Odd secrets of the line

Just lost when I was saved!
Just felt the world go by!
Just girt me for the onset with eternity,
When breath blew back,
And on the other side
I heard recede the disappointed tide!

Therefore, as one returned, I feel,
Odd secrets of the line to tell!
Some sailor, skirting foreign shores,
Some pale reporter from the awful doors
Before the seal!

Next time, to stay!
Next time, the things to see
By ear unheard,
Unscrutinized by eye.

Next time, to tarry,
While the ages steal,–
Slow tramp the centuries,
And the cycles wheel.

~Emily Dickinson

The phrase “Odd secrets of the line” has snared my imagination. It reminds me of these lyrics, so today’s post is a conversation between two poems. I’ll put them both here and let them talk it out.

Heaven’s a bar down by the dock
Where the liquor is free they keeps a great stock
There’s always a place, always a smile
For a sailor come home from sea
Girls they are beauties they dance and they sing
They treat an old tar like a lord or a king
Heaven’s a bar down by the dock
Where there’s liquor for all and it’s free

Heaven’s a bar down by the dock
Where the liquor is free they keeps a great stock
There’s always a place, always a smile
For a sailor come home from sea

There in the snug drinking with me Shipmates return from the seven salt seas Tarry tailed tars, gold buckles shoes
The cream and the dregs of the crew.
Just sailors on shore with a dream in their eyes
Who saw the world’s end where the sea meets the sky
Vision remains, wonders recalled By the trinkets that hang on the walls

Late in the night clouds hurry past
The moon winks and goes, the doors are barred fast
The charts are laid out, the contraband found The crossbones laid out on the ground
The figurehead does it she never gets tired She beckons a breeze from her berth by the fire
Songs roll around, waves hit the bar
Til the bottles wash up on the shore

~”Heaven’s a bar,” via Warham Whalers

Definitely not my favorite

SO bashful when I spied her,
So pretty, so ashamed!
So hidden in her leaflets,
Lest anybody find;

So breathless till I passed her, 5
So helpless when I turned
And bore her, struggling, blushing,
Her simple haunts beyond!

For whom I robbed the dingle,
For whom betrayed the dell, 10
Many will doubtless ask me,
But I shall never tell!

~Emily Dickinson

I’ve been sitting here staring at this poem, trying to think of something nice to say about it, but it’s the end of a long day and I am all up in my feelings about consent. So I’m going to heed one of my mom’s favorite old sayings: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Truth?

The reticent volcano keeps
His never slumbering plan;
Confided are his projects pink
To no precarious man.


If nature will not tell the tale
Jehovah told to her,
Can human nature not survive
Without a listener?


Admonished by her buckled lips
Let every babbler be.
The only secret people keep
Is Immortality.

~emily dickinson

I love the idea of a volcano with pink projects. I wonder, though–is Dickinson right? Is it really not in human nature to keep secrets? My first reaction is yes, absolutely. We can’t keep secrets.

But then I think of all the secrets that we do keep. Yes, we often blab when we shouldn’t–but then, too often we remain silent when the truth would be a saving grace.

Maybe it’s not that we can’t keep secrets, but that we’re not good at knowing which ones to tell and which to keep…