Perspective

IT makes no difference abroad,
The seasons fit the same,
The mornings blossom into noons,
And split their pods of flame.


Wild-flowers kindle in the woods,
The brooks brag all the day;
No blackbird bates his jargoning
For passing Calvary.


Auto-da-fé and judgment
Are nothing to the bee;
His separation from his rose
To him seems misery.

~Emily Dickinson

I had to look up “auto-da-fé,” and wow. Basically, it’s an allusion to the Inquisition. You can read a definition here.

That one word crystallizes the meaning of the poem. Dickinson is comparing the eternal cycles of nature to the most extreme that humanity has to offer–Calvary, the Inquisition–and concluding that really, none of that human stuff matters to nature. Our doings, which seem so momentous to us, are nothing to nature. Our beliefs, religions, dogmas, don’t matter beyond ourselves.

On one hand, it’s a terrifying thought–everything we get so riled up about doesn’t really matter in the end, or at least doesn’t matter beyond ourselves. On the other hand, it’s comforting–perhaps a little bit of much-needed perspective. The world will go on without us.

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