Below, you’ll find part of an analysis of “The Wind – tapped like a tired Man” 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.


LINK TO THE FULL POEM

STORY/SUMMARY

Stanza 1: The wind – tapped like a tired man – on the door of my house – and like a host, I boldly told it to “Come in” – then it entered the inside of my home. 

Stanza 2: A fast – footless Guest – it was as impossible to offer him a chair to sit on as if I had offered a sofa to the air itself. 

Stanza 3: He had no bones to contain his spirit – his speech sounded like the push of a load of hummingbirds speaking at once, from an important bush – 

Stanza 4: His facial expression – was just a billow – his fingers as he passed by played music – that sounded like tunes made by blowing through trembling glass – 

Stanza 5: He visited me – still dashing about here and there – then like a shy man again, he tapped and asked to be let out – it was flurriedly that he rushed out – and I became alone – 

SPEAKER/VOICE


The poem is quite whimsical and humorous, in that it uses an extended metaphor of the wind being like an invited guest into the house, who is there to keep the speaker company for a period of time. We could interpret this sentiment as representative of Dickinson’s wish to be in tune with the natural world, treating elements of nature as though they were conscious and sentient. It arguably represents her desire to understand and be closely in touch with the way in which nature works. Alternatively, we could also read the wind as being like a spirit or ghost – an entity that enters her house after being invited communes with her for a period of time, and then leaves as quickly and immaterially as it came.

CONTEXT

Though the reasons are unclear, Dickinson underwent a process of withdrawing from society in the early 1860s and spent almost all of her mature life at her family home in Amherst. Critics often believe that Dickinson suffered an extreme shock or loss of someone close to her which caused her to change in behaviour and precipitated her withdrawal from society, as well as a creative outburst of poetry as she attempted to understand what had happened to her on a deeper level. Later in life, Dickinson earned the nickname “The Myth” because so many townsfolk in Amherst had heard of her, but never met her personally because she was so disconnected from life in the town. She did however uphold communication with the outside world through letters, often messaging people that she respected and admired with her poems and her thoughts on the world. She accepted many visitors to her home but was reluctant to travel or venture outside of her familial boundaries. 

She had several marriage proposals, but rejected them all – the shock or loss that caused her to become removed from her local community may, critics speculate, have been the loss of a potential husband or suitor. 


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.

For all our English Literature and Language courses, click here.