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26 February 2012

I'll send the feather from my Hat!

I'll send the feather from my Hat!
Who knows – but at the sight of that
My Sovereign will relent?
As trinket – worn by faded Child –
Confronting eyes long – comforted –
Blisters the Adamant!
                                                            - F196  (1861)   687

Ostrich feathers were the rage
This is a classic and light-hearted love poem. However, considering Dickinson sent it to Samuel Bowles, presumably along with a feather, it was intended as a mild flirtation since Bowles was married. Surely, the poet asks, my precious feather will have the same effect on “My Sovereign” object of affection as receiving a trinket once worn by a now dead (“faded”) child would have on its parents. It should, she hopes, blister even his stony (“Adamant”) heart. I like the word “Blisters” here. The image of a feather blistering a stony surface is a droll one.  
            There’s a bit of sound play between “Confronting” and “comforted.” The trinket and feather will confront a person who has finally become comfortable about the absence of the child or would-be lover. This state of acceptance is about to be blistered!
            The poem is written in two 3-line parts: each has two lines of iambic tetrameter followed by one of iambic trimeter. The rhyming last words of the two sections, “relent” and “Adament,”  tie the poem together. 

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