in A Level, English Literature, Poetry

Below, you’ll find the poem and part of an analysis of the poem ‘Whose cheek is this?’ by Emily Dickinson.

Includes a breakdown of the stanzas, an insight into the speaker + voice of the poem, and an exploration of the themes and deeper meanings. This is only a quick overview to help you get to grips with the poem; you can access a full in-depth breakdown of the poem below.


Whose cheek is this?

Whose cheek is this?

What rosy face

Has lost a blush today?

I found her—”pleiad”—in the woods

And bore her safe away.

.

Robins, in the tradition

Did cover such with leaves,

But which the cheek—

And which the pall

My scrutiny deceives.

Emily Dickinson


STORY/SUMMARY

Stanza 1: Whose cheek is it that I’m looking at here? What face flushed with colour has now lost its red blush, a sign of life?  I found her in the woods – she looked like a Pleiad – and I carried her safely away. 

Stanza 2: Traditionally, robins cover beings like her with leaves – but what is her cheek, and what is her funeral covering, I can’t quite figure out, even when I examine her closely. 

There’s a certain Slant of light by Emily Dickinson – Poem Analysis

SPEAKER/VOICE

The poem uses a conceit – a complex extended metaphor where the speaker discovers a decaying flower in the woods and likens it to the discovery of a dead girl, covered in leaves. A sense of pathos is evoked at first for the being, but the ending of the poem is more ambiguous, encouraging us to reflect more on the natural cycle of life and death and not necessarily see this as tragic or finite.

THEMES

  • Nature 
  • Death 
  • Decay 
  • Beauty 
  • Innocence 
  • Grief 
  • Loss 

Thanks for reading! If you’re studying this particular poem, you can buy our detailed study guide here. This includes:

  • Vocabulary
  • Story + Summary
  • Speaker + Voice
  • Language Feature Analysis
  • Form and Structure Analysis
  • Context
  • Attitudes + Messages
  • Themes + Deeper Ideas
  • Key Quotations
  • Extra tasks to complete by yourself

If you’re interested in our complete Emily Dickinson course, click here.

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