Friday, August 4, 2017

Emily Dickinson on love (or something else)

First there is this from The Writer's Almanac:

It was a quiet way 
by Emily Dickinson

Listen Online

It was a quiet way—
He asked if I was his—
1 made no answer of the Tongue
But answer of the Eyes—
And then He bore me on
Before this mortal noise
With swiftness, as of Chariots
And distance, as of Wheels.
This World did drop away
As Acres from the feet
Of one that leaneth from Balloon
Upon an Ether street.
The Gulf behind was not,
The Continents were new—
Eternity it was before
Eternity was due.
No Seasons were to us—
It was not Night nor Morn—
But Sunrise stopped upon the place
And fastened it in Dawn.

"It was a quiet way" by Emily Dickinson. Public domain.


And there is this personal postscript:

I am baffled, but that often happens when I read poems by Emily Dickinson. Is this a love poem? Or is it something else? What do you think?


  1. Interesting question, Tim. It may, indeed, be a love poem. I also see it as a poem about love, where she explores what it's like to be lost in those emotions, as lovers often are.

    1. But, Margot, could it be a poem about religious faith?

    2. It certainly could, Tim. That's not in the least how I saw it, but that doesn't mean that wasn't Dickinson's intent.

  2. ED's work has often suggested escape, i think... or if not escape, broad travel of one sort or another... seemingly the search for a larger vista... i don't think she's referring to a romantic episode here, but a swooping woosh into the higher realms of imagination, which may very well include some sort of religious ecstasy...

    1. Fair enough, Mudpuddle, but who is "He" in the poem? Swooping woosh = He?

  3. John Donne and others wrote love poems using religious imagery and also religious poems using profane love imagery. This poem could be read either way. Take your pick as to the way you see it.

    1. Well, Fred, I cannot pick either way. Damn!

    2. R.T.--perhaps there's a third way?

    3. Damn! A third way? Hmmmm.