Ghost story?

THOUGH I get home how late, how late!
So I get home, ’t will compensate.
Better will be the ecstasy
That they have done expecting me,
When, night descending, dumb and dark,
They hear my unexpected knock.
Transporting must the moment be,
Brewed from decades of agony!

To think just how the fire will burn,
Just how long-cheated eyes will turn To wonder what myself will say,
And what itself will say to me,
Beguiles the centuries of way!

~Emily Dickinson

I *think* this is a ghost story–sort of a surprise ghost story that reveals itself in the last line. The speaker is longing to be home, anticipating the welcome she’ll receive.

In the first stanza, it sounds as though she’s been gone for a long time–“decades of agony.” This is still logistically believable. Maybe she’s been gone a really long time, and will show up when her loved ones are least expecting her arrival, years after they’ve given up on her return.

It’s only in the final line of the poem that we begin to realize what’s really going on here. She’s been absent not just for decades, but for “centuries of way.” Is she talking about arriving in heaven? The little details of the poem seem more homely that what we might expect of paradise–the eyes of her loved ones turning to see her, unexpectedly; the fire burning in the hearth. Because it’s spooky-month, I’m going to read this one as a tiny little ghost story about a lost spirit wandering the universe, striving to get back to those she loved in life.

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