I Hate Waiting

Emily Dickinson House

I don’t know about you, but I associate Emily Dickinson with poems about death. Whenever I pick up a poem of hers to read, I assume that’s what it’s going to be about (Apr 5’s poem notwithstanding). Today’s poem might also be about death, but more obliquely, at least, if at all. I think it’s sweet and insightful, and accessible to boot. Maybe I like it so much because it’s so easy for me to relate to it. Enjoy!

QOTD: Share a time when you had to wait a long while to get something you really wanted. Do you share Dickinson’s view on having a deadline to look forward to while you wait?

511
by Emily Dickinson

If you were coming in the Fall,
I’d brush the summer by
With half a smile, and half a spurn,
As Housewives do, a Fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls–
And put them each in separate Drawers,
For fear the numbers fuse–

If only by Centuries, delayed,
I’d count them on my Hand,
Subtracting, till my fingers dropped
Into Van Dieman’s Land.

If certain, when this life was out–
That yours and mine, should be
I’d toss it yonder, like a Rind,
And take Eternity–

But, now, uncertain of the length
Of this, that is between,
It goads me, like the Goblin Bee–
That will not state– its sting.

[Here are some other thoughts I have about this poem. 1. Emily Dickinson reminds me of my mother, who was a great fan of poetry, particularly the English Romantics and American Transcendentalists. She had a gray cloth-bound collection of Dickinson’s poetry on one of our bookshelves when I was growing up. It was a plain book, but it appealed to me because it was a useful size for stacking things, holding things, and using as a hard surface when I needed something to write or color on. My mother has always had an innate feel for the music and appeal of poetry. I have been a slow learner. 2. I don’t know what Dickinson has against Van Diemen’s Land, aka Tasmania, but it’s entirely possible that she knows more about the place than I do, and also that Tasmania has changed since 1862, when this poem was written. 3. Do you see how she uses the word “yonder” in line 15? “Yonder” was used repeatedly in the closing lines of yesterday’s poem. I like little coincidences like that. 4. There is no such thing as a Goblin Bee, at least so far as I can tell. Personally, I think “goblin” is used as an adjective, like “purple” or “evil,” though it does sound as though a Goblin Bee is a specific monster we should all know about. I blame Harry Potter for our collective misreading.]

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