Study Guide

There's a certain Slant of light Awe and Amazement

By Emily Dickinson

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Awe and Amazement

We're not talking about the kind of awe and amazement that comes from looking at something really beautiful. In "There's a certain Slant of light," the speaker's amazement comes from the mysteriousness of that slant of light. In fact, even the landscape is amazed by the light and "listens" upon its approach while the shadows "hold their breath." Pretty…uh, amazing, eh?

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. How would you describe the speaker's amazement in the poem that comes from the appearance of that slant of light? What parts of the poem give you your idea?
  2. How does the personification of the landscape reflect the speaker's sense of awe?
  3. Does the speaker's reference to death at the end of the poem contribute to this theme of awe and amazement? How do you know? 
  4. How does the speaker's ambiguity contribute to the sense of amazement we see throughout the poem? Would it have sounded just as amazing if the speaker would have been more specific?

Chew on This

What's particularly amazing about that slant of light is the fact that it's impossible to define in any absolute sort of way. It's amazingly hard to pin down, which makes it somehow even more amazing.

All of those dashes and odd syntax reflect the speaker's difficulty in defining the awe she feels because of that slant of light. Awe-some, eh?

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