by Wallace Stevens
Let’s face it: this poem isn’t really a fair representation of Christian ideas. The Christian perspective in the poem is serious and pretty joyless. It’s probably more accurate to say that the poem describes a certain kind of Christianity, which focuses on the ideas of guilt and sacrifice, and ignores the sunnier things in life.
- Title: For many people, Sunday mornings carry an obligation to wake up bright and early for church. The title helps us make sense of the protagonist’s feelings of guilt in the first stanza.
- Lines 5-15: Notice that many of the sections of the poem which deal with Christianity include words like "hush," "silent," and "without sound." The poet seems to think that the idea of Christian sacrifice calls for quiet, serious thoughts. The protagonist’s thoughts lead her to the extended simile that "the day is like wide water," which she is supposed to "cross" to get to Palestine, where Jesus was buried.
- Lines 76-82: We can’t be sure what "paradise" refers to, but it’s a word that is most often used in connection with Christianity. The poet imagines paradise as a place where things never change, which he explains using the metaphor of fruit that never falls from a tree. He’s not too happy about this idea.
- Lines 107-109: The woman has an epiphany, or a sudden burst of understanding, when she hears a voice from out of nowhere (which probably means from inside her head). She comes to realize that the Christ’s tomb in Palestine is not a supernatural place after all, but just a place of burial.