‘Wild Nights’ is very enchanting because of the imagination it provokes within the reader. At the same time it raises our questions towards what complexities lay in the nights. There are many interpretations of ‘Wild Nights’ and they differ with moods. This is the beauty of this poem. Miller (1968) states that critics have not realized the actual potential of the poem by emphasizing the eroticism it provokes. They should have been focusing more on the witty use of “strands of navigation metaphors” of the poem. Emily saw the “Sea” of the last line as synonymous with a “wild roadstead,” a place where ships are moored in safety outside a harbor.
The poem is a brilliant work of synonyms and contrasts. The most obvious contrast of the poem is between a port that suggests safety and the sea that gives the notions of darkness, winds and danger. The words ‘port’ and ‘sea’ might have been representing two different persons with differing hearts. Emily herself states the narrator of the poem is the one whose heart is a port and the heart of her lover is the sea. She wants to go to her lover. The secured heart of the port has no need of compass and chart whereas the heart represented by sea is the one that represents danger and ecstasy. The time of the desire by the narrator is the night. This gives a boost to the word ecstasy and gives way to many fantasies.
The poem starts with an exclamation of joy and happiness that one gets when one is with someone special. This is what the speaker is doing by expressing the arrival of the night as ‘Wild night’. It is also to be noted that this is not just one night by the word is used in its plural form i.e. ‘nights’. This shows that there are so many such nights or one can take them all as representing some seasonal duration. These nights are termed as the luxuries to the speaker who entirely basked happily into the duration of this wild season of joy and happiness.
Emily further states that she has arrived in the port or her heart is secure now upon coming of the wild nights. I believe she wants to say that she has got what she wanted or the love of her lover. And now she is no more in need of anything to show her to her destination. She has arrived at her destination of her lover like a ship arrives at a port. Nothing can disturb her now neither the winds nor any other thing. She has used what she wanted to use to reach her lover and now she has done with all these devices or ways and needs them no more as she has no intentions of any other such desires.
Now in the last stanza, she has reached and met her lover and is looking forward to sailing into the world of pleasure. The speaker has expressed a desire to moor in “Thee,” which some might connote with the process of making love which when involved in does not require and compass or chart and is the area of winds and movement. “Thee” here is representing the beloved. This is the most erotic and ecstatic part of the poem. The speaker wishes to moor or make love into the sea or into the beloved for the length of the nights. The sigh ‘Ah’ is representing the utterance one makes when in extreme joyous situation. The speaker desires something at once impossible and possible. Ships do not moor at sea, unless, of course, they are under command of an extravagant adventurer who delights in the paradox of mooring where it is impossible to do so. And this is what the speaker wants to achieve.
The poem is a very bold one. The most noticeable thing in the poem is its intensity of longing and desire as the speaker moves from a general wish for wild nights to an intensely desired, specific night as if reaching a climax.