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24 June 2011

Garland for Queens, may be—

Garland for Queens, may be—
Laurels—for rare degree
Of soul or sword.
Ah—but remembering me—
Ah—but remembering thee—
Nature in chivalry—
Nature in charity—
Nature in equity—
This Rose ordained!

                                                            - F 10 (1858)

     This sounds like another poem where she has enclosed a flower to a friend--in this case a rose.
The sentiment is nice but hardly profound: Queens may be awarded garlands and heroes may get laurels, but nature--chivalrous, charitable, equitable nature--has remembered such ordinary folk as 'me' and 'thee' and provided the rose. The rose was considered by Dickinson and indeed Victorian culture in general to be among the most perfect of nature's offerings. 
     The poem's heart contains three feminine rhymes based on the couplet ending with 'me' and 'thee': chivalry, charity, and equity. The triad echoes the famous motto of the French revolution: Liberté, égalité, fraternité, which would have been known to Dickinson.
     The Rose is ordained, which gives it an almost sacerdotal quality, as if it were a holy emissary of nature. Later Dickinson poems also have a rose standing for perfection of some sort.


  1. Unlike garlands and laurels for recognition of royalty, nature ordained this rose for recognition of common folks like you and me, for chivalry, charity, and equity.

  2. My wager is that ED gave 'Garland for Queens' (F10) to Susan at the same time she gave her 'Nobody knows this little rose' (F11) and that the "me" and "thee" are ED and Susan. Both poems are about gifting a rose, probably with these poems. (See my comment on F11.)