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18 February 2012

Could I – then – shut the door –


Could I – then – shut the door –
Lest my beseeching face – at last –
Rejected – be – of Her?
                                                - F188 (1861)  220

This is a snippet of a letter that has been judged by scholars more profound and learned than me to be poetry. I quote entirely from David Preest here as to the context and interpretation:

This poem is the whole of another note (L239) sent by Emily to Sue, and like the questions in poem 213 expects the answer ‘No.’ No, Emily could not shut the door on Sue, if only for fear that her own beseeching face be finally rejected by Sue. But for what reason does Emily need to say that she could not shut the door on Sue? It is hardly likely that Sue would have accused Emily of shutting the door on her, but more possible that Sue, busy with the new baby, has not replied to Emily’s notes. Some confirmation of this can be found in a letter which Sue sent to Emily in late October 1861. She says, ‘I have intended to write you Emily today but the quiet has not been mine _ I should send you this, lest I should seem to have turned away from a kiss –  If you have suffered this past Summer I am sorry. I Emily bear a sorrow that I never uncover. If a nightingale sings with her breast against a thorn, why not we? When I can, I shall write (Sewall, p. 203).’



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