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27 October 2011

Ambition cannot find him –

Ambition cannot find him –
Affection doesn't know
How many leagues of nowhere
Lie between them now.

Yesterday, undistinguished!
Eminent Today
For our mutual honor,
Immortality!
                                 - F 115 (1859)  68

This has the feel of something penned for someone who has lost her husband. No matter how diligently she tries to find him nor how lovingly she thinks on him, there are “leagues of nowhere” “between them now.” But then the poet remarks that he was a nobody yesterday, in fact he was probably nobody until he died and could share in the honor and eminence we will all share as immortal souls.
          I hope Dickinson is right and that immortality and “life” post-grave is as wonderful as she so often makes it out to be. On the other hand, me thinks the lady doth protest too much.
            The poem is divided between the first stanza outlining how distant and unreachable the dear departed is. The second makes a stab at glorifying his current lot. Each stanza is written in trimeter. “Immortality" cuts it a bit short, but as it ends on an accented syllable it reinforces the positive ending.

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