Search This Blog

11 August 2011

When I count the seeds

When I count the seeds
That are sown beneath,
To bloom so, bye and bye—

When I con the people
Lain so low,
To be received as high—

When I believe the garden
Mortal shall not see—
Pick by faith its blossom
And avoid its Bee,
I can spare this summer, unreluctantly.
                                                                            - F 51 (1859)

As the poet contemplates her winter garden, thinking about all the flowers that will eventually bloom, she contemplates the similarities between seeds and souls. Like seeds, the dead are sown beneath the soil; like flowers breaking through the soil to bloom, they will emerge in Paradise, immortal.
The third stanza begins with the interesting qualifier “When.” I parse this stanza as follows: In those times when I can believe in Paradise, can by faith alone enjoy its blessings; and if I can avoid stirring up stinging doubt as I do so, then I can willingly forego this life in favor of the next. The implication is that she is not always able to avoid the Bee.
Dickinson so loved her garden and its denizens that she wasn’t always sure she wanted to trade it even for heaven—the very existence and nature of she does not seem completely sure of. 


  1. I am a bit fuzzy on, " When I con the people lain so low,to be received as high".How does the speaker con others?

    1. Ah, back in the day, 'con' meant to consider or think about.