Category Archives: Thomas Moran

Good Morning – Midnight

Under the Trees, 1865, Thomas Moran
Background Image: Under the Trees, 1865, Thomas Moran

This is the sort of poem people have in mind when they think of Emily. Someone has died, even though they didn’t want to (who does?) and so they ask to be admitted to heaven. Her use of morning as a play on mourning is typical of her love of opposites where the morning gives life but also takes it away. Yet the final image of a “little Girl” being turned away is quite sad and reminds me of a continuation of”Taken from men — this morning“.

Her use of “please take a little Girl” is worth considering because she might not be referring to the speaker of the poem. In the first stanza she writes that the narrator was not “tired” of the “Day”; it was “tired of Me” and so she is “coming home”. The narrator is dying, but hasn’t made the journey quite yet. We get the image of a beautiful landscape where the “East is Red” as if she is flying over the forest towards heaven in the “East”. And as she makes this journey she is frightened a little, she says the “Midnight” she is heading towards is “not so fair” as “Day” and that she chooses “Day” (living) over “Midnight” (death).

Thus, when she writes that the speaker asks to “please take a little Girl”, there is a real sense of longing and sadness in having to leave the “Day”. In fact the poem is even a little frightening in that we know the “Day” will not have her back and so she must make a journey she is unwilling to partake of. This opens up the possibility that she is referring not just to death, but to the position of women in the world where youthful innocence is taken from them through marriage and that “Home” is the husband’s “Home” and not the “Home” she grew up in. The mourning of “morning” as the new bride travels through the landscape to her new “Home” is expressed in the fears of the “little girl” who has been taken from her “Home” to a new life.