I find this one perplexing. In the first stanza, the speaker tells us that for every happiness, there must be an equal sorrow, and perhaps this is true. But in the second stanza, she shifts her argument to the extreme. Now she’s arguing that for each happy hour, we pay for it for years in bitterness and tears.
What is she doing here? I really don’t know quite what to make of this one. What do you think?
Today’s post is going to be a footnote of sorts. I love this poem, and there are all kinds of things to say about it, but I think it also speaks for itself, so I’m going to have fun getting into the weeds a bit instead.
I fell down a rabbit-hole with this one. First I had to Google “Himmaleh.” Turns out it’s Himalaya, but closer to the Sanskrit word. This word is actually two words combined, and they mean “winter house,” which is completely lovely. The Himalayas could very well be winter’s home base.
Then, of course, I had to look up the true name of Mount Everest. It annoys me when people rename places that don’t belong to them, and “Mount Everest” is a prime example. It is decidedly not a “Mount Everest.” Its name is Sagarmatha, which means “Peak of Heaven” and is a vastly preferable and more evocative name.
I think about this kind of thing often–how we call places by the names some white explorer gave them, and not by their true names. I’ve often wondered why we can’t just call countries what the people living in them call them. What is it, this need to rename things in our own image? Does it make them more understandable? More accessible? More easy to fit in a box? Why is Deutschland “Allemagne” in French and “Germany” in English?
Why can’t we just call things by their names? I like that in this poem, Dickinson uses “Himmaleh.”
I am firmly in the Emily Dickinson camp on this issue–anticipation is better than actuality. The maddest joy comes not in the moment of realizing a happiness, but in the hope for it. What do you think?