2It sifts from Leaden Sieves By Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) It sifts from Leaden Sieves — It powders all the Wood. It fills with Alabaster Wool The Wrinkles of the Road — It makes an Even Face Of Mountain, and of Plain — Unbroken Forehead from the East Unto the East again — It reaches to the Fence — It wraps it Rail by Rail Till it is lost in Fleeces —
3It deals Celestial Vail To Stump, and Stack - and Stem — A Summer’s empty Room — Acres of Joints, where Harvests were, Recordless, but for them — It Ruffles Wrists of Posts As Ankles of a Queen — Then stills its Artisans — like Ghosts — Denying they have been —
5It sifts from Leaden Sieves — It powders all the Wood. It is unidentified. What is “it”? Our guess for now is (snow).Metaphor: clouds that produce the snow are likened to leaden sieves. Snowfall is likened to sifting.
6PersonificationSnow is given human characteristics in this poem: it sifts and powders and changes, though temporarily, the face of the earth.
7LeadenDefinition of leaden in Oxford Dictionary adjective 1- Dull, heavy, or slow: his eyelids were leaden with sleep 2- Of the colour of lead: dull grey:a leaden sky
8Snow is also likened to a powder: just like powder it is extra soft and can spread over things.
14Alabaster and woolAn oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory.“Alabaster Wool” seem contradictory, since one is a hard, heavy substance, while the other is soft and fluff.
15Another contradiction Snow is likened to wool, even though snow is cold, while wool is used in garments to maintain warmth.
16MetaphorThe land is resembled to a face: “wrinkles”, “face”, “forehead”. Even the words alabaster comes in collocation with the word (skin), as in (alabaster skin).
17Metaphor: Death?Winter season comes after fall. In autumn, the earth loses its beauty with leaves of trees turning yellowish and falling. Trees are bare of leaves and fruits – with harvest-.Can these line mean that after the “death” of the earth in fall, the sky –like a sister- shrouds earth in white – as in covering corpses?
18Another metaphor: rejuvenation? Nature wears a white suit of snow during winter. If by connotation of whiteness of snow, earth is an old woman, then the powdering process is to hide the earth’s decadent features. Winter becomes the first stage of the earth’s rejuvenation.
19It makes an Even Face Of Mountain, and of Plain — Unbroken Forehead from the East Unto the East again — Comment: All the landmarks of the earth now are even and equal against the power of snow. East is emphasized as a point for the beginning of the snow cover: Is it because the east is connected to sunrise? The beginning of the day? All in all, winter is the first stage of transformation of nature back to youth.
20An extended metaphorThe poem carries an extended metaphor of snow and fabric. Can you find the clues?
21It reaches to the Fence — It wraps it Rail by Rail Till it is lost in Fleeces — The snow works very attentively efficiently in covering the rails.