The Mountains—grow unnoticed—
Their Purple figures rise
In Their Eternal Faces
The Sun—with just delight
Looks long—and last—and golden—
For fellowship—at night—
“The Mountains—grow unnoticed —” was discovered and numbered in 1926 in the 34th fascicle and was first published in The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson in 1929 by Little Brown. Dickinson lived across from the Pelham Hills in Amherst, Massachusetts, which were most likely the great “Purple figures” that rise and grow without recognition.
The mountains do not require the attention or acknowledgment of others. The use of the word “Purple” suggests a similar growth of man. Unlike a person, the mountains do not require the recognition that is usually correlated with personal achievement. Individuals tend to require recognition for their deeds, while the mountains’ “Purple figures rise / Without attempt—Exhaustion— / Assistance—or Applause—.” The term eternal, meaning to last or exist forever without an end or beginning, is directly related to the color purple and the concept of the infinite consciousness.
The poem calls attention to the mountains, which can be misleading because the mountains do not require attention. It brings in the power of the sun and its relationship to the mountains whose “eternal faces” in turn become illuminated. “The Sun—with just delight / Looks long— and last—and golden— / For fellowship—at night—.” The relationship between the sun and the mountains is opposite of the conventional. Instead of bringing life to the mountains, they themselves create and sustain the friendship which the sun seeks fellowship within.
Bibliography and Further Reading Neeru Tandon, Thematic Patterns of Emily Dickinson’s Poetry (2008); “The Publication Question,” Emily Dickinson Museum.
Credits Composed by Shane Merritt, Spring 2017.