‘There is another sky’ uses aspects of Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnets in order to craft an original sonnet form that does not conform strictly to either pattern. Dickinson addresses this theme and others, such as time, aging, and change, within the fourteen lines of this sonnet.
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Summary of There is another sky
Within the text, Dickinson speaks directly to her brother, Austin. She tells him that there is “another sky” where one can live without worry. There, the flowers live forever and there is no frost. Time has no power over her world, it exists exactly as she conceived of it forever. This bright and uplifting poem suggests that writing has a power that transcends time and experience.
Structure of There is another sky
‘There is another sky’ by Emily Dickinson is a fourteen-line sonnet that is contained within a single stanza of text. These lines do not follow either of the two most famous sonnet rhyme schemes, those belonging to the Shakespearean sonnet and the Petrarchan sonnet. Rather, Dickinson uses a combination of half-rhymes and perfect rhymes in order to create a feeling of rhyme that runs throughout the text. They follow a loose pattern ABCBCDECFCGHIH. In regards to meter, the lines are closely related, with three to five metrical feet per line.
A perfect rhyme is one that is normally associated with poetry, where all aspects of the two words correspond. For example, “come” and “hum” in lines twelve and fourteen and “fair” and “there” in lines two and four.
Half-rhyme, also known as slant or partial rhyme, is seen through the repetition of assonance or consonance. This means that either a vowel or consonant sound is reused within one line or multiple lines of verse. For instance, “sky” and “sunshine” at the ends of lines one and three as well as “garden” and “been”.
Poetic Techniques in There is another sky
Dickinson makes use of several poetic techniques in ‘There is another sky’. These include but are not limited to alliteration, enjambment, and metaphor. The latter is the most important technique at work in ‘There is another sky’. It is seen throughout the entire poem. Dickinson constructed it as one long extended metaphor that compares her writing, and the world she creates with her pen, to a garden. The “unfading flowers” are a symbol of an allusion to the way that time has no power over her written creations.
Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same sound. For example, “faded forests” and “fields” in lines five and six. 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. For example, the transition between lines eleven and twelve.
Analysis of There is another sky
There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
In the first four lines of ‘There is another sky,’ the speaker begins by making use of the line that later came to be used as the title. Dickinson’s poetry more often than not went without titles. They are usually known by the first line or by a number. The speaker suggests that there is “another sky” in addition to the sky that the listener is already familiar with. Under this sky, everything is “serene and fair”. Another sun shines there despite the fact that it’s “darkness there”.
While it is not entirely clear at this point what these lines refer to, as the speaker progresses it becomes clear that she is describing her writing through an elaborate metaphysical conceit. While writing, she is able to create her own world where everything stays as she originally depicted it and is not subject to the ravages of time.
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields –
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
In the next quatrain of ‘There is another sky,’ she addresses her brother, Austin. She asks this man to ignore the “faded forests” and the “silent fields” of the physical world. Rather, he should come to the little forest that she has created under the new sky. There, the “leaf is ever green”. This is an allusion to the way that life is sustained in this other world, nothing can touch it. This is emphasized further in the third quatrain.
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!
The speaker continues to describe her garden in the third and final quatrain of ‘There is another garden’. In these lines, she uses the word “brighter” to compare the world she has created to the one that everyone lives in physically. It is a place where there never has been, nor will there be, “a frost”. This is an allusion to death, change, and anything negative that in the real world is a true risk.
The flowers are “unfading,” they live forever without ever losing their beauty. There are other forms of life as well, such as the “bright bee”. These warm and bright images are concluded with the final couplet, or set of two lines at the end of a Shakespearean sonnet. They ask Austin, the poet’s brother, to again “come” to her garden. There, within her writing, he won’t have to be concerned with the dangers of the real world, aging, or change.