The Speaker of “Wild Nights – Wild Nights!”
Poems are a creative way of expressing feelings and thoughts. While some poems may be short, they are typically profound in their expressions. A crucial part of fully understanding the meaning of a poem is understanding its speaker. Emily Dickinson’s poem Wild nights – Wild nights! may be confusing at first, but once the image of the speaker behind the words is clear, the poem is rather explicit.
Without going into detailed narration, the amount of exclamation points in the poem shows that the speaker is rather passionate in expressing their feelings. The line “were I with thee” in the context of wild nights indicates that the speaker is talking to one person making the poem feel quite intimate (Levine, 2017, p. 1665). As the speaker calls the wild nights their “luxury,” it shows that they treasure the time spent with the person to whom the poem is addressed (Levine, 2017, p. 1665). The first part of the poem draws an image of an ardent person expressing romantic feelings.
Further, the poem deviates from describing the wild nights but starts expressing deeper feelings. The speaker calls the winds “futile” to “a Heart in port,” which shows that the speaker is determined to reunite with the addressee of the poem no matter what (Levine, 2017, p. 1665). When the speaker says that they are “done” with the compass and the chart, it could mean that they do not need anything or anyone to find the person they seek (Levine, 2017, p. 1665). The second part of the poem shows the speaker as a determined person who is longing for their loved one.
Lastly, the poem ends in a concise manner showing the speaker’s perception of the future. As the speaker is “rowing in Eden,” it may seem that they consider the path to their loved one as a pleasant journey (Levine, 2017, p. 1665). Emphasizing the word “tonight” along with “might I but moor”, the speaker suggests that they are getting closer to the addressee of the poem and hoping for a reunion in a short time (Levine, 2017, p. 1665). The last part of the poem presents a joyful person full of hope for the future.
When describing the speaker of a poem, it may be helpful to look at the author. Emily Dickinson’s love poems seem to represent her own relationships with other people as she used first-person speakers to “dramatize” the situations she described (Levine, 2017, p. 1654). Her biography shows that she fell in love multiple times, which can indicate that she was a passionate romantic herself (Levine, 2017). Whether she expresses her own feelings in Wild nights – Wild nights! or it is fully a work of imagination is questionable; however, there may be some resemblance between her and the speaker.
To summarize, the speaker of the poem is unidentified, and there is no certainty in saying that the poem is based on the author’s real relationship with someone. However, there is no obstruction to describe an image of the speaker. The speaker is a passionate person involved in a relationship with someone. This relationship seems to be pleasant; however, the two parties are separated from each other. The speaker is determined to reunite with the poem’s addressee and is positive of a quick reunion. Neither the identities of the speaker and the addressee nor the details of their relationship are clear; however, the poem indicates a strong feeling expressed by the speaker.
Levine, R. S. (Ed.). (2017). The Norton anthology of American literature (9th ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.