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04 July 2011

So has a Daisy vanished

So has a Daisy vanished
From the fields today—
So tiptoed many a slipper
To Paradise away—

Oozed so in crimson bubbles
Day's departing tide—
Are ye then with God?
                                                            - F 19 (1858)

A little daisy is gone without a fuss. And so, Dickinson muses, do many souls depart this world tiptoeing away in slippers to Paradise. Surely this is the image of the meek or the poor in spirit who are to inherit the earth and the kingdom of heaven respectively, according to Jesus. 
   After likening such a quiet parting to the disappearance of a daisy, Dickinson then likens it to a sunset. But to me the imagery becomes a bit ghastly. The sunset oozes in crimson bubbles like a gurgling wound. The life flows out like a tide. The three gerunds in line seven chart the course of life for daisy or gentle soul: the live, active time; the tripping and tiptoeing into death; and flowing into Paradise. "Flowing" indicates a transformation--it is no longer a flesh-and-blood person or even a flowering plant. A transformation has occurred from the physical to the spiritual. 
     "Flowing" sounds a lot more spiritual than 'oozing'--the word used just two lines earlier. But Dickinson chose that word for a reason. Life may not always flow right away; at first it may have to be squeezed out of its frame.
     And is the soul with God? The question is unanswered, although seemingly implied by the confidence earlier that the slippers have tiptoed off to Paradise. 
   The poem reminds me slightly of Whitman's references to effusion. Here the body effuses itself at death, oozing and flowing to be with God. 


  1. Interesting analyses. You get a lot out of this poem. Thanks!

  2. Did ED have exposure to Eastern thought or was she mainly influenced by her study of the Bible?

    1. Many scholars write about influences from Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcendentalism was influenced by Eastern religions. There is quite a bit written about Dickinson and Transcendentalism. I have two books by RC Allen, one of which is Shatter Me with Dawn: the Transcendental Experience of Emily Dickinson; the other is Emily Dickinson: Accidental Buddhist.