Sunday, January 17, 2016

Emily Dickinson: a winter poem

Like Brooms of Steel
The Snow and Wind
Had swept the Winter Street--
The House was hooked
The Sun sent out
Faint Deputies of Heat--
Where rode the Bird
The Silence tied
His ample-plodding Steed
The Apple in the Cellar sang
Was all the one that played.
 -- Emily Dickinson --
Poem No. 1252
from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Edited by Thomas H. Johnson

Lean and spare, as are all of Emily Dickinson's poems.  Having lived in Chicago, I know what those "Brooms of Steel" are like.  The winds cut through anything one can wear, and only four walls can keep them out, mostly.  And, even on a sunny, windless day, the sun's heat is barely noticeable.  And the silence .  .  .


  1. Fortunately I have never had to suffer those Brooms of Steel, Fred. I have been for around a week or so in negative twenty degrees with snow on the ground. And thank goodness for the snow. Need I say that all the water pipes were frozen and we had to melt the snow for water.

    1. madamevauquer,

      Twenty degrees below zero is experience enough of winter. One of the reasons I left Chicago was to get away from the winter. The heat here in Tucson is not much fun, but I'm glad I'm here when I check out the Chicago weather reports during the winter.

  2. Since she lived in Amherst (and I lived in Pittsburgh, and you lived in Chicago, although I am glad that I didn't live in 19th century New England conditions), the three of us understand how the brooms sweeps the winter streets; there is the strange paradox that the death of winter also brings a cold swept cleaning necessary to the entry of spring. Southerners, I think, would not quite understand Dickinson's poem. Thanks, Fred, for posting a well-timed Dickinson poem. My winter is, I hope, receding and spring is waiting just around the corner, even as Beyond Eastrod has emerged from a winter darkness and has been returned to its renewed roots.

    1. R.T.,

      That's what always kept me going during the Chicago winters--the thought that spring was getting closer each day.