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Analysis Of “If You Were Coming In The Fall,” By Emily Dickinson

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    “If You Were Coming in the Fall,” by Emily Dickinson, expresses how, for a lover, anticipation without certainty causes anguish and misery, contrasting imagery and rhythm in the first four and last stanzas. In the first four stanzas, the imagery, repetition of words, and ballad meter invoke an illusion that dramatizes the insignificance of time. The simple, dreamy phrases “brush the summer by,” “wind the months in balls,” “only centuries,” and “toss [life] yonder like a rind,” show the speaker’s dreamy tone, in response to actually difficult situations.

    The speaker doesn’t give her problems her consideration, and uses imagery to respond unrealistically because, while dreaming, she does not have to deal with reality. Moreover, the repetition of the word, “if,” at the beginning of each of the four stanzas creates a pensive tone that takes her farther away from reality. The speaker’s use of ballad meter also adds to the dreaminess of the tone, creating a song, as she fantasizes about the insignificance of time. In contrast, the last stanza abruptly introduces different rhythm, and imagery that expose an indistinct and haunting reality.

    The first line, “But now, all ignorant of the length” has nine syllables, and shows the unexpectedness and indistinctness of reality. Unlike the first four stanzas, the last stanza does not flow, and the speaker can no longer dance to her dream. The new imagery portrays the scary, haunting reality, rather than a fluffy dream’–while in the first stanza, she shoos the fly, in the last stanza, “the goblin bee’..

    . will not state its sting. ” The speaker does not have control over the bee, which attacks her, and can never know when the sting will come.She is no longer dreaming, and instead, does not know what to expect because the uncertainty of when her lover will return overwhelms her.

    The contrast of the dreamy imagery, repetition of words, and rhythm in the first four stanzas and the erratic rhythm and imagery in the last stanza give the poem the unique power of expressing distress and uncertainty. After the first four stanzas build up the speaker’s dream, the last stanza faces a harsh reality, beginning with “But now. ” The music stops, and the dream is over? ‘–uncertainty must forever haunt the speaker, as she can never know when her lover will return.

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