Beautiful Illustration of Emily Dickinson’s poem “I started Early”

A lot of poets in the history of literature have written about the sea. Whitman and Hemingway are a few to name. While they have usually expressed the fierce side of the sea, Dickinson, who’d never had the privilege of actually witnessing the sea, writes about it in a subtle, fierce and original manner.

I started Early – Took my Dog –

1

And visited the Sea –

2

The Mermaids in the Basement

Came out to look at me –

3

And Frigates – in the Upper Floor

Extended Hempen Hands

4

Presuming Me to be a Mouse –

Aground – opon the Sands –

5

But no Man moved Me – till the Tide

Went past my simple Shoe –

6

And past my Apron – and my Belt

And past my Boddice – too –

7

And made as He would eat me up –

As wholly as a Dew

8

Opon a Dandelion’s Sleeve –

And then – I started – too –

9

And He – He followed – close behind –

I felt His Silver Heel

10

Opon my Ancle – Then My Shoes

Would overflow with Pearl –

11

Until We met the Solid Town –

No One He seemed to know –

12

And bowing – with a Mighty look –

At me – The Sea withdrew –

13
Dickinson was actually known for taking morning walks along with her dog, Carlo. So, like any other day, she is on her morning stroll. That day, she decides to visit the sea. Having never visited the sea, she plays with her imagination and portrays the sea in her own way. In Dickinson’s imagination, the sea becomes a world of wonder, with mystical creatures and magical beings. Frigates or square-rigged ships of the 18th and early 19th centuries offer her help, but she refuses because she is fixated by sea’s beauty. Suddenly, the entire mood of the poem changes, with the sea threatening to drown and engulf her. She feels a little scared. But then, she feels a force rescuing her, she feels his silver shoes marching with her and helping her. In the end that stranger (maybe Poseidon, the God of sea) rescues her, delivers her to a safe place and leaves with gentlemanly grace.

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