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15 September 2011

This heart that broke so long—

This heart that broke so long—
These feet that never flagged—
This faith that watched for star in vain,
Give gently to the dead—

Hound cannot overtake the Hare
That fluttered panting, here,
Nor any schoolboy rob the nest
Tenderness builded there.
                                                - F 83 (1859)

Like F 81, this poem paints a dreary and pathetic picture of a dead woman. It feels like a practice piece, as if Dickinson had tired of reading cheesy funeral poems and thought, “I can knock one of these out in half the time and it would be twice as good.” Nonetheless, it isn’t interesting reading. We have a broken-hearted but hard-working person of great faith. Alas, the faith was ‘in vain’ as the hoped-for star (some hoped-for event? The Second Coming?) never came. However, for all the deprivations and disappointments, at least the deathbed experience was free from harm. The Hound couldn’t hurt the little fluttering and panting hare there, nor could nasty little boys cause any harm.
            The poem is written in standard hymn form: 4-line stanzas of alternating tetrameter and trimeter Fairly loose slant rhymes are used: “flagged” / “Dead”; “here” / “there”. 

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