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16 December 2012

Me—Come! My dazzled face

Me—Come! My dazzled face
In such a shining place!
Me—Hear! My foreign ear
The sounds of Welcome—there!

The saints forget
Our bashful feet—
My holiday shall be
That They—remember me—

My Paradise—the fame
That They—pronounce my name—

                                                                        F389 (1862)  431

The poet here poses (perhaps sincerely) as too shy to answer the call of heaven. "Aw shucks. It's too grand up there for the likes of me." The saints' "Welcome"  will fall on her "foreign ear." She doesn't belong in such a "shining place." She thinks that after a stint in heaven, the saints forget that newcomers will have "bashful feet." 

There's an Emily Dickinson International Society--
with members from all over the world.
          But the modesty is soon revealed as a form of ambition. The poet's idea of immortality and paradise is to be remembered for her poetry. She wants to be famous. That will be her holiday (holy day).  Ambitious as this sounds, Dickinson really was a bit shy about her poetry. She submitted only a few for consideration by known literary figures or for publication. The rest were written in either in secrecy or else included as a letter or part of a letter to friends and family.
          Dickinson's idea of Paradise has been realized. Over 125 years after her death (1886), her name is very much pronounced—and all over the world.


  1. She reminds me of the force and magnetic pull dead gurus in India still have on their followers, who flock to their ashrams, her poems, and bask in the light their immortal energies still radiate.

    1. It's true. Such a mystery about that light; we, like moths.

  2. Huh. One does wonder if the "They" in this poem is supposed to be angels in heaven, or us in the future, or what? It's wonderfully mysterious. I do love your interpretation, that we comprise Emily's paradise.

  3. ‘Me, change! Me, alter!’ F281.
    ‘Doubt Me! My Dim Companion!’ F332.
    ‘Me—Come! My dazzled face’ F389.

    Whether you’re God or a mere mortal, when ED says “Me—[verb]!” or “[Verb] Me!”, she really means “Don’t Mess With Emily!”.

  4. F389, ‘Me—Come!’, brings to mind an answer I’ve used more than once when asked by a good Christian what I thought of heaven: “If they don’t have blackberry cobbler in heaven, I don’t wanna go.”

    Of course, the bright ones respond, “How do you know they don’t have blackberry cobbler in heaven?”

    “Can you guarantee that in writing?” usually ends the conversation.

    Given Lines 7-10, ED’s answer would be similar, except her blackberry cobbler would be, bless her heart, “fame”.

    She sure scores my signature on her fan list. Some of my long-held breaths, exhaled with her final lines, carry gratitude: “That’s as close to God as I ever care to get.”