Until Death touches it
While it and I lap one Air
Dwell in one Blood
Under one Sacrament
Show me Division can split or pare –
Love is like Life – merely longer
Love is like Death, during the Grave
Love is the Fellow of the Resurrection
Scooping up the Dust and chanting "Live"!
F287 (1862) 491
We know the “it” of the first stanza is a great love, for the poet makes that clear in the second stanza. As long as this love is “alive,” there is nothing that can come between the narrator and her beloved. Love laps the same air, shares the same sacrament and even the same blood – it is the warp and woof of the narrator’s existence.
It is “like Life,” Dickinson writes – except not so subject to death. It will endure (and her poetry ensures that). It is, however, also “like Death” – a line that is not entirely clear to me. Not clear at all, really. I suspect, though, that Dickinson is getting at the notion that Love isn’t just life but also the vast stillness and eternality outside of life. The dead await resurrection within the grave. That timeless disembodied wait must be part of the still heart of Love.
|William Blake's Creation of Adam.