A summer love song

I envy seas whereon he rides,
I envy spokes of wheels
Of chariots that him convey,
I envy speechless hills

That gaze upon his journey;
How easy all can see
What is forbidden utterly
As heaven, unto me!

I envy nests of sparrows
That dot his distant eaves,
The wealthy fly upon his pane,
The happy, happy leaves

That just abroad his window
Have summer’s leave to be,
The earrings of Pizarro
Could not obtain for me.

I envy light that wakes him,
And bells that boldly ring
To tell him it is noon abroad,—
Myself his noon could bring,

Yet interdict my blossom
And abrogate my bee,
Lest noon in everlasting night
Drop Gabriel and me.

~Emily Dickinson

Though it’s not a sonnet by any stretch, that’s what this poem reminds me of most–a plaintive love song wherein the speaker envies anything and everything in proximity to the beloved. It’s evocative of Romeo’s wish to be a glove upon Juliet’s hand that he might touch her cheek. Dickinson’s speaker wishes to be the sea beneath the beloved’s ship, the wheels of his carriage, the hills he passes, the nests under his eaves, the fly on his window, the leaves of nearby trees. Even the wealth of Pizarro, in the form of earrings, couldn’t buy her the delights these things enjoy in being close to her beloved.

As in a sonnet, there’s a shift toward the end of this poem, beginning with the telling Yet. In the final stanza, she asks that her blossom be prohibited, her bee done away with (presumably these are forms she might take in order to be close to him, and of course they carry their own romantic/sexual imagery). The “noon” she longs for, the fully developed connection to her beloved, might drop her into “everlasting night,” and that would be worse than her current longing.

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