This is the Land the Sunset Washes

Have you ever read any of Emily Dickinson’s nature poetry? I love how Dickinson unites vivid imagery, striking personification, and economy of words, and how she captures the beauty and wonder of the world. Just look at these wonderful sunrise and sunset poems.


I ’LL tell you how the sun rose,—

A ribbon at a time.

The steeples swam in amethyst,

The news like squirrels ran.


The hills untied their bonnets,

The bobolinks begun.

Then I said softly to myself,

“That must have been the sun!”


But how he set, I know not.

There seemed a purple stile

Which little yellow boys and girls

Were climbing all the while


Till when they reached the other side,

A dominie in gray

Put gently up the evening bars,

And led the flock away.



BLAZING in gold and quenching in purple,

Leaping like leopards to the sky,

Then at the feet of the old horizon

Laying her spotted face, to die;


Stooping as low as the kitchen window,

Touching the roof and tinting the barn,

Kissing her bonnet to the meadow,—

And the juggler of day is gone!



THIS is the land the sunset washes,

These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;

Where it rose, or whither it rushes,

These are the western mystery!


Night after night her purple traffic

Strews the landing with opal bales;

Merchantmen poise upon horizons,

Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.


5 thoughts on “This is the Land the Sunset Washes

  1. Beautiful! I haven’t read her enough, for sure. Although I did memorize “I’m a Nobody” for school- but truth be told, I chose it because it was the shortest one in the book : /
    It’s a nature poem too, now that I think of it:
    “… how public like a frog, to tell one’s name the live-long June, to an admiring bog!”

  2. these are so lovely…thank you for sharing! i have been sorely missing the ocean, living in the desert, but the one thing that we do get are the most amazing sunsets. the way that she couched her description of the sunset in ocean-terms resonated with me in the happiest of ways. ‘this is the land the sunset washes…’ beautiful. i go now to dig out my little book of emily dickinson poems. =]

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