’T IS little I could care for pearls
Who own the ample sea;
Or brooches, when the Emperor
With rubies pelteth me;
Or gold, who am the Prince of Mines; ~Emily Dickinson
Or diamonds, when I see
A diadem to fit a dome
Continual crowning me.
Last week I fell prey to an acute upper respiratory infection that landed me in Urgent Care and resulted in two unexpected days of laying in bed. Being sick for a day or two I can handle, but I am really a very horrible patient because I am impatient, and after several days of being sick I have had enough. I hit a low point this afternoon and launched a full-on pity party for myself. Thankfully, this poem is here to remind me to keep things in perspective.
I NEVER saw a moor, ~Emily Dickinson
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.
I never spoke with God, 5
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.
Dickinson is wonderfully confounding. Sometimes I can’t for the life of me figure out what she’s talking about. Other times, it’s crystal clear. This is one of those clear ones. The diction and syntax are simple, almost childlike. This is a poem a young child could understand, and that fits with her theme of faith.
In this poem, the certainty of rhythm, rhyme, and syntax mirrors the certainty of the speaker. Hers is a childlike faith, which the Bible upholds as the exemplar for everyone. It’s a simple poem, but also masterful in its simplicity.
He preached upon “breadth” till it argued him narrow,—
The broad are too broad to define:
And of “truth” until it proclaimed him a liar,—
The truth never flaunted a sign.
Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As gold the pyrites would shun.
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a man!
This one feels timely, and needs no commentary from me.
How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn’t care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.
One sentence. Straightforward rhymes (almost completely). I’m not going to belabor this one–I’ll just leave it here in case you, like me, need the reminder.