Across the Border Poem by Sophie Jewett Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


The poem “Across the Border” was written by Sophie Jewett. The poem talks about a fairyland. The poem was first published in the her collection of poems named “The Poems of Sophie Jewett” in 1910. It was the final collection of poetry published after her death.

About the Poet:

Sophie Jewett American lyric poet, translator, and professor at Wellesley College. She wrote under the pseudonym Ellen Burroughs. Mostly she prefers writing lyric poems. Jewett initially published poetry under the pseudonym Ellen Burroughs. It was borrowed from her mother’s name. Her first book published under her own name was “The Pilgrim, and Other Poems (1896)”. Jewett also. wrote in various poetic forms like the sonnet, and the ballad.

Title Significance:

The title of the poem “Across the Border” signifies the speaker’s journey from the normal world to fauryland. So, the speaker has crossed the border line to reach the fairy land.


The poem “Across the Border” consists of a epigraph taken  from W.B. Yeats “The White Birds” and four quatrains or stanzas having four lines each. Thus it has 16 lines in total.


The poetess Jewett has composed this poem using ballad meter. It is a meter that both iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.

Point of View:

The poem “Across the Border” written from the first person point of view. The speaker describes the fairyland. In the third stanza, the poet has used the first person pronoun “I”.

I followed two swift silver wings;

   I stalked a roving song;

I startled shining, silent things;

   I wandered all day long.

Poem Analysis:


 I have read somewhere that the birds of fairyland

 are white as snow. — W. B. Yeats

The epigraph of “Across the Border” was taken from Yeats love lyric named “The White Birds”. Yeats talks about an island where there are white birds that flies on the foam of the sea. In “The White Birds” the poet wants to be like a white bird along with his beloved to fly over the sea. The poetess Sophie Jewett has alluded this line to give a hind to the readers that the poem is about a fairly land that has white birds.

Stanza 1:

Lines 1-4:

Where all the trees bear golden flowers,

   And all the birds are white;

Where fairy folk in dancing hours

   Burn stars for candlelight;

The speaker of the poem directly jumps in describing the environment in the fairy land. The speaker says that in the fairy lands all the trees bears golden flowers unlike the trees in the earth. The land is filled with only white birds. In this land, the fairies enjoy their live happily by dancing. At night time, the burn stars instead of candle. Unlike the life in earth, where people light candles during night, fairies use stars to get light. 

Stanza 2:

Lines 5-8:

Where every wind and leaf can talk,

   But no man understand

Save one whose child-feet chanced to walk

   Green paths of fairyland;

The speaker continues with the description about the fairy land. She says, that the wind and leaf in the fairy land has the ability to talk. But it could be understood by only people living in the fairy land. The language they are using is unlike the language of earth. The speaker specifically mentions that oy an child can understand this language. Being a pure and innocent soul they get the chance to visit this fairy land. Here, “Green paths” is a symbol of path to fairy land. Every child will receive this path during their innocent age.

Stanza 3:

Lines 9-12:

I followed two swift silver wings;

   I stalked a roving song;

I startled shining, silent things;

   I wandered all day long.

The speaker in this stanza talks about how she entered in this fairy land. The speaker followed two swift silver wings. Here “wings” denotes the white bird. She started followed a song that was sung by the folks from the fairy land. So, she entered into the fairyland, and couldn’t take off her eyes from the stunning beauty of the fairyland. She started to view the shining things silently. She wandered all day long to admire the surrounding.

Stanza 4:

Lines 13-16:

But when it seemed the shadowy hours

   Whispered of soft-foot night,

I crept home to sweet common flowers,

   Brown birds, and candlelight.

In the last stanza, the speaker describes about how she returned to the normal world. The speaker could feel that the shadow hours are nearing. She could listen to the whisper of night. The term “soft foot” refers to the coming of night. So, she was taken back to her normal world. Everything changed around her. Now, she saw normal flowers, candle lights and brown birds. Here time got over in the fairyland and she was back to the normal world at the end.