Friday, September 11, 2009


Emily Dickinson was not a laborer on the surface of things. Her poems are concerned with death and God and eternity. She allowed herself to think and write what other women of her time dared not even whisper:

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.

When she speaks of a volcano here she is speaking not of that mound of earth one sees on the surface, but of what is inside - a hidden secret. The volcano is always cooking his plan hidden in that mound, never revealing his plan of pink eruption (projection), which will happen in his own good time. Certainly this plan is not being revealed to man, who will hear its voice soon enough and loudly enough that there will be no mistaking it. Nature hold's God's truth closely - it is not easily revealed. People could learn from this lesson in silence. The volcano doesn't wear anyone out with its babbling. It only speaks when it is important to speak. The only secret worth speaking of in humankind is the secret of Immortality. Perhaps people should not be too quick to talk it to death.

What else can I say?


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this gloss. That probably is what she meant. I recently read through the selection of her poems in an old anthology (Untermeyer) without understanding much other than that she suffered pain and seemed to enjoy feeling lonely. Trying to crack her code would be to break into her private world, and I don't think she wanted that. I'm going to respect her privacy and not eavesdrop on her conversation with God.


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