On the occasion of Emily Dickinson’s birthday, let’s have a poem I find fitting for this blog:
This World Is Not Conclusion
this world is not conclusion
a species stands beyond –
invisible, as music –
but positive as sound –
it beckons, and it baffles
philosophy – don’t know –
and through a riddle, at the last –
sagacity must go –
to guess it, puzzles scholars –
to gain it, men have borne
contempt of generations
and crucifixion, shown –
faith slips – and laughs, and rallies –
blushes, if any see –
plucks at a twig of evidence –
and asks a vane, the way –
much gesture, from the pulpit –
strong hallelujahs roll –
narcotics cannot still the tooth
that nibbles at the soul –
Thanks for this Julia! You are right, it is perfect for this blog. She had many more like this, poems that laid open her questions about her received religion, especially (if I remember correctly) the later poems.
I’m going to resist the urge to pull our my Dickinson books and quote you a poem back, because if I pull the book out I will be totally distracted from the things I am currently reading…Dickinson can really take you down the rabbit hole.
I do plan to return to her, not just to the poems, but I recently ran into an associate of hers, a man named T. H. Higginson, who functioned as a sort of “mentor” (via the mail) to young Dickinson. I remember reading some of their charming correspondence. But I recently discovered Higginson was far more than a magazine editor. Turns out, he was a radical abolitionist, knew Emerson, Thoreau, and Fredrick Douglass, and was involved with John Brown’s raid in Virginia. Anyway, I would like to find out if Emily was aware of Higginson’s other activities, and to what level she was aware of abolitionism in general. Her father kept her very sheltered.
If anyone likes to read old letters, Dickinson’s letters as a young woman are just wonderful. She was so bright and excited about life, you can nearly sense her wiggling with nervous energy as she writes. Well, once again I have written more than I intended!