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30 April 2012

If He dissolve – then – there is nothing – more –

If He dissolve – then – there is nothingmore
Eclipse – at Midnight
It was darkbefore

Sunset – at Easter
Blindness – on the Dawn
Faint Star of Bethlehem –
Gone down!

Would but some Godinform Him –
Or it be too late!
Say – that the pulse just lisps
The Chariots wait

Say – that a little life – for His –
Is leakingred
His little Spaniel – tell Him!
Will He heed?
                                                            F251 (1861)  236

This cringing poem is reminiscent of F237:

What shall I do – it whimpers so – 

This little Hound within the Heart


The poet uses an excessive amount of italics to emphasize the emotions – as if the exaggerated list of woes is not enough. Things have deteriorated, however, since F237. If the beloved “He” “dissolves” or fades away out of her life, then there will be nothing more left. Life would be as dark as an “Eclipse – at Midnight.” It might have been dark before, but her life will be even blacker. She continues: Instead of the glorious sun rise of Easter, a glorious emblem of the Resurrection when Jesus rose from the dead, it will be sunset. The Dawn, instead, will be black as blindness. The star that blazed in the heavens leading the way to the holy manger where baby Jesus lay would have “gone down” – a more dire image than had it simply faded away. The loss of the beloved would be as if the Christian Saviour, Jesus, had never been born, had never been resurrected – and so all hope of life eternal and forgiveness of sins, etc., would be lost.
This carriage hearse is waiting
for the coffin
            The poem continues in the third stanza with the hope that unless “some God” tell the beloved about all this nasty stuff that will happen to the speaker, it might be “too late!” Her pulse is faint, just lisping along. The chariot of death is waiting at her door. Hey, no pressure. Apparently there isn’t time enough for a letter or human messenger to reach him: it has to be the oddly phrased “some God,” as if Mercury or Venus might help her out.
            The last stanza returns to the whimpering dog image. But this time the dog isn’t just whimpering, it is “leaking – red” with its blood. His “little Spaniel” is dying. He must be told! But, the question is asked, “Will he heed?” Reader, what would you do? Probably, you would run. This poem, however, was probably never sent to the missing beloved. It was tucked away in the same fascicle or booklet as the Little Hound poem and others that scholars have concluded refer to Samuel Bowles.
            Dickinson’s love poetry gets better – and several earlier poems are already better. This one is a private outpouring of heartbreak. I’ve been there and written even worse poetry. I’d hate to think that someone would excavate it after I die!

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