Friday, November 21, 2008

Emily Dickinson for Friday

As the temperatures plummet in the New York area (and rather quickly - it was only last Saturday that I was walking to the laundromat in sixty-degree weather, wearing a t-shirt), I have had my favorite bit of Emily Dickinson set like a thick rug under my thoughts this week:

This is the Hour of Lead--
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow--
First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--

It's the third and final stanza of a poem of hers called "After great pain, a formal feeling comes." I'm not dealing with any great pain right now, but I think we probably spend a lot of time fumbling with the pieces of our lives, frustrated that we can't control everything. In the midst of this, I have always apprecaited the sentiment that there are some pieces that aren't going to fit, and some questions in our lives to which there are no answers. In recognizing this, we establish a connection that wasn't there a second ago, which is always the point, anyway.

Postscript: the last bit of that poem serves as the inspirition for the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy record The Letting Go, which I can't recommend enough. The perfect record to accompany a mug of something warm on a quiet winter evening. In fact, I just figured out what I'm going to do tonight.

4 comments:

Sarah Miller said...

Wasn't this also part of the title of an Anne Morrow Lindbergh memoir -- the one that dealt with their son's kidnapping?

Andrea -- Just One More Book!! Podcast said...

Beautiful. Thank you.
We were in Amherst last weekend and drove past Emily's house. Our children were THRILLED just to see the house (feeling very close to it thanks to the lovely picture book, Emily ) but, alas, time didn't permit us to stop. So close and yet so far. We'll have to go back some day soon.

Brenda Bowen said...

There's a Zibby Oneal book called "A Formal Feeling." And the letters of Ann Lindberg are called "Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead."

Don't you love the way the word "recollect" sounds in this stanza?

I have yet to visit Emily Dickinson's house, though I so couldn't bear the thought of its being burned down that I stopped reading "Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes of New England" about 25 pages in.

beth said...

I love Emily Dickinson! Thanks for posting her.