How the old mountains drip with sunset,
And the brake of dun!
How the hemlocks are tipped in tinsel
By the wizard sun!
How the old steeples hand the scarlet,
Till the ball is full,—
Have I the lip of the flamingo
That I dare to tell?
Then, how the fire ebbs like billows,
Touching all the grass
With a departing, sapphire feature,
As if a duchess pass!
How a small dusk crawls on the village
Till the houses blot;
And the odd flambeaux no men carry
Glimmer on the spot!
Now it is night in nest and kennel,
And where was the wood,
Just a dome of abyss is nodding
These are the visions baffled Guido;
Titian never told;
Domenichino dropped the pencil,
Powerless to unfold.
This is a gorgeous poem, and I don’t want to belabor it with my clumsy explanation–just to point out some of my favorite bits. The “wizard sun” is a beautifully evocative phrase, as is “the odd flambeaux no men carry.” Dickinson manages to paint a picture of a moment which is at once thoroughly, specifically Earthly and yet supernatural. Sunset is a liminal space, the melting of day into night. It is both and yet neither, and this poem captures its many shades well.