Safe in their alabaster chambers –
Untouched by morning –
And untouched by noon –
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection,
Rafter of satin, and roof of stone.
Grand go the years,
in the crescent above them –
Worlds scoop their Arcs –
And firmaments – row –
Diadems – drop –
And Doges – surrender –
Soundless as dots
On a disk of snow.
- F124 (1859) 216
At first the alabaster tombs sound rather nice: in them the dead sleep safely under a “Rafter of satin” as they wait for “the Resurrection.” Yet Dickinson undermines any positive construction. The sleepers are “Untouched by morning” – a symbol of resurrection and rebirth. They are likewise “untouched by noon” – the fullness of the day. Note that these positive denotations of morning and noon are chosen by the poet rather than some gloomy term such as “storm” or “night.” We also see that the sleepers are “meek” rather than “worthy” or “saintly” or some such more positive term for future denizens of heaven. And while the rafter may be satin, the roof is of stone. There is an utter barricade between the “members of the Resurrection” and the real world outside. The word “Safe” that introduces the poem begins to seem ironic. The world is where the good action is. The tomb is where you... well, where you just stay in a box underground with no windows. "Safe" deosn't sound so hot.
I think that last simile refers to a field of snow dotted by rain, perhaps, or falling leaves and other flotsom. Helen Vendler in her book of essays on selected Dickinson poems has this to say about the final quatrain where the poet likens the death of monarchs and rulers to dots on snow:
Dickinson binds together her sequences of deaths by interwoven alliteration (first “d” for Death, then “s,” perhaps for cessation) to emphasize their inevitability: “Diadems drop …Doges …dots…Disc; surrender…Soundless…sow.” Just as her “d” words – with the exception of “drop” – include “s” (“Diadems,” “Doges,” dots,” “Disc”), her “s” words (except for “snow”) include “d” (“surrender,” Soundless”). The braid of extinction is woven too tight for anyone to escape its grasp.