Poems in Review

Weekly poetry highlights and poems from other writers with brief discussion. Use as a springboard for your own writing or art!

Emily Dickinson (83)

Heart, not so heavy as mine
Wending late home –
As it passed my window
Whistled itself a tune –
A careless snatch – a ballad –
A ditty of the street –
Yet to my irritated Ear
An Anodyne so sweet –
It was as if a Bobolink
Sauntering thie way
Carolled, and paused, and carolled –
Then bubbled slow away!
It was as if a chirping brook
Upon a dusty way –
Set bleeding feet to minuets
Without the knowing why!
Tomorrow, night will come again –
Perhaps, weary and sore –
Ah Bugle! By my window
I pray you pass once more.


Emily Dickinson was one of the first poets that influenced me in one of my writing classes when I was younger.  Her personality was something I could connect. Most people with any knowledge of Emily Dickinson would remember the fact that she was a hermit, someone who locked herself in her room and wrote about things she would only see from her window. Well that may be true, she wasn’t a hermit in the true sense. I’m no E.D. expert, but from what I gleaned in my brief study of her life in a class, was that she just didn’t care too much for what society had deemed appropriate of her.  She was opinionated and private. She only wanted to surround herself with things that she loved and with people she felt comfortable with. In comparison to this day and age, she is no different than a “home-body” a “introvert”. And besides connecting with her on that level, her poetry not only can be read at face value, but it can also be analyzed to mean so much more. E.D. poetry was where I learned that what I read from a poem may differ from what someone else may get from it. Her poetry always led to great discussions.

This poem, (83), at face value can be about a bird that she heard pass by her window. She writes of how it sounds and it would in all aspects be a uplifting poem about nature and her splendid glories. Yet, its E.D.’s word choices that root the poem in a more deeper and maybe darker place, a place that I much like to dwell. Things are a lot more profound down here. It gets you to think beyond what is in front of you. Lets take some examples:

Heart, not so heavy as mine
The opening line sets the tone immediately. The use of “heart” and “heavy” in the same line conveys there is a pain being experienced.
The next line continues with the word choice of “late”. It’s being conveyed that perhaps the setting isn’t the middle of the day with the sun at it’s brightest, but in the evening lending to a more solemn bit of poetry.

Yet to my irritated Ear
A nuance that is in most of E.D.’s poetry it the use of spacing, punctuation, her famous “-” and the use of capitalized words. Each of these grammar techniques creates emphasis, either in pauses or affect. Her capitalizing the word “ear” would indicate that she isn’t merely talking about her physical body part, but more in relation to the ear of her soul. Her inner being or self.  She also uses “irritated” which obviously conveys distress. Like the first opening lines, her word choices show that she is in inner turmoil and the music of a bird has spoken to her. Just as when we are feeling blue, there is nothing like a good sad song to really get your existential muse going.

Set bleeding feet to minuets
This line is amazing and it may be the most profound line in the whole poem. The discussion alone on this singular piece of writing could encompasses a lengthy discussion on what exactly it means. And even how its read! Is it “minutes” such as time or “minuets” as a piece ofmusic/dance? By looking at the rest of the poem, she references a “ballad”, “tune” and “carolled”, so at face value it would be the music reference
to the use of “minuets”. Which in that case alone, it would still make it a profound statement followed by the next line “Without the knowing why!”
But ,what if its the other use of “minuets”? The one in relation to time. Followed by the next line in the poem, it is on par as a powerful statement and maybe one that’s more relatable. How often do we think of our lives as passing time? We must get here. We must go there. We have to have this done then. When is this going to happen. Everyday we do things in accordance to the passing hours in the day. We look to the future, we look
to the past, which are both in relation to time. We set bleeding feet to passing minutes without knowing why we are doing so.

…weary and sore –
The end of the poem wraps up with wondering if this bird will pass by her window tomorrow, which by the way she emphasizes with italics. Another indication of time. And another indication that she is struggling with something that tomorrow is a lofty prospect. Perhaps what she is dealing with inside will persist the next day. Or maybe by the use of “weary and sore” she will overcome it by tomorrow and when she
does hear the bird’s sweet and inspiring music she will be able to hear it a little differently than with a heavy heart.


Click on the link below to head over the the Poetry Foundation, where you can read a more in depth analysis of Emily Dickinson’s life and samples of her poetry:

Emily Dickinson




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