Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

Two Shades of Black: Emily Dickinson's "We grow accustomed to the Dark-"

In Emily Dickinson's 419th untitled poem, more commonly known by its first line, "We grow accustomed to the Dark-", the speaker describes two distinct situations in which people must gradually adjust to "darkness". The first portion is fairly lucid, using concrete images to portray a simple nighttime farewell that describes the time it takes for eyes to adapt to a lack of light; however, though the final stanzas comment on the same theme of reorienting oneself amid obscurity, this last portion is ensconced in symbolism and conspicuous abstraction. Only by examining the similarities and differences of both can a clear message be extrapolated from the poem. Utilizing the ease and palpability of the poem's first two stanzas as a foundation, Dickinson makes the metaphorical analogy that people need time and courage to adjust not only to the physical darkness of night, but to the emotional darkness of the mind, as well.

The poem begins with two stanzas containing concrete, perceptible imagery that establish the mood, theme, and basis for the message that the poem will build upon. It begins with broad strokes ("We grow accustomed to the Dark -/ When light is put away") and continues to describe...

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