Analysis of “I Never Saw a Moor” Poem by Emily Dickinson

Sketch of a Moor

In this article, we will take a look at the literal meaning of “I Never Saw a Moor” written by Emily Dickinson and then discuss the figurative, metaphorical language used in the writing. You can also read the poem at the bottom of the page.


The first stanza of “I Never Saw a Moor” states the speaker hasn’t traveled often but still has an idea of what the places look like.

She hasn’t seen a moor nor the sea but she knows what a heather looks like and she understands what a wave is.

The second stanza says she didn’t talk with God and hasn’t been to heaven but she knows where heaven is and how to get there.


Essentially, Dickinson is stating that just because she hasn’t experienced something personally doesn’t mean she doesn’t understand or comprehend it.

The second stanza is a restatement of her previous argument in hopes the reader can identify more closely with her.

This poem is written using iambs except in lines 7 and 9 (counting the line break).

Lines 2 and 4 of each stanza have end rhymes.

Figurative Language & Meaning

There’s no exact figurative language other than the author using metaphors throughout the poem. She is using a moor as a metaphor for things she hasn’t seen and God as something most people (at least during the poem’s writing) believe in even though they have no proof he/she/it exists.

Poem: “I Never Saw a Moor” by Emily Dickinson

I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.

Reader’s Reaction

I’m normally not much of an Emily Dickinson fan, but “I Never Saw a Moor” speaks to me. It’s easily quotable, relatable, and quite meaningful. It feels like something I can quote whenever someone says, “You don’t know what it’s like!”

There would be no bigger satisfaction. I can’t even begin to count how many times someone has said such a thing to me even over this past year, even at my age.

Can’t get enough of Emily Dickinson? Check out her poem“I died for Beauty, but was scarce”.

Gary R. Hess

Gary was born and raised on a small farm in rural Kansas. Today, he is teaching various nationalities English in Southeast Asia. Get his newest poetry eBook here.

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