Search This Blog

16 April 2013

You'll find — it when you try to die

You'll find — it when you try to die —
The easier to let go —
For recollecting such as went —
You could not spare — you know.

And though their places somewhat filled —
As did their Marble names
With Moss — they never grew so full —
You chose the newer names —

And when this World — sets further back —
As Dying — say it does —
The former love — distincter grows —
And supersedes the fresh —

And Thought of them — so fair invites —
It looks too tawdry Grace
To stay behind — with just the Toys
We bought — to ease their place —

                                                                F441 (1862)  J610

In this rather conventional poem, Dickinson suggests that thinking about joining our dear departed loved ones will make it “easier to let go.” She drops a few words that would give the poem grammatical correctness (and accessibility), but this can add some interesting ambiguity and double takes.

I love it when the names get mossy
         In the first stanza, for example, we read “You’ll find –  it when you try to die.” I immediately begin to wonder what it is and under what circumstances I would “try to die.” Greater literal clarity might be accomplished with “You’ll find, when you are ready to die, that it is easier to let go …” But the initial impression is more interesting and more powerful. The “try” is useful, too, for the tension it introduces. The subject both doesn’t want to die (hence the tip to  make it easier) and does want to (hence the trying to die).  
         There’s a nostalgic feel to the poem – if not an overly sentimental one. The friends who died are preferred over newer ones: we don’t choose “the newer names” over the old. New friends are also superseded by the “former” loves. In fact, just thinking about those dead loved ones makes it seem tacky to hang around in the land of the living.  We are but children in this life, lacking understanding and clinging to things that in the end are no more than playthings to keep away the tears and fears.

   


No comments:

Post a Comment