I feel a bit sheepish about saying what I think about Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Sunset at Night — is natural” because I know there are those who will think I’m cracked. 

But, here goes. First, I believe “Master” is a reference to personal identity. You never would have heard Emily Dickinson talk about “finding herself.” But, if she had, she would have said that when she understood enough about her personal relationship to poetry, and what to do with her life, she called this Ideal, “Master.”

Sunset at Night – is natural –
But Sunset on the Dawn
Reverses Nature – Master –
So Midnight’s – due – at Noon –

Eclipses be – predicted
And Science bows them in –
But do One face us suddenly –
Jehovah’s Watch – is wrong –

I think this poem describes what I can use to keep from feeling so odd about a life that has not fit the mold, whatever that is. I think young people, too, can use it to help work through some of the struggles that go with starting life.

To get the right mix, I have to be willing to accept a topsy-turvy condition that determines my vitality, even if it contradicts the norm: “Sunset at Night – is natural -”.  But, in the world of the poem, “But Sunset on the Dawn/Reverses Nature -”. The fact that the speaker in the poem is talking to “- Master – ” means that acceptance of self, one’s True Identity, (no matter the consequences), has already occurred.

In addition to “Master,” the other name for this Ideal Self is “One (who) face us suddenly – ”.  

The rest of the poem sets this sometimes isolated, but ultimately unique person with a good deal of satisfaction, in contrast to conventional expectations.


Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way