Emily’s confidence as a poet is remarkable as she place the “Poets” higher up her list than “the Heaven of God.” Yet, like Milton, isn’t the poet truly the one responsible for giving us heaven? We know heaven, hell, and Eden so well because the “Poets” have illuminated them for us, therefore we would not know how to “reckon” our way to them without the poet’s “Sun” as guide star.
Emily also seems to be expressing her doubts about “The Others” who could be those people who do not see true beauty in nature, that only think of the “Sun” and the heavens as a “needless Show” that God will destroy one day, as if all of creation is merely a waiting room for something to come later. Emily might be referring to preachers who place no value on the natural world as if there were nothing to gain for our spirits by enjoying the beauty all around us.
Yet isn’t the poet the greatest of all preachers? If God did create the universe, then won’t we more clearly see the path to “Grace” from the shining light of the poet’s “Sun” which hangs high in a year-long “Summer” sky? There are no cold and faithless nights in this poem, all of creation is illuminated whenever we read it, and so when we feel furthest from “Grace” one need only to read the poem again to be assured that ‘the Further Heaven” and all its glory does await each of us.
The most interesting image in the poem is that of ‘The East”. Though the sun rises from this direction she seems to be saying that “The Others” are the residents of that land where the “Sun” has yet to rise, that they live in the darkness of a society who does not value the poet, a race of pre-dawn creatures who “would deem extravagant” the year-round sun of the poet’s “Summer”. Emily believes that only the poet can raise the sun just as the prisoner who returns to Plato’s cave can illuminate the shadowy world of those who have never known such a light. In other words, the poet gives meaning to the world, otherwise the “Sun” and all the heavens are little more than physical objects. The “Dream”, then, is more real than when we are awake, a theme she has explores is “What I see not, I better see“, and to be awake is to be guided by a light not nearly bright enough to lead us to “Grace”.