Till some retrieveless night

Till some retrieveless night

If death is experienced as frost, or winter, to an individual or to a community, then its representative is the “Stranger hovering round” in the poem I suggest today by Emily Dickinson.  Like the murderer, death itself, “was never seen,” by a “too unsubstantial Team” of official searchers who find egg on their face when one shot ends it all.  “..The only shot/That never could be traced.”


Too much reliance on legalities leads nowhere. Just as flowers reveal spring and winter before it arrives, “The Flowers notice first”, poetry relies on inference to decipher what is knowable without proof.

Without claiming to eliminate all threat, the poem suggests it takes more than laws and the analysis of police work for a community to defend itself against its enemies.

The Frost was never seen —

If met, too rapid passed,

Or in too unsubstantial Team —

The Flowers notice first


A Stranger hovering round

A symptom of alarm

In Villages remotely set

But search effaces him


Till some retrieveless night

Our Vigilance at waste

The Garden gets the only shot

That never could be traced.


Unproved is much we know —

Unknown the worst we fear —

Of Strangers is the Earth the Inn

Of Secrets is the Air —


To Analyze perhaps

A Philip would prefer

But Labor vaster than myself

I find it to infer.

The reason the street shyster, fraudulent executive, terrorist, murderer, or any other disturber of the peace will return repeatedly, proving “Our Vigilance at waste” is that the “Garden” of humanity’s heart is where dissolution occurs.

To Analyze perhaps...But...to infer

To Analyze perhaps...But...to infer



The law cannot always prove what we know, “Unproved is much we know —”. Nor can the “Unknown”, our worst fear, be revealed by analysis.  Everyone is a stranger to most.  The very air we breathe is no less ubiquitous than secrets. 

Digest a Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way