Heaven is What I Cannot Reach Summary and Analysis by Emily Dickinson

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Emily Dickinson is an American poet who has written many famous English poems in her lifetime. She had spent her life in solitude, where she had no visitors to meet her, or never met anyone. She wrote many poems on nature and religion. She had written some poems to her father and sister-in law as a token of communication. Here I am going to analyse the summary and style of the poem “Heaven”—is what I cannot reach!


Summary of Heaven is What I Cannot Reach by Emily Dickinson

“Heaven”—is what I cannot reach!
The Apple on the Tree—
Provided it do hopeless—hang—
That—”He aven” is—to Me!

In this stanza the poet is describing that she wants to reach the heaven, a place which is divine, and is free of pain and suffering. She describes that heaven is the place she can’t reach; a place where the tree of wisdom lies, which bears the forbidden fruit, which although has caused troubles before. She would love to go to such place, but she is unable to.
The Color, on the Cruising Cloud—
The interdicted Land—
Behind the Hill—the House behind—
There—Paradise—is found!

Dickinson now says that she knows where this heaven is, she knows where it lies. It lies behind the clouds that are coloured orange with the sunlight in the horizon, the land behind the clouds, which hides behind the house and the hills. She says that there is a place far beyond the surroundings that surround her, something which invites her there.

Her teasing Purples—Afternoons—
The credulous—decoy—
Enamored—of the Conjuror—
That spurned us—Yesterday!

The poet says describes about the beauty of the afternoons that teases her memories from yesterday. She says that the memories of the past haunts her and teases her, memories that are decorated with sweet and sour incidences.

Critical Analysis of Heaven is What I Cannot Reach by Emily Dickinson

Context: Emily Dickinson is am American poet who was born in 1830 in the city Massachusetts. She had lived her life in solitude, without having any visitors and friends to see her. The only means of communication was through letters, which she used to write to her father and sister-in-law. These letters were only poems that she used to write about the things that had mesmerised her. This poem is one her many scribbles, where she has written about the beauty of nature and thins that mesmerises her. The poet says that she wishes to reach heaven, where she wants to reach the heaven, a place where the forbidden fruit is present, a place which is far from her reach, a place she is not sure where it is, but she knows it lies somewhere beyond the horizon, behind the hills, and behind the houses. She is entwined with the memories of the afternoons, the beautiful moments which haunt her with its sweetness.


Rhyming Scheme and Structure: The rhyming scheme that the poet has followed in this poem is a b c a, which she has followed throughout the poem. For a better understanding, here is an example from the poem:

“Heaven”—is what I cannot reach! – a
The Apple on the Tree— -b
Provided it do hopeless—hang— -c
That—”He aven” is—to Me!-a

The poet has used many punctuation marks in the poem to bring out the expressions in the poem appropriately, which also helps the readers to know where to pause, and where to put more attention and how to understand the flow of the expressions in the poem. The poet is trying to keep the flow of the draw attention to few points in the poem, which would help the readers to understand the meaning of the poem better.

For the similar purpose, the poet has written few words starting with the upper case, which helps the readers to focus on them and understand their importance in the poem. This helps the reader to understand where to put emphasis and what is the importance of the words in the context and the poem.

Theme of the poem: The themes in the poem are imagery, nature, and religion, where the poet is giving beautiful description of the heaven, where she wants to go, but is unable to go, and the place is beyond the horizon, behind her house. She is haunted by the memories of the past, of the beautiful afternoons, which tickles her memories.

Imagery: The poet has used imagery as a tool to create an image of the mood and setting of the poem in the mind of the readers. The poet has given minute details of each and every thing that is involved in the poem, which has helped to complete entire picture of the poem in the mind of the readers.

Nature: Nature has been an important part of all poems of the poet. She writes this religious poem by drawing metaphors from nature, providing minute details of nature and its elements to provide a complete picture of the poem.

Deep Meaning: The deep meaning of this poem is that the poet wants to escape to a place, where there is no sorrow, no problems, and a place which is serene and divine. She wants to escape the materialistic world of emotions and go to a place where she leaves all of them behind.

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