46 Before the ice is in the pools

 

Before the ice is in the pools –
Before the skaters go,
Or any cheek at nightfall
Is tarnished by the snow –

Before the fields have finished –
Before the Christmas tree,
Wonder opon wonder –
Will arrive to me!

What we touch the hems of
On a summer’s day –
What is only walking
Just a bridge away –

That which sings so – speaks so –
When there’s no one here –
Will the frock I wept in
Answer me to wear?

[Emily Dickinson]

Written late 1858 and bound into fascicle 2.

Ah, Nature. Summer. Time. What a thrill it is to be alive!

Love and Namaste –

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44 The guest is gold and crimson

 

The Guest is gold and crimson –
An Opal guest, and gray –
Of ermine is his doublet –
His Capuchin gay –

He reaches town at nightfall –
He stops at every door –
Who looks for him at morning –
I pray him too – explore
The Lark’s pure territory –
Or the Lapwing’s shore!

[Emily Dickinson]

Written in late 1858 and bound into Fascicle 2.

Lapwing – a bird native to the American Northeast.

Love and namaste –

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43 Through lane it lay – thro’ bramble

 

Through lane it lay – thro’ bramble –
Through clearing and thro’ wood –
Banditti often paassed us
Opon the lonely road.

The wolf came peering curious –
The Owl looked puzzled down –
The serpent’s satin figure
Glid stealthily along,

The tempests touched our garments –
The lightning’s poinards gleamed –
Fierce from the Crag above us
The hungry Vulture screamed –

The Satyrs fingers beckoned –
The Valley murmured “Come” –
These were the mates –
This was the road
These Children fluttered home.

[Emily Dickinson]

Written late 1858 and copied into Fascicle 2.

This reminds me of another book I’ve been chewing on – The Pilgrim’s Progress. The Path is not easy, but it is beautiful, Light filled, and ultimately worthwhile; redemptive and sure. Life is filled with trials, but the joy is that much sweeter for them.

Banditti – plural of bandit! I never knew.
Poinards [or poniards] – daggers.
Satyrs – mythological creatures associated with Dionysius, i.e. constantly drunk and roaming the forest in search of a good time.

I read this as an encouragement. Yes, she’s acknowledging the trials that come in life, but it still ends with the children fluttering home. Fluttering. Lightly, sweetly, ease-fully. Let’s flutter.

Peace and Namaste –

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42 There is a word

 

There is a word
Which bears a sword
Can pierce an armed man –
It hurls it’s barbed syllables
And is mute again –
But where it fell
The saved will tell
On patriotic day,
Some epauletted Brother
Gave his breath away.

Wherever runs ts the breathless sun –
Wherever roams the day,
There is it’s noiseless onset –
There is it’s victory!
Behold the keenest marksman!
The most accomplished shot!
Time’s sublimest target
Is a soul “forgot”!

[Emily Dickinson]

Written late 1858, bound into Fascicle 2.

Damn. She winds this up so well and packs that punch at the end. At first you think it could be joyful, maybe it’s not bad – the terms victory and all those exclamation marks had me starting to smile as I read it. But then, then she pulls it all out from under you. To be forgotten. Is this really the worst possible thing? Whether you agree with her or not, this begs the question: forgotten by whom? Loved ones? Future generations? God? Hmm.

Peace and Love and Namaste –

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41 I often passed the village

 

I often passed the Village
When going home from school –
And wondered what they did there –
And why it was so still –

I did not know the year then,
In which my call would come –
Earlier, by the Dial,
Than the rest have gone.

It’s still than the sundown.
It’s cooler than the dawn –
The Daisies dare to come here –
And birds can flutter down –

So when you are tired –
Or – perplexed – or cold –
Trust the loving promise
Underneath the mould,
Cry “it’s I,” “take Dollie,”
And I will enfold!

[Emily Dickinson]

Written autumn 1858, bound into Fascicle 3 the following year.

Dollie was a nickname for Emily’s dear friend, Susan.

Peace, Love, & Namaste –

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40 I hav’nt told my garden yet

I hav’nt told my garden yet –
Lest that should conquer me.
I hav’nt quite the strength now
To break it to the Bee –

I will not name it in the street
For shops w’d stare at me –
That one so shy -so ignorant
Should have the face to die.

The hillsides must not know it –
Where I have rambled so –
Nor tell the loving forests
The day that I shall go –

Nor lisp it at the table –
Nor heedless by the way
Hint that within the Riddle
One will walk today –

[Emily Dickinson]

We made it to 40! In many more than 40 days, I know, but really I don’t mind if this takes the next ten years of my life. I’ll be reading her poetry forever, and I can only post when it feels right.

This one was written in autumn 1858, in Fascicle 3. Interesting that she seems especially sensitive about death here, not quite at peace with it, not strong enough to let people know it’s coming.

Love, peace, and namaste –

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Anxiety and T.S. Eliot

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma percioche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
               So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
               And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
               And should I then presume?
               And how should I begin?
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
               Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
               That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
               “That is not it at all,
               That is not what I meant, at all.”
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
[T. S. Eliot]

 

Remember reading this in high school? Or maybe dozing off when it was discussed in the obligatory poetry unit? I know, so much doesn’t stick. Hopefully my reading plumbs the depths of its emotion a bit further than your high school self was able to.

Reading this first in middle school, then high school, then again in college, I’m fairly familiar. It’s grown on me with each reading, and now it lurks in the corners of my mind, and lines from it come to me when I need them. Today – “there will be time”.

Sometimes I sit completely still, my mind racing with thoughts of all I want to accomplish in a given day. I’m wasting time by contemplating just how little I have. This gets my heart racing, plants me firmly in my head instead of my body or the present moment, and brings on anxiety.

But there will be time. Life is long, and yes, I want to write a dozen essays and edit 20 pages of my novel and write three emails and meditate and run and do yoga and cook dinner and draw a picture and finish reading War & Peace today, but goodness gracious, TAKE A BREATH. Whatever your list of to-dos looks like, trust. Breathe. Know that there is time and there will be time. And the best way you can use it is to be here. Now. And do one thing, fully, at a time.

What helps you relax? How do you ease your mind on a busy day?

Love and namaste –

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39 I never lost as much but twice

 

I never lost as much but twice –
And that was in the sod.
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels – twice descending
Reimbursed my store –
Burglar! Banker – Father!
I am poor once more!

[Emily Dickinson]

Oh, the levels, the soul, the depth of feeling! She has expressed the ineffable confluence of emotion that is grief.

Love and namaste –

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38 I never told the buried gold

 

I never told the buried gold
Opon the hill that lies –
I saw the sun, his plunder done –
Crouch low to guard his prize –

He stood as near
As stood you here –
A pace had been between –
Did but a snake bisect the brake
My life had forfeit been.

That was a wondrous booty.
I hope ’twas honest gained –
Those were the fairest ingots
That ever kissed the spade.

Whether to keep the secret –
Whether to reveal –
Whether while I ponder
Kidd may sudden sail –

Could a shrewd advise me
We might e’en divide –
Should a shrewd betray me –
“Atropos” decide –

[Emily Dickinson]

Atropos – Greek: without turn. One of the three Fates – goddesses of destiny. The oldest of the three, Atropos was known to be inflexible. She chooses the mechanism of death and snips the thread of life with her “abhorred shears.”

Written autumn 1858 and bound into Fascicle 3. This one seems light and airy at first, but wow. I read it aloud last night and am writing it out today, and it has grown to be a meditation on childhood and adulthood, on the fracturing that can happen to our joy, on the trauma that can intrude on our lives and steal away our treasure. Damn, girl! I love this. I hope you do, too.

Namaste –

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37 By chivalries as tiny

 

By Chivalries as tiny,
A Blossom, or a Book,
The seeds of smiles are planted –
Which blossom in the dark.

[Emily Dickinson]

Written in the fall of 1858 and bound into Fascicle 3. I copied this one down and had it hanging it my apartment for a while – it’s a sweet bit of encouragement to be kind. An affirmation that the slightest action does make a difference, even if it doesn’t seem to in the moment. A reminder that people remember how you make them feel over what your wearing or how your hair looks.

As Annie sang in the musical I watched as a kid – “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!”

Namaste –