is associated with the stranger not fully committing to staying or going. It is always in a constant state of flux.
A vastness, as a neighbor, came,–
A wisdom without face or name,
A peace, as hemispheres at home,–
And so the night became.
In the third and final quatrain, the speaker uses caesura to break the lines into parts. These are dramatic pauses, similar to what she normally accomplishes with her dashes. The lines are lovely and quite lyrical. They are mostly made of up adjectives or other short descriptive phrases that give the reader an intense sensory perception of what night feels like to the speaker.
She says it has “A Vastness” when it came. There is also a “Wisdom, without Face, or Name.” It is not something that one can look at and understand. It is beyond human comprehension and therefore without a single “Face.”
Maintaining a peaceful tone, the speaker adds that the world feels “A Peace” that is similar to what one feels when they are safe at home. The “Hemispheres” themselves are said to be “at Home.” The final line is another simple statement, similar to those that she began the poem with. After these very lyrical and imagistic phrases, she adds simply, “And so the Night became.”