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17 July 2011

All these my banners be.

All these my banners be.
I sow – pageantry
In May—
It rises train by train—
Then sleeps in state again—
My chancel—all the plain
Today.
                                               - F 29 (1858)


Ah gardens. Banners of the seasons and the cycles. What's interesting here is the gravity with which Dickinson addresses her garden. What she sows is pageantry, and it rises in trains such as those billowing behind the bride or queen. And in keeping with royal pageantry, during the winter it 'sleeps in state'. There is no season of loss or death. Winter is but another banner, coequal with spring and summer. 
     In keeping with some of her other poems, Dickinson maintains that the stately and annual progression of her garden is her church. The added dimension is that unlike the traditional Christian arc of birth, death, resurrection, Dickinson is drawing on the cycles of annual rebirth here on earth. 
     As a lovely contrast with the cycles, she emphasizes the eternal Now by rhyming two dimeter lines: "In May–" with the ending line, "Today". The gravity of the poem is reinforced by the spondees that begin the poem: "All these", and "I sow–pag..eantry".
     Count me in as a member of the Dickinson church!

3 comments:

  1. I really appreciate your thoughts on Ms D. It is good to ‘talk over’ her poems. Thanks!

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  2. R W Franklin looked at the manuscript (Fascicle 1, Sheet 4) and saw three separate poems. Thomas H. Johnson, looking at the same page, saw one. It's number 22 in his edition.

    All these my banners be.
    I sow my pageantry
    In May—
    It rises train by train—
    Then sleeps in state again—
    My chancel—all the plain
    Today.

    To lose—if one can find again—
    To miss—if one shall meet—
    The Burglar cannot rob—then—
    The Broker cannot cheat.
    So build the hillocks gaily
    Thou little spade of mine
    Leaving nooks for Daisy
    And for Columbine—
    You and I the secret
    Of the Crocus know—
    Let us chant it softly—
    "There is no more snow!"

    To him who keeps an Orchis' heart—
    The swamps are pink with June.

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    Replies
    1. thank you for that, Greg! I can see it both ways: 3 poems or one poem.

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