Cap of Lead

Cap of Lead

Highly menacing words help to create, in the following poem, a meditation on the uncontrollable. (Surly. Withdrawn. Chill. -bottom of a – Well. Hell.) The awful hurricane in Texas last night and its capricious destruction reminds me of this poem. When deadly force hits, as in volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, or sudden death from any source, I feel a compulsion to describe it.  I’m sure it is a kind of rebellion toward forces beyond my control.  But, rather than giving in to this anger, the poem, by Emily Dickinson, councils reverence.

A — Cap of Lead across the sky

Was tight and surly drawn

We could not find the mighty Face

The Figure was Withdrawn —


A Chill came up as from a shaft

Our noon became a well

A Thunder storm combines the charms

Of Winter and of Hell

Displaced and Replaced

Displaced and Replaced

Anyone who has endured a whirling terror like last night’s Hurrican Ike knows it can feel as if the world were confined under a “— Cap of Lead”.  

One result of feeling as though the heavens were sealed off beyond this lead coffin sky is that prayer finds itself suspended until the worst is over. Until God can be felt again, “We could not find the mighty Face/The Figure was Withdrawn —”

While the worst is happening outside, personal storm may develop when, “A Chill came up as from a shaft”.  The “noon” of everyday life, thereafter, has become a “well” of experience after a shaft of inner fear, or courage, we had not known before.

Finally, there is a grace in the completeness of nature’s force. “A Thunder storm combines the charms/Of Winter and of Hell”.

Digest a Poem a Day — Accept What Comes Your Way