LET down the bars, O Death!
The tired flocks come in
Whose bleating ceases to repeat,
Whose wandering is done.
Thine is the stillest night,~Emily Dickinson
Thine the securest fold;
Too near thou art for seeking thee,
Too tender to be told.
One of the things I’ve learned so far over the course of this year is that there are many iterations of Peak Emily. There’s the delighting-in-birds Emily. The angsty unrequited-love Emily. There’s the seemingly less well-known meta-Emily who thinks about the nature of thinking.
But always, always, there is in-love-with-death Emily. “Because I could not stop for death” has got to be the most famous of this iteration, but this poem is definitely in that vein. In this poem, however, death is not lover but shepherd. The Biblical allusion is clear. Dickinson paints a portrait of death that is at once restful and divine–Death here is essentially God himself.
As October poems go, this one is a bit of an odd choice, but it does have to do with death, and there is something admittedly creepy about anyone who seems happy about the idea that death is “too near…for seeking.”