delight // pain

Delight becomes pictorial
When viewed through pain,—
More fair, because impossible
That any gain.

The mountain at a given distance
In amber lies;
Approached, the amber flits a little,—
And that ’s the skies!

~Emily Dickinson
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I don’t know how much I have to add to this. It’s so true! When we’re suffering, all the good times appear “pictorial.” All the possible connotations fit. Something that is pictorial is not only lovely, but also unreal–a picture, after all, is not the real thing. In times of pain, delight seems not only lovely, but impossibly so.

The second stanza elaborates. When we’re at a certain distance from happiness, mired in the morass of our own misery, that happiness is tinged with different colors–colors that the real thing doesn’t possess. This poem is a tightly-constructed and well-thought-out mini-meditation on the nature of suffering and what it does to our experience of happiness.