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26 October 2011

Where bells no more affright the morn—

Where bells no more affright the morn—
Where scrabble never comes—
Where very nimble Gentlemen
Are forced to keep their rooms—

Where tired Children placid sleep
Thro' Centuries of noon
This place is Bliss—this town is Heaven—
Please, Pater, pretty soon!

"Oh could we climb where Moses stood,
And view the Landscape o'er"
Not Father's bells—nor Factories,
Could scare us any more!
                                                         - F 114 (1859)  112

This would certainly "affright":
14 bells in cathedral
Dickinson must have had a bad day before writing this. No doubt her father was ringing his accursed bell way before dawn (see F 35), church bells were clanging all day for one event or another, “Gentlemen” were dashing all over, children were screaming and playing right outside the garden, and factories were grinding gears and belching smoke. I say this because why else would one say that being in a grave is “Bliss” and the graveyard “Heaven”? For the place where “very nimble Gentlemen / Are forced to keep their rooms” is surely nothing more than graves.
            Once in your cozy little grave you won’t have to listen to church bells or children. And children can finally have their nap … and last, but probably not least, Dickinson’s father would let her sleep in.
The poem’s tone is playful. I can imagine her tugging at the draperies of great Jehovah saying, “Please, can I go now? Pretty please?? Get me out of here! Beam me up, Scotty!"

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh. I cannot even do this for 1 poem!!!