Feet enter Dickinson’s poems self-referentially, since the words foot and feet denote poetic terms as well as body parts. In poetry, “feet” are the groups of syllables in a line that form a metrical unit. Dickinson’s mention of feet in her poems generally serves the dual task of describing functioning body parts and commenting on poetry itself. Thus, when the speaker of “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” (986) remembers himself a “Barefoot” boy (11), he indirectly alludes to a time when his sense of poetry was not fully formed. Likewise, when the speaker of “After great pain, a formal feeling comes” (341) notes that feet are going around in his head while he is going mad, he points to the fact that his ability to make poetry is compromised.


In Dickinson’s poems, stones represent immutability and finality: unlike flowers or the light of day, stones remain essentially unchanged. The speaker in “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers” (216) imagines the dead lying unaffected by the breezes of nature—and of life. After the speaker chooses her soul in “The Soul selects her own Society—” (303), she shuts her eyes “Like Stone—” (12), firmly closing herself off from sensory perception or society. A stone becomes an object of envy in “How happy is the little Stone” (1510), a poem in which the speaker longs for the rootless independence of a stone bumping along, free from human cares.


Dickinson uses the symbol of birds rather flexibly. In “A Bird came down the Walk” (328), the bird becomes an emblem of the unyielding mystery of nature, while in “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” (254), the bird becomes a personification of hope. Elsewhere, Dickinson links birds to poets, whose job is to sing whether or not people hear. In “Split—the Lark—and you’ll find the Music” (861), Dickinson compares the sounds of birds to the lyrical sounds of poetry; the poem concludes by asking rhetorically whether its listeners now understand the truths produced by both birds and poetry. Like nature, symbolized by the bird, art produces soothing, truthful sounds.