This is one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson. I love the short stanzas, including the dash as her favorite punctuation mark, but the meaning, as so often, is cryptic. She can admittedly be ironic, morbid, witty, dark, and a bit saucy. I was intrigued by the concept of 19th-century girl talk, and “identified myself” with the “We” of the poem. Oh, this is light Emily, I thought gratefully – but then she mentions “the Grave” in the third line – And then all the dashes disappear in the last stanza, which seems very dark.
I will post a short, very slightly more serious piece on her poetry soon. I must think and compose myself first. Meanwhile, enjoy!
We talked as Girls do – (392)
We talked as Girls do—
Fond, and late—
We speculated fair, on every subject, but the Grave—
Of ours, none affair—
We handled Destinies, as cool—
And God, a Quiet Party
To our Authority—
But fondest, dwelt upon Ourself
As we eventual—be—
When Girls to Women, softly raised
We parted with a contract
To cherish, and to write
But Heaven made both, impossible
Before another night.
I am spending much of my leisure with Emily Dickinson this month. I am a constant reader of Latin poetry, but when I get into the American or English poetry-reading mood, I become obsessed with a single author. I enjoy Emily’s company exceedingly, and lines of her poetry pop into my mind at the oddest moments. What does she mean by this exactly, I wonder while staring at the broccoli at the grocery store. Quite often the line is about a bee. Emily is so bright, arcane, and witty that she sometimes stings–like one of her famous bees!
Here are two of Dickinson’s poems about fame, one of them with her favorite insect–a bee!
Fame is a bee.
Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.
Fame is a fickle food.
Fame is a fickle food
Upon a shifting plate
Whose table once a
Guest but not
The second time is set
Whose crumbs the crows inspect
And with ironic caw
Flap past it to the
Men eat of it and die
Happy National Poetry Month! Pop off the cork and enjoy the metaphorical champagne. Here are two of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson. More to come.
It’s all I have to bring today – (26)
It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —