If all politics is local, perhaps all economics is private.  Until it isn’t.

A recent news story about what the Rich Fear Most, says a not-so-publicized result of finances today is suffered by those who have had to pay up on collateralized investments: margin calls.

This is an outsized issue for most people. But, the consequence for everyone, including the people who got money for their businesses or lifestyles with loans, is discussed in a poem by Emily Dickinson, “Deprived of other Banquet”.

Deprived of other Banquet,

I entertained Myself — 

At first — a scant nutrition — 

An insufficient Loaf — 


But grown by slender addings

To so esteemed a size

‘Tis sumptuous enough for me — 

And almost to suffice


A Robin’s famine — able — 

Red Pilgrim, He and I — 

A Berry from our table

A Reserve — for Charity —

I grew up in a middle class home. My psyche will never be free of an intact impression that I have everything that, and more than, I need. As an adult I’ve always struggled to balance innate financial optimism with the reality of hard work. 

Incomprehensible loss when my daughter died, along with the emotion-crippling affect of child sexual abuse, and destruction of relationships I felt were vital to my well-being, have all taught me the meaning of the word deprivation. So, with caution, I say I probably would not value this poem without having undergone real loss. 

This poem counsels me and anyone who is facing a reversal, or even just a threat to fortune, to return to a fundamental ingredient of new directions: “I entertained Myself — /At first — a scant nutrition — /An insufficient Loaf —”

As anyone knows who has seen a little investment “grown by slender addings/To so esteemed a size/”, the real test is knowing when “’Tis sumptuous enough”.


Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way