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09 January 2012

Some Rainbow – coming from the Fair!

Some Rainbow – coming from the Fair!
Some Vision of the World Cashmere –
I confidently see!
Or else a Peacock's purple Train
Feather by feather – on the plain
Fritters itself away!

The dreamy Butterflies bestir!
Lethargic pools resume the whir
Of last year's sundered tune!
From some old Fortress on the sun
Baronial Bees – march – one by one –
In murmuring platoon!

The Robins stand as thick today
As flakes of snow stood yesterday –
On fence – and Roof – and Twig!
The Orchis binds her feather on
For her old lover - Don the Sun!
Revisiting the Bog!

Without Commander! Countless! Still!
The Regiments of Wood and Hill
In bright detachment stand!
Behold! Whose Multitudes are these?
The children of whose turbaned seas –
Or what Circassian Land?
                                                            F162 (1860)   64

Ah Spring! How many ways can we describe your joys? Emily Dickinson gives it a good go in this poem. New England winters are notoriously cold and Dickinson’s activity was restricted to house and garden, so spring would be particularly important to her.
            Spring is going to a delightful fair, full of food and color and excitement, and then returning under the beautiful benefice of a rainbow. Or it is like a vision out of the glorious mountains of Cashmere (Kashmir today, a region jointly administered by Pakistan, India, and China). Then again, think of the purple and turquoise opalescence of  peacock feathers fanning out against a flat landscape and then feathers everywhere. That is all in the first stanza! The “p” alliterations (Peacock’s / purple / plain) and “f” alliterations (feather / feather / fritters) help bind the stanza together.
            The second stanza take us to a little pool in a flowery wood (the Dickinson property had just this environment, and Amherst is set amid New England woods). Here, after winter’s short cold days lengthen into warm spring, the “dreamy Butterflies bestir” and the pool begins to hum with its dragon and damselflies, the skritching of kaydid and whirring grasshoppers along its banks. I love the “Baronial Bees” on their stately march from their castle. They’ve finally arrived from the sun and march about in a “murmuring platoon” as if they were young lads again. I’m picturing bumblebees as their beautiful black and gold liveries do look very baronial and they do seem to hawk and murmer like old nobility.
            Robins, harbingers of spring, are all out, taking their positions all around the house. And in the boggy spot there is an orchid who is tying on her lovely feather for Sir Sun. That’s a very nice image as well!. So nice, Don Sun, for you to visit the bog again.
Turkish tulips
            And all of this happens without a visible chain of command. Multitudes and regiments of flowers, budding trees, and blooming vines present themselves. The “children of … turbaned seas” or “Circassian Land (mountainous region of the Caucasus in central Eurasia, near Georgia and Turkey and the Black Sea) might well be the Turkish tulip. Turkey was tulip-ville long before Holland).
            The poet’s excitement is visible not only in the exotic range of locales and images of new life (and even the sexy seduction of the sun), but by loads of exclamation points – several in every stanza. It’s a lovely spring poem.


  1. But why "The children of whose turbaned seas". This line lost me out altogether.

    1. I think she is saying the flowers are the children of a land (and seas) where men where turbans. That's partly why I speculate the poem's subject is a Turkish tulip.

    2. Or perhaps a sea of turbans. Turkey fits in well but
      I am not aware of Turkish tulips.

  2. what does she mean “Don the sun”’

    1. "Don" is a Spanish honorific -- like 'Sir' when used to address a fine gentleman or person with some authority.

  3. Another beautiful analysis. Whole heartily agreed and appreciated!

    1. D’accord on Stanzas 1-3, but the last stanza smacks us upside the head with emphatic denial of any “Commander” directing spring’s “Countless ….. Regiments”. Concluding, ED leaves three unanswered questions: “Whose Multitudes are these? / The children of whose turbaned seas[?] – / Or what Circassian Land?”. She’s not denying the existence of transcendent force(s) in the universe (Hughes 2014), but she has no idea what, or who, they might be.

      Hughes, Glenn. 2014. Love, Terror, and Transcendence in Emily Dickinson's Poetry. Renascence. 66(4): 283-304.

  4. ED wrote two variants of 'Some Rainbow – coming from the Fair!' (F162). The first she signed "Emily", as usual, but then added an unusual and revealing note below her signature: 'Dear Sue - I havnt "paid you an attention" For some time. Girl.' She addressed it simply, as usual, by writing "Sue" on the back of the folded paper, which she delivered to Sue's house personally or by household help.

    The note's tone implies to my ear a relaxed and affectionate friendship, probably mutual but certainly from Emily's end.