At last – to be identified!
At last – the Lamps upon your side –
The rest of Life – to see –
Past Midnight – Past the Morning Star –
Past Sunrise – Ah, What leagues there were –
Between Our Feet – and Day!
- F172 (1860) 174
As if to be alive on earth were to be in the darkness, Dickinson writes here of the “Day” of heaven. In heaven our true selves will be known – we will be “identified.” We will see more clearly too, for the “Lamps” to shine upon the eternal world and truth will be available. We can see “The rest of Life” as opposed to just the day-to-day life here on our little planet.
But to get there one must travel past Midnight, the Morning Star, and even Sunrise. All of those images are of night, but she is writing of Day. She is meaning death, of course. In the time between death and some sort of awakening (she is not a consistent believer in bodily resurrection) lies an incredible distance. Another way of looking at the distance is to think of the physical feet that are an important part of our earthly bodies and of a spiritual Day. Quite a space separate them!
The poem is written in a sort of breathless haste as though the poet has had a vision. It also seems as if she is tired of the limited truth we can know while still in our bodies. And so the idea of death is the idea of discovery.