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16 October 2011

Glowing is her Bonnet –

Glowing is her Bonnet –
Glowing is her Cheek –
Glowing is her Kirtle –
Yet she cannot speak.

Better as the Daisy
From the Summer hill
Vanish unrecorded
Save by tearful rill—

Save by loving sunrise
Looking for her face.
Save by feet unnumbered
Pausing at the place.
                                             - F 106 (1859)  72

Kirtle and bonnet
This is another poem knocked off in tribute to a dead woman. I wonder how many of them Dickinson wrote! This woman looks alive. Three repetitions of the word “Glowing” emphasize that: her bonnet glows, her cheek glows (perhaps from rouge?), and so does her kirtle (a sort of tunic dress). But she is only decked out for her funeral. There will be guests, food, a church service, a burial (out behind Dickinson’s window) – the whole kit and kaboodle.
            But wait, the poet tells us. Think of the little daisy that dies at summer’s end. There’s no ceremony for it, no dress-up make believe, no service with its guest book. Still, the little brook is “tearful” and the sun comes up looking for it. People walking up the hill to look for it pause for a moment as if acknowledging its absence. This is a better way to go.
            Here is what Wikipedia says about Dickinson’s own death:
Dickinson was buried, laid in a white coffin with vanilla-scented heliotrope, a Lady's Slipper orchid, and a "knot of blue field violets" placed about it.[94][115] The funeral service, held in the Homestead's library, was simple and short; Higginson, who had only met her twice, read "No Coward Soul Is Mine", a poem by Emily Brontë that had been a favorite of Dickinson's.[113] At Dickinson's request, her "coffin [was] not driven but carried through fields of buttercups" for burial in the family plot at West Cemetery on Triangle Street

Okay, not exactly like the daisy’s dainty disappearance, but lovely and flowery all the same. It’s odd that her Preceptor, Higginson, chose to read a poem of Bronte’s.


  1. Of course Higginson would read someone else's poem at Emily's funeral - still not ready to be published in his eyes!

    1. Gnashing of teeth. Also, he had no idea about the hundreds and hundreds of poems she had stashed away.