0002. Emily Dickinson's "There is another sky"
Emily Dickinson's Titles
* Emily Dickinson did not provide titles to her 1,775 poems; therefore, each poem's first line becomes the title. According to the MLA Style Manuel:
"When the first line of a poem serves as the title of the poem, reproduce the line exactly as it appears in the text."
APA does not address this issue.
* The numbers included with the Dickinsonian titles refer to the number of each poem from Thomas H. Johnson's The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.
Introduction and Text of Poem, "There is another sky"
Emily Dickinson's "There is another sky" is an innovative, or American, sonnet. The lines are short, only 3 to 5 metric feet, and with Dickinson's characteristic slant rime, the rime scheme is roughly, ABCBCDECFCGHIH.
(Please note: The incorrect spelling, "rhyme," was erroneously introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson. For my explanation for using only the correct form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")
This innovative sonnet sections itself into two quatrains and a sestet, making it a gentle melding of the English and Italian sonnets.
There is another sky
There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
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!
Reading of "There is another sky"
First Quatrain: "There is another sky"
In the first quatrain, the speaker claims that in addition to the sky of the physical universe, there is an additional sky in existence. But this other sky is "ever serene and fair." She then reports that there is also "another sunshine," which is capable of shining through darkness in this other place.
Second Quatrain: "Never mind faded forests, Austin"
The speaker then directly addresses another person, telling him that he should ignore "faded forests," and she calls the addressee by name, "Austin," who happens to be the brother of the poet. She then tells Austin also to ignore the "silent fields."
The reason he should ignore those faded forests and silent fields is that in this place to which she is inviting Austin, the "little forest" contains leaves that are perpetually green. The speaker remains very mysterious about this place where the sky, sunshine, forest, fields, and leaves behave differently from the physical universe.
Sestet: "Here is a brighter garden"
The speaker now claims that the place to which she refers is "a brighter garden," and this garden never experiences the killing effects of "frost." Its flowers remain "unfading" while she listens pleasurably to "the bright bee hum." The final couplet is the invitation to her brother to come into this wondrous garden: "Prithee, my brother, / Into my garden come!"
The Dickinson Riddle
This little American sonnet is one of Dickinson's many riddles. Her speaker never states explicitly that the garden is her poetry, but still, she is inviting her brother in to read her poems. Dickinson's speaker is implying throughout the sonnet that she has constructed a whole new world, where things can live untested by the molestations of the physical plane of life. The sky can remain "serene and fair."
And the sun can even shine through the darkness. Forests never die out, and the fields are always bursting with life; they never lie fallow as in the real world. And the trees enjoy wearing green leaves forever. She knows all this, because she has created it.
And like the master writer of the Shakespeare sonnets, Dickinson's speaker knows that she has fashioned out of crude nature an art that will provide pleasure in perpetuity. That she has the courage to invite her beloved brother into her world demonstrates the confidence she has in her creations.
© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes