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05 September 2011

Sexton! My Master's sleeping here.

Sexton! My Master's sleeping here.
Pray lead me to his bed!
I came to build the Bird's nest,
And sow the Early seed—

That when the snow creeps slowly
From off his chamber door—
Daisies point the way there—
And the Troubadour.
                                                - F 75  (1859)  96 
Dickinson has several poems depicting the grave as a cosy home. In F 41 for example, “I often passed the village,” the grave occupant is waiting to enfold a living person in her loving embrace. In this poem the poet’s Master is ‘sleeping’ in his chamber. There is snow on the ground but that doesn’t disturb his sleep. The poet, as befits a student, wants to honor her Master by planting spring flowers and enticing a bird to lay eggs and sing its joyous spring song.. When spring does come the cosy ‘chamber’ will be colorful and cheered by birdsong.
            Spring with its returning flowers and newly hatched birds represents resurrection. And birds, as mentioned earlier, represent the soul. So Dickinson is also symbolically helping the soul on its journey.
            Dickinson’s first ‘Master’ was a young headmaster who died in his twenties. Perhaps she paid a visit to his cemetery and that’s why she needed directions from the Sexton.

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