Saturday, July 12, 2014

Emily Dickinson, a poem


Through lane it lay -- through bramble --
Through clearing and through wood --
Banditti often passed us
Upon 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 --

That satyr's fingers beckoned --
The valley murmured "Come" --
These were the mates --
This was the road
These children fluttered home. 

-- Emily Dickinson --
from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
edited by Thomas H. Jackson

Lucky children .  .  . or so I think, and perhaps Emily Dickinson thinks the same. 


  1. Yes, but who or what are "these children"? Another one of the thousands of the poet's enigmas.

  2. RT,

    First stanza, third line "Banditti often passed us." That suggests she includes herself among these children. Are the children really those who never "grew up"?

    "These were the mates --"

  3. I remain puzzled . . . But so it goes with my readings of her work.

  4. RT,

    As do I . . . Sometimes I can guess, but I'm never sure.

    1. With Dickinson, I can never be certain about whether or not she knew when she was being enigmatic, which is another way of saying Dickinson's so-called enigmatic genius as a poet might often be the accidental creations of a slightly disordered personality. Then, when you start combining her biography (e.g., those years of seclusion, dressing only in white, and random fascicles hidden in closets) with her poetry, the puzzles become even more dense (and they do not necessarily signal genius but something else less flattering). Perhaps she was a bit like William Blake; Wordsworth said of him -- he is mad but he is a genius.

  5. RT,

    Perhaps both she and her poetry are a puzzle. We only have hints from others and her poetry as clues to what she was like. I suspect that she will always be enigmatic, so I concentrate on her poetry and get what I can out of that..