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21 June 2011

Summer for thee, grant I may be

Summer for thee, grant I may be
When Summer days are flown!
Thy music still, when Whipporwill
And Oriole—are done!

For thee to bloom, I'll skip the tomb
And row my blossoms o'er!
Pray gather me—
Anemone—
Thy flower—forevermore! 
                                                                  - F 7 (1858)


Here Dickinson personifies herself as the humble, hardy, and early-blooming anemone. She wants to be her loved one's summer in winter, his music when birds are gone. This is like the delight brought by anemones--colorful flowers that bloom when all else might still lie under snow, and all the more valuable because of it.
The lovely anemone
uprooted.jessicareeder.com
     But the second stanza puts a slightly darker tint to the poem: here it seems the loved one is dead and so the blossoms must be rowed over--the anemone delivers herself to that far shore rather than depositing them graveside. 
     The poem emphasizes eternal life: the loved one is no longer dependent on the seasons for blossoms and bird song, and his him/herself ready to 'bloom' in paradise. The anemone itself, harbinger of spring, represents a triumph over death. This powerful image is what Dickinson wants to take for herself--to be the anemone, a forever flower. I read somewhere that Dickinson liked the 'humble' flowers such as anemone, but here the anemone is glorious and brave.
     Written in hymn stanzas—quatrains in alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter—Dickinson uses several internal rhymes to give the poem a song-like quality:
  - thee / be
  - still / whipporwill
  - bloom / tomb
  - row / o'er
  - me / anemone
       My favorite part of this poem is the phrase "row my blossoms o'er."  It delivers a beautiful visual while at the same time indicating the love Dickinson bears for the poem's subject.

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