Like Her the Saints Retire, Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

In "Like Her the Saints Retire" by Emily Dickinson, the poet contemplates the departure of saints and their resemblance to natural phenomena such as evening colors and flowers. Through vivid imagery and delicate language, the poem explores the idea of the saints' transition from the earthly realm to the spiritual realm. The comparison between the saints and nature evokes a sense of beauty, mystery, and transcendence.

Like Her the Saints Retire

Like her the Saints retire,
In their Chapeaux of fire,
Martial as she!
Like her the Evenings steal
Purple and Cochineal
After the Day!
"Departed" — both — they say!
i.e. gathered away,
Not found,
Argues the Aster still —
Reasons the Daffodil


"Like Her the Saints Retire" contemplates the similarity between the departure of saints and natural phenomena. The poem draws parallels between the saints' departure and the fading colors of evening and the withering of flowers. The term "Departed" is explored, suggesting that both the saints and natural elements are gathered away from their original state. The poem reflects on the enduring presence of the natural world and the profound reasons behind their transformation.

Critical Analysis

"Like Her the Saints Retire" explores themes of departure, transition, and transformation through the comparison of saints and natural elements.

The poem's opening lines compare the saints' departure to a "Chapeaux of fire," portraying their departure as a powerful and fiery event.

The analogy between the saints and the evening colors (Purple and Cochineal) highlights their graceful and gentle withdrawal from the earthly realm.

The term "Departed" suggests a transition from the physical to the spiritual, evoking the idea of the saints being gathered away.

The poem contemplates the concept of the saints being "Not found," implying their ethereal nature and the challenge of comprehending their presence.

The references to the Aster and Daffodil underscore the natural world's resilience and endurance even after their transformation or departure.

The poem invites readers to consider the profound reasons behind the transformation of natural elements and the departure of the saints, encouraging a deeper reflection on the mysteries of life and transition.


  • Departure and Transition: The poem explores the departure and transition of both saints and natural phenomena, highlighting the mystery and beauty of these processes.
  • Enduring Presence: The analogy with nature suggests that despite departure or transformation, an enduring presence remains.
  • Transformation and Mystery: The poem raises questions about the reasons behind transformation and departure, emphasizing their profound and mysterious nature.


  • Transcendence: The comparison between saints and natural phenomena evokes a sense of spiritual transcendence and beauty.
  • Wonder and Reflection: The poem's contemplative tone encourages readers to wonder about the reasons behind departure and reflect on the mysteries of transformation.


  • Imagery: Vivid imagery of evening colors, flowers, and departure creates a visual and emotional impact.
  • Symbolism: The use of natural elements symbolizes the cycle of life, transformation, and the enduring presence of the departed.

Join the discussion below to share your thoughts on the comparison between the departure of saints and natural phenomena. How does this poem resonate with your understanding of departure, transformation, and the enduring presence of what has departed?

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