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01 July 2011

She slept beneath a tree—

She slept beneath a tree—
Remembered but by me.
I touched her Cradle mute—
She recognized the foot—
Put on her carmine suit
And see!
                                                      - F 15 (1858)


Ah, a puzzle poem. Let's go: sleeping beneath a tree? a corpse or a dormant plant. Remembered but by me? Okay, someone / something noticed very little by others. I touched her Cradle mute? Maybe a coffin for a baby? Or a bulb--a bulb is like a cradle for a lily or tulip. She recognized the foot? That's Dickinsonian invention, this innate conversation between Emily and the natural world--or is it that the baby recognizes the foot. Put on her carmine suit? Well, not the baby, then. A red-flowered bulb. 
Beautiful red tulips in spring
     I'm betting on a tulip. And so the simple little poem is a sketch of spring when the tulip dresses in red. The rhyme scheme couldn't be simpler: A A B B B A. I particularly like the slant rhymes of 'mute,' 'foot,' and 'suit.'

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