As Watchers Hang Upon The East, Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

"AS WATCHERS HANG UPON THE EAST" by Emily Dickinson contemplates the sense of anticipation and fulfillment experienced by those who eagerly await a significant event or experience. The poem captures the emotions of watchers awaiting the sunrise and beggars reveling in a feast, using vivid imagery and metaphors. Through these comparisons, Dickinson conveys the idea that heaven provides a sense of rejuvenation and delight, akin to the joy experienced by watchers and beggars.


As Watchers hang upon the East,
As Beggars revel at a feast
By savory Fancy spread —
As brooks in deserts babble sweet
On ear too far for the delight,
Heaven beguiles the tired.
As that same watcher, when the East
Opens the lid of Amethyst
And lets the morning go —
That Beggar, when an honored Guest,
Those thirsty lips to flagons pressed,
Heaven to us, if true.


"AS WATCHERS HANG UPON THE EAST" explores the themes of anticipation, fulfillment, and rejuvenation through vivid imagery and metaphors. The poem likens the experiences of watchers eagerly awaiting the sunrise and beggars reveling in a feast to the rejuvenating and delightful influence of heaven. By drawing parallels between these human experiences and the concept of heaven, the poem suggests that heaven offers a sense of fulfillment and joy to those who believe in its existence.

Critical Analysis

The poem begins by comparing watchers who eagerly anticipate the sunrise in the east to beggars who revel in a feast. The phrase "savory Fancy spread" evokes the idea of a rich and delightful spread, while "brooks in deserts babble sweet" suggests that even in arid landscapes, nature provides moments of sweetness and delight. This comparison emphasizes the anticipation and delight experienced by both watchers and beggars.

The second stanza describes heaven as beguiling the tired, suggesting that it offers a sense of renewal and rejuvenation. The imagery of heaven captivating or charming the "tired" evokes the idea that heaven provides solace and relief from weariness.

In the third stanza, the poem likens the act of opening the lid of the amethyst-colored East to a watcher anticipating the dawn. This metaphor captures the sense of awe and wonder experienced by those who witness the morning's arrival.

The final lines of the poem compare heaven to an honored guest attending a feast. The act of pressing "thirsty lips to flagons" suggests a moment of satisfaction and fulfillment. The poem concludes with the idea that heaven, if true, provides a similar sense of fulfillment and joy to those who believe in its existence.


  • Anticipation and Fulfillment: The poem explores the themes of anticipation and fulfillment by likening the experiences of watchers, beggars, and believers in heaven. The imagery underscores the idea that waiting for and experiencing something significant brings joy and fulfillment.
  • Heaven and Rejuvenation: The poem suggests that heaven provides a sense of renewal, rejuvenation, and delight akin to the experiences of watchers and beggars.
  • Human Experience and the Divine: By drawing parallels between human experiences (watching, waiting, reveling) and the concept of heaven, the poem explores the intersection between the earthly and the divine.


  • Anticipation: The poem conveys a sense of anticipation and excitement experienced by watchers and beggars, which is compared to the anticipation of experiencing heaven.
  • Fulfillment: The poem suggests that heaven brings a sense of fulfillment and joy, similar to the satisfaction of watchers witnessing the sunrise or beggars enjoying a feast.

Literary Devices

  • Metaphor: The poem employs metaphors to draw comparisons between human experiences (watchers, beggars) and the concept of heaven, enhancing the depth of meaning.
  • Imagery: The poem uses vivid imagery to evoke sensory and emotional responses, painting a vivid picture of the experiences of watchers, beggars, and believers in heaven.

Discussion Question

How does Dickinson's use of metaphors and vivid imagery contribute to the exploration of anticipation, fulfillment, and the concept of heaven in the poem? How does the poem engage with the intersection between human experiences and the divine?

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