Wild Nights and Wildest Dreams: Emily Dickinson vs Taylor Swift

Wild Nights by Emily Dickinson is one of her most famous poems, depicting a night of passion, told by a person in love directly to their lover. In this poem, the speaker wants to stay with their lover forever. They can be wild because they know they have someone to come back to. Dickinson uses an extended metaphor of a boat to convey this theme. In this metaphor, the speaker is the sailor and their lover is the harbor. Her quick repetition and use of exclamation points show the intensity that she wants the reader to feel and dramatize the events of the night. She describes “Futile – the Winds” compared to “a Heart in port,” indicating that nothing can stop them from being together. Ultimately, Dickinson ends the poem with the lines “Might I but moor – Tonight – / In Thee!” Here, the speaker is illustrating their desire to be with their lover and “dock” or stay in the harbor forever. Wild Nights is a groundbreaking poem in the traditionally strict and patriarchal 1800s.

Fast forward a century and a half later, Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift has risen to the top of the charts. This song depicts a relationship with a seemingly perfect man who she has quickly fallen for, but knows is going to end soon. Throughout the song, Swift expresses her wish for her lover to remember her through poetic, multidimensional language. She repeats this sentiment often in the chorus:

“Say you’ll remember me

Standing in a nice dress 

Staring at the sunset, babe 

Red lips and rosy cheeks

Say you’ll see me again

Even if it’s just in your wildest dreams, ah-ah, ha

Wildest dreams, ah-ah, ha”

She is forced to contemplate the inevitable end of her relationship, but doesn’t fully accept it. She continues to wish that her lover will always think of her, even if never again in real life. Her request to her lover to never forget her is asked in an idealized way. She wants their relationship to be romanticized, saying that he should remember her dressed nice, beautiful, and in the setting of a sunset. Swift goes on to say in the next stanza:

“You’ll see me in hindsight

Tangled up with you all night

Burning it down

Someday when you leave me

I bet these memories

Follow you around”

Again, Swift hopes that her lover will remember her. Overall, the song is bittersweet, talking both about the joy of their relationship, and the difficulty in letting go. She is conflicted in that she knows that they both have to move on, but still wants to remain connected. The title demonstrates that this dream is not realistic, no matter how much Swift wishes it was. 

Both of these poems, one in the traditional sense and the other not, showcase the wild nature of love felt by two similarly independent women. They describe the passion that they feel for their lovers, however the speaker in Dickinson’s poem hopes to be reunited with their lover, while Swift knows that is not possible, viewing the relationship more in the past. Despite these differences, one thing is clear: Wild Nights and Wildest Dreams are both poetry.

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