Emily Dickinson- Emily Dickinson was a poetess of the 20th century even though she wrote in the 19th century. The reason behind was, she never really published her work during her lifetime, as she felt secure confined to her home. Her father never forced her to marry, he was the part of the Congress and lived quite a progressive life. She was all by herself in the later years of her life. The scholars say, that her writing was fresh as if someone wrote without the fear of facing criticism. She wrote what she saw and never tried to alter her work for the sake of others. The unconventional use of punctuation and the prolific 1800 poems showed she loved writing more as a passion than as a profession.
Setting of If You were coming in the Fall-
The poem is written during the Civil War when Emily’s close relatives went to participate in the War.
Poetic devices in If You were coming in the Fall-
Repetition: The repetition of the clause “if” brings an unsteadiness in the poem.
Figurative language: The speaker says she will wind the months in yarn balls which are impossible literally.
The poem is written in free verse with no specific rhyming scheme. She barely followed any version of rules in poetry as she wrote only for herself. The poem has five stanzas.
Summary of If You were coming in the Fall-
The speaker waits for the arrival of her lover but she is undermined of the time. In the first stanza she says that if she has to wait for him a season, she would pass summer happily, by doing the household chores as the housewives kill away the flies. Here, the reference of housewives determines that the speaker is a lady who is waiting for her lover’s arrival but is unsure when will she see him. As the housewives get away with the fly, she would also get done with the summer.
In the second stanza, the Lady is seen here, managing and passing away the time. She tries to please herself by considering months rather than a year. She says that she will count the months, and wrap them as a ball of yarn and keep it separately, to go through it one by one. She wants to keep the balls separately because she fears keeping them together will elongate the time period. She is uncertain yet she wants to comfort herself. We can assume the absence of her lover has been dreadful for the speaker and just in anticipation to meet her lover, she keeps herself from falling back into sadness.
In the third stanza, she is trying to be flexible with the timing, when she says “if only centuries delayed,” she adds that it is easy for her to pass a century if that is the time required to meet her lover. She is a patient lady but the uncertainty of her lover’s return is making her restless. She says that she will count the years in her hand, and live by each till she forgets the years she has passed. The reference to Van Dieman’s land is to a far off place, now called Tasmania.
In the fourth stanza, she shows her dedication for her lover and says that if they are destined to meet in the afterlife, she can happily die to meet him. The speaker says that she doesn’t care if life is a barrier for them, she doesn’t need a life without him. The speaker’s tone consists of hope, but she also knows she can only comfort herself because there lies an uncertainty in meeting him.
In stanza fifth, the readers are faced with the actual truth, when she admits that the uncertainty is worse than the pain caused by the sting of a bee. She feels the length of time to be “ignorant.” Something, that cannot be matched or just passed off. She feels herself losing hope.
Tone of If You were coming in the Fall-
The poem revolves around a mind who is yearning to meet someone. The speaker doesn’t want the lasting time to wear away her love, so she just wants to take away the duration which is coming as a barrier. The speaker is anxious about the uncertainty caused between those two. The lady wishes to take her life and pass into “eternity” if that means she will get to finally meet him. This poem is a sentiment of love in a long-distance relationship. The relationship between the poetess and the visitor is unknown but her inclination towards the visitor is quite evident. The tone of the poem shows eagerness in meeting with someone who lives far away, from the poetess.
Conclusion- The poem is a desirable wish to meet her loved ones as soon as possible. The poetess writes to pass through eternity and wants to wind the months in a ball. She also wants to skip the seasons anticipating his return. The poet is however, always unsure about the return of her lover.